The Digital Reef

Reinventing Coastal Protection

You cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
- Albert Einstein -

We believe that everything can be better, not least the techniques and approaches used to provide coastal protection that have not fundamentally evolved or changed in hundreds of years, until now.

Through a relentless cycle of systematic improvements we are reinventing coastal protection from the ground up, driving improvements in every stage from surveying and modelling through to design and installation. Each time we seek to maximise the benefit from the energy and materials we use while reducing cost and environmental impact.

The CCell Solution

Coastal Impact - The reef attenuates wave energy, protecting the coastline behind it.

Reef Structure - The reef base structure consists of lightweight modular units that are stacked together.

Mineral Accretion - Calcium carbonate rock is grown around the base structure using electrolysis.

Renewable Energy - Energy from a range of sources can be aggregated to power the accretion.

Smart Power Management - We regulate and distribute the available energy across the reefs to optimise rock growth.

Corals - Divers attach corals grown in local hatcheries. Research shows these grow 2-3x faster than normal.

The CCell solution

Reefs are natural barriers to erosion, causing waves to break out at sea.

CCell Reefs mimic this behaviour, selectively reducing the power of large waves (which are typically bad for the shoreline), while letting smaller waves pass through unaffected (which are good and help build sand back onto the beach).

Our reefs are porous structures, which can further reduce energy in waves by inducing turbulence as they pass through.

Modelling wave induced currents that affect beach sand deposits.
Wave modelling to assess the impact the CCell Reef has on the strength of large waves.

The backbone of the reefs is formed from a lightweight structure.

Currently we use steel to define the initial shape of the reef, around which calcareous rock is grown. This rock is a perfect substrate for plants and coral to attach, which become an integral part of the structure. This approach allows us to minimise the amount of material we put into the ocean.

We use a modular design to ease transportation and installation, with units typically 2.5m long and up to 2m high, that can be stacked to accommodate to site bathymetry.

Steel reef

We use seawater electrolysis to form the rock on our reefs.

A safe low-voltage current is passed between a small metal anode and the steel structure. At the anode, oxygen is produced, which is beneficial for marine life. At the cathode (the main structure) the pH rises, inducing the precipitation of dissolved salts in seawater onto the structure.

The rock, formed of mainly Aragonite (calcium carbonate) and Brucite (magnesium hydroxide), grows at approximately 2.5cm (1") per year and will automatically heal damaged areas.

Rock acretion during laboratory trials

Wave power has an energy density more than 800 times that of wind.

CCell's patented wave paddle is a simple and sturdy design, inspired by nature, that extracts energy from ocean waves. The curve of our paddle is naturally strong and able to withstand extreme conditions, while the composite construction make the paddle ultra-light and durable. This device has the highest known power to weight ratio of any wave energy device.

Through minor adjustments during manufacture the unit can be optimised for the prevailing site conditions and is normally positioned adjacent to the growing reef.

CCell Wave Paddle

Optimised power usage through precision control and engineering.

The voltage applied to the reef structure is precisely controlled and centrally managed to ensure that every coulomb counts.

The Smart Power Management (SPM) continually optimises the power output, controlling the distribution of available renewable power across the reef. Through continual sensing of environmental conditions it helps the reef adapt to climate change.

Thermal impage of PCB
Heat disipation during extreme testing of electronics.

Our reefs accelerate coral growth and increase their resilience to climate change.

Building on over 25 years of research, this process has been shown to accelerate coral growth: fragments of broken or farmed corals attached to the structure can grow faster than on natural reefs. This method of reef-creation has been applied to solve a wide variety of marine and coastal problems, including coral reef and fishery habitat restoration, shoreline protection, and erosion control measures.

Our partners at the Living Reefs Foundation have been researching the effects of our electrolysis technology on the growth of young corals, intending to optimise this process.

A fish and coral on an electrified reef

Talk to Us

James Henderson

Head of Product Development

Sam Ward

Head of Research