An ECOncrete solution to reduce the ecological footprint in marine areas

ECOncrete is a company that develops, manufactures, and supports concrete products for enhancing the biological and ecological value of coastal and marine infrastructure. It was founded in 2012 by Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Dr. Ido Sella.

Both Shimrit and Ido are marine ecologists, experts in urban marine ecology and leaders in the growing field of ecological enhancement and green engineering technologies. The company offers a unique multidisciplinary blend of marine ecologists, geologists, biologists, engineers, designers, and concrete experts, working together to provide high quality cost effective concrete products. This includes bio-enhancing concrete additives, science based designed forms and form liners, applied to precast or cast-on-site ECOncrete elements. The company’s innovative solutions will reduce the ecological footprint of ports, costal protections schemes, marinas and urban waterfront projects, while adding to their structural integrity.

ECOncrete CEO and Chief Scientist Shimrit Perkol-Finkel. Photo: courtesy
ECOncrete CEO and Chief Scientist Shimrit Perkol-Finkel. Photo: courtesy

How it all started

Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel (CEO) grew up in Tel Aviv, about five minutes from the beach. It was her love of marine life that inspired her to study marine ecology. While doing her PhD at Tel-Aviv University, she realised the problem. In an interview with The Switchers, Shimrit tells that she was working in a lot of ports and marinas. Urban, coastal, and marine infrastructure have been designed and built with little or no environmental considerations leading to a high ecological footprint of structures like ports, marinas, waterfronts and coastal defense schemes. The current designs lead to poor biological performance associated with mitigation penalties, environmental problems as well as operational and financial burdens. “Over time, I saw the changes and devastation – from beautiful, diverse, natural reefs to dysfunctional, degraded, urban seascapes. I really wanted to change that.”

ECOncrete CTO Ido Sella. Photo: courtesy
ECOncrete CTO Ido Sella. Photo: courtesy

At the same time Biologist Dr. Ido Sella was a PhD assistant at Tel-Aviv University. They met and realized they had overlapping interests. The two began working together, providing global clients with guidance on designing and retrofitting coastal infrastructures that have the ability to minimize negative impacts on the environment while increasing ecological value. Combining their experience, Ido and Shimrit conducted a research and development process to find a solution to the problem of devastation caused by coastal development.

The revolutionary science-based approach differs from every other on the market.

 “We identified concrete as one of the materials most commonly used yet least effective,” Shimrit explains. Not only was the concrete composition harmful to the environment, the design – or, rather, the lack of design – was also problematic. That prompted Shimrit and Ido to focus on improving the materials, design, and texture of concrete-based coastal structures. ECOncrete transforms the way our future coastlines look and function, by replacing barren “gray” urban coastlines and waterfronts, with high-performance, resilient, blue-green infrastructure, which foster highly productive thriving ecosystems. The founders initially experimented with about 20 concrete admixtures in the Mediterranean. After choosing the best five, they did two years of controlled tests at the Red Sea; in Florida, New York and the Great Lakes in collaboration with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; in Savannah in partnership with the Georgia Port Authority; and in several New York locations.

“We verified that ECOncrete is significantly better than what is out there today, and we published the results of our studies in peer-reviewed journals,” Perkol-Finkel says in an interview with Abigail Klein Leichman from Israel21c.

The state of the art

ECOncrete technologies provide a win-win solution that reduces the ecological footprint, reduces mitigation requirements, facilitates permitting, and reduces maintenance costs through Bioprotection generated by healthy and diverse flora and fauna. ECOncrete provides robust, cost-effective construction solutions that are designed to decrease the ecological footprint of concrete structures like ports, breakwaters, piers, and building facades while contributing to their longevity.

Three levels of innovation

ECOncrete’s innovative concrete elements incorporate three levels of innovation:

  1. Concrete composition – innovative concrete matrices designed to provide desired biological parameters.
  2. Surface texture – advanced casting technologies and form-liner design to create surface textures that mimic natural features (rock/coral) and enhance biological recruitment by modifying small-scale hydrodynamics.
  3. Macro-design – specific designs that target and match biological needs (e.g., nursing grounds, enhancing endangered species, changing the ratio between invasive and native species).

 

Top image: An ECOncrete tide pool. Photo © courtesy ECOncrete.

 

By Martine Farstad on 08/10/2018