Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Eco-friendly defence against erosion in arctic regions

09.10.2009
A robust geosynthetic bag developed by the French and Norwegian partners of EUREKA project E! 3702 GISSAC can be filled with locally available, low-grade soil and used to build protective infrastructures capable of withstanding sea and ice erosion in the harsh Arctic climate.

Coastal roads and harbours are traditionally protected from sea erosion by giant blocks of rock or geosynthetic bags filled with material, all locally sourced where possible. In the Arctic and other cold northern regions, where good quality material is often scarce, the prohibitive economic and environmental cost of importing suitable matter has led to a demand for solutions that make use of whatever low quality soil or other material is available.

Geosynthetic bags, which are typically woven textile, polymer-based envelopes, have been successfully used for more than 40 years in temperate climates, but have not been tested in sub-zero conditions.

Answering local needs

EUREKA project E! 3702 GISSAC was initiated by TenCate Geosynthetics France, a world-leader in the design and production of geosynthetic materials for civil engineering projects. The company wanted to find out if geosynthetic bags worked in very cold conditions, and to come up with a product that was both environmentally friendly and sustainable.

"Our northern European sales offices asked us to develop suitable materials for cold regions where the temperature is rarely above zero," explains Dr Olivier Artières, TenCate's Innovation Project Manager and Senior Expert. "They face specific problems such as the thawing and freezing cycles of water that make the construction of infrastructures like roads and jetties difficult.

"Following a discussion with colleagues at Norway's SINTEF Research Institute we decided to talk to hold a brainstorming session with local users to gain a better understanding of their needs and the kind of solution they were looking for. They told us that constructing embankments under water to create dykes and breakwaters was a major problem, and protecting against coastal erosion. This was particularly so in areas such as Svalbard, where traditional solutions are too expensive or don't comply with strict environmental regulations, and which also lack suitable geological material for building protective infrastructures."

A robust and versatile solution

The GISSAC project team, with the support of EUREKA and the Norwegian-French Foundation, set about developing envelopes made with textiles comprising different structures (woven, non-woven and knitted) and different types of polymers. Laboratory tests and analysis of on-site results were conducted by French partner CETE Est LRPC Nancy and Norwegian subcontractor UNIS, with PhD and MsC students taking part in the fieldwork.

The project also entailed establishing the optimum shape and size of the geosynthetic bags, or Geobags, and the best method of installation. "The cold makes it extremely difficult to work in the Arctic," explains Dr Artières, "so it was a matter of finding the best compromise between a solution that works well and is also easy to install, as well as being inexpensive and environmentally friendly."

Geobags made from different types of textile were installed along a 100 metre stretch of coastline near a mining camp on Svalbard operated by project partner Store Norske Spitsbergen Grubekompani (SNSG). Over three winters, their response was monitored to the cold, ice movement, currents, abrasion and other stresses characteristic of the area. The results were so good that SNSG used the Geobags to repair a damaged quay wall in the local harbour instead of locally available rocks.

A growing market

The inexpensive, sustainable solution will be launched on the market in early 2010. With climate change models predicting that the north-western coasts of Canada and Alaska will be ice-free by 2020, and an estimated 25% of the world's undiscovered oil and gas resources located in the Arctic, the market potential for Geobags is considerable, as all new operations will require land-based infrastructures in need of protection. Several new Russian fields are also currently planned in the Barents and Pechora seas.

Given the ecologically fragile nature of arctic regions, Geobags have another significant advantage, says Dr Artières. "Geobag infrastructures are reversible – if they are no longer required, they can simply be emptied and the place left exactly as it was before construction."

Smart supervision

The condition ofGeobags when they are in situ is relatively easy to monitor, as being positioned on the ground surface of a site they can be checked regularly and replaced if necessary. However, the geosynthetic products used in more temperate climates for dams and flood-protection dikes and embankments are installed invisibly under soil, making it impossible to tell how well they are functioning.

TenCate has recently completed another EUREKA project, E! 3361 SAFEDIKE, which has developed a new, intelligent generation of geosynthetic textiles incorporating sensors and fibre optic technology that enable their condition to be monitored remotely.

"The GeoDetect® system not only monitors a product remotely but also acts as an early warning system, explains Dr Artières. "If the geosynthetic textile's performance starts deteriorating or there's some other malfunction, the system can identify the source of the trouble. The site managers can make a repair before any major damage occurs, especially something potentially catastrophic like a dike or dam failure."

Dr. O. Artieres | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.eureka.be/inaction/viewSuccessStory.do?docid=8690559

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>