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Volvo’s Living Seawall Is A 3D-Printed, Ocean Conservation Project

Volvo has designed an eco-friendly seawall along the coast of Sydney harbour that purposes to improve water quality and biodiversity in the area.

Developed in collaboration with the Reef Design Lab and Sydney Institute of Marine Science, the biodiversity promoter installation Volvo Living Seawall consists of 50 hexagonal tiles with small corners and recesses that are designed to imitate the root structure of native mangrove trees – a well-known habitat for marine wildlife.

Because our oceans are in distress, one garbage truck of plastic enters the world’s oceans every minute, and more than half of Sydney’s shoreline is artificial. Rich, vibrant habitats have been replaced with seawalls and degraded by plastic pollution. The Volvo Ocean Race has been hosting beach clean-ups all over the world to help combat plastic pollution. But while they’re important, beach clean-ups alone aren’t enough to save the oceans.

There’s so much plastic in the ocean that scientists say it’s simply not feasible to remove it all. Tearing down seawalls isn’t viable either. Solving environmental issues requires modern, divergent thinking. That’s why Volvo partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create the Living Seawall, they stated.

Designed to mimic the root structure of native mangrove trees, the Living Seawall adds complexity to the existing seawall structure and provides a habitat for marine life. This aids biodiversity and attracts filter-feding organisms that actually absorb and filter out pollutants – such as particulate matter and heavy metals – keeping the water ‘clean’. The more organisms, the cleaner the water.

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There are four steps to the sustainability of the project, referring,

Creation
The Living Seawall is made up of 50 tiles designed to mimic the root structure of mangrove trees.

Installation
The tiles are installed along an existing seawall structure in Sydney Harbour.

Habitation
Over time, the filter-feeding organisms colonise the wall. These organisms filter particles and pollutants out of the water.

Continuation
Researchers will monitor the Living Seawall for the next 20 years as it improves biodiversity and water quality.

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Volvo is commited to building a sustainable future with projects like the Living Seawall and beach clean-ups. By the end of 2019, Volvo Cars will remove single-use plastics from all its offices, canteens and events across the globe. This will replace over 20 million single-use plastics with sustainable alternatives.

Volvo added,

Designed to mimic the root structure of native mangrove trees, the Living Seawall adds complexity to the existing seawall structure and provides a habitat for marine life.

This aids biodiversity and attracts filter-feeding organisms that actually absorb and filter out pollutants – such as particulate matter and heavy metals – keeping the water clean. The more organisms we have, the cleaner the water.

Rich and vibrant habitats have been replaced with seawalls and degraded by plastic pollution. By adding the tiles to an existing seawall, the project aims to transform a man-made structure into a potential marine habitat. It also presents a unique opportunity to research which specific seawall designs and geometries best support the ecosystems in our oceans.

We’ve also commited to electrification, with a goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2025, and to fostering productive partnerships. Volvo Cars is an active supporter of the UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign and a founding member of the UN Global Compact.

This radical and divergent style of thinking is just a part of the Living Seawall, but the point is to live the idea and hold on to it!

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