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Using waste biomass to produce 3D-printed artificial biodegradable structures for coastal ecosystem restoration

journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-28, 04:48 authored by Sachin Talekar, Colin BarrowColin Barrow, Hoang Chinh Nguyen, Ali Zolfagharian, Shahab Zare, Shahjadi Hisan Farjana, Peter I Macreadie, Mahmud Ashraf, Stacey M Trevathan-Tackett
The loss of ecosystem functions and services caused by rapidly declining coastal marine ecosystems, including corals and bivalve reefs and wetlands, around the world has sparked significant interest in interdisciplinary methods to restore these ecologically and socially important ecosystems. In recent years, 3D-printed artificial biodegradable structures that mimic natural life stages or habitat have emerged as a promising method for coastal marine restoration. The effectiveness of this method relies on the availability of low-cost biodegradable printing polymers and the development of 3D-printed biomimetic structures that efficiently support the growth of plant and sessile animal species without harming the surrounding ecosystem. In this context, we present the potential and pathway for utilizing low-cost biodegradable biopolymers from waste biomass as printing materials to fabricate 3D-printed biodegradable artificial structures for restoring coastal marine ecosystems. Various waste biomass sources can be used to produce inexpensive biopolymers, particularly those with the higher mechanical rigidity required for 3D-printed artificial structures intended to restore marine ecosystems. Advancements in 3D printing methods, as well as biopolymer modifications and blending to address challenges like biopolymer solubility, rheology, chemical composition, crystallinity, plasticity, and heat stability, have enabled the fabrication of robust structures. The ability of 3D-printed structures to support species colonization and protection was found to be greatly influenced by their biopolymer type, surface topography, structure design, and complexity. Considering limited studies on biodegradability and the effect of biodegradation products on marine ecosystems, we highlight the need for investigating the biodegradability of biopolymers in marine conditions as well as the ecotoxicity of the degraded products. Finally, we present the challenges, considerations, and future perspectives for designing tunable biomimetic 3D-printed artificial biodegradable structures from waste biomass biopolymers for large-scale coastal marine restoration.



Science of The Total Environment

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Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal


Elsevier BV