After witnessing the rapid decline of coral reefs in Hong Kong in just two months in 2014, Yu and her team at the University of Hong Kong developed terracotta tiles using 3D printers to provide a stable substrate for coral fragments to attach and grow. According to Forbes, the folds and fissures in the tiles have been proven to increase coral fragment survival rates to up to 98%.
Driven by the urgent need to scale up their operation, Yu and her colleague David Baker co-founded Archireef in 2020 as a climate solutions provider. The startup aims to rebuild marine ecosystems degraded by climate change to achieve carbon neutrality. While many climate-tech programs focus on lowering carbon emissions, Yu recently told Forbes the significance of active restoration, pointing out that natural recovery is slow and cannot keep up with climate change.
According to United Nations, coral reefs cover only 0.2% of the seafloor but they provide critical environmental advantages, sustaining a quarter of the ocean’s fish and contributing an estimated $2.7 trillion in goods and services, including tourism money, each year. However, coral reefs are highly vulnerable to warming waters and have experienced significant losses due to bleaching caused by high sea temperatures.
With their prototypes successfully deployed in Hong Kong, Archireef is now looking to expand internationally, starting with Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, where Archireef has established a facility in.
Archireef’s innovative approach to coral reef restoration using 3D printing and clay has the potential to make a significant contribution to addressing the urgent challenges posed by climate change and protecting our oceans’ delicate ecosystems.
Featured Image Source: Forbes