Mussel Co.

Martha Fantom, Product Design Engineering

Winner PDE3 annual prize 2021

Mussel Co. enables a new reef restoration technique and platform, using a simple and circular process to create innovative artificial reef modules. They promote polyp and algae growth, helping to restore dying reef zones.

As a species, we produce 7 million tons of seashell waste annually. At the same time, we continue to deplete our Earth’s natural resources by mining new limestone, the same material shells are made from. While this happens on land, ocean temperatures are rising and coral reefs are struggling to survive. If we don’t change anything, the reefs are destined to almost fully collapse by 2050, putting an end to our entire ecosystem.

Aiming to address both of these issues, I investigated mussel shell waste streams, seeking new ideas for re-use. As nature has it, mussel shells and coral skeletons are both composed of calcium carbonate, creating an ideal design opportunity.

By combining ground mussel shells with all-natural pine resin as a binding agent, I created a new form of artificial coral that seeks to aid in-reef intervention. With a low-cost casting process, it makes coral reef restoration accessible and easy. Incorporating a ‘coral classroom’ for people to visit, it could create a setting that empowers people to make a difference in our marine environment and provides them the opportunity to be involved at a grassroots level.

The coral modules can be anchored to existing reef and provide the skeleton for new coral larvae to settle and grow. By implementing these structures, it helps kickstarts reef re-growth, allowing it to expand faster. At the same time, it creates a circular journey for the tons of shell waste currently destined for landfill.

You can visit my blog to learn a bit more.

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