Engineering professor proposes bold concept for solving great barrier reef bleaching

July 11, 2017

TUCSON, Ariz. (July 12, 2017) -- A civil engineering professor who has developed innovative solutions for infrastructure renewal and repair for over 30 years is proposing a bold, sustainable solution for the worldwide coral bleaching crisis -- starting with Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

"There is an endless supply of cool water just a short distance away, at the bottom of the ocean, and yet the warm water at the shallow reefs is killing the coral," says Mo Ehsani, Centennial Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona.

Ehsani's innovative proposal is to manufacture a durable, lightweight, single-piece pipe that is long enough to continually feed cooler water from nearby greater depths to the heat stressed coral in the shallows. The system uses a floating Wave Energy Converter (WEC) to power the pumps needed to maintain constant flow of cool water.

"The WEC uses the wave energy either above or below the surface to generate the electricity required to operate the water pump," Ehsani says. "You can make the pipe as long as is needed to reach the coolest water to pump back to the stressed coral," he says.

The low-cost solution is possible thanks to the on-site manufactured InfinitPipe®, first introduced by Ehsani in 2012 after several years of development by Ehsani's company, QuakeWrap, Inc. "The use of conventional pipes would make this solution cost-prohibitive," Ehsani says. The system uses clean, renewable, infinite sources -- nearby deeper sea water as the coolant, and wave motion from the surface for the pump electricity. The result is an environmentally sustainable solution requiring minimal on-site disruption or daily maintenance.

A 2016 aerial survey of the northern Great Barrier Reef by the James Cook University Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies showed that 90 per cent of reefs in some areas were severely bleached. In 2012, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) published a paper that summarized the major trends of reef conditions from 1985 to 2012, and reported that the reef had lost half its coral cover during this time. Both sets of researchers cite warmer than usual currents causing thermal stress on coral.

Ehsani's bold, innovative proposal will debut at the National Science Foundation Workshop on Additive Manufacturing for Civil Infrastructure Design and Construction July 13. The workshop -- taking place at NSF's headquarters in Arlington, Va. -- reviews state-of-the-art of additive manufacturing for civil infrastructure design and construction.

Topics explored at the workshop include inspiring examples of additive manufacturing such as polymer reinforcement for structures or 3D printing in civil infrastructure design and construction, and exploring potential applications and innovations for infrastructure renewal.

Ehsani has pioneered the field of repair and strengthening of structures using fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) products since the late 1980s. He left the full time academic world in 2010 to devote his time to the management of QuakeWrap, Inc., a company he founded in 1994.

His innovative products have been used in the construction industry to repair high pressure pipelines, freeway underpasses, marine piles, historical structures and more. One of these products, called StifPipe®, received the 2016 ASCE Innovation Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers as the world's first green and sustainable pipe; and his game-changing technology for onsite-manufactured continuous pipe - called InfinitPipe® - plays a significant part in the proposed coral reef bleaching answer.

"Solution for reef bleaching? Make a continuous pipe on site to submerge and bring cooler water to heat stressed coral." - Civil Engineering Prof. Mo Ehsani
At a Glance: Bold solution to Great Barrier Reef bleaching proposed by engineering professor at NSF Workshop


"Onsite-Manufactured Continuous Pipe" presentation by Mo Ehsani, Centennial Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona and President/CEO of QuakeWrap, Inc., to the National Science Foundation Workshop on Additive Manufacturing for Civil Infrastructure Design and Construction.

Where and when

National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia, Thursday, July 13, beginning at approx. 3:50 p.m. Eastern.


More info on the National Science Foundation Workshop on Additive Manufacturing for Civil Infrastructure Design and Construction can be found here:

More info on InfinitPipe, the continuous pipe that can be manufactured onsite, is here

Contact at QuakeWrap®

Steve Delgado
520-791-7000 Orfollow Professor Mo Ehsani on Twitter @ProfEhsani

QuakeWrap, Inc.

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