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STEM Solutions: Cork-Shaped Concrete Protects England’s Beaches

A remote seaside town in England has seen rising sea levels and more intense storms that puts its shoreline at risk. The increasing wave and water energy rips sediment away in massive erosion events. Unfortunately, these problems plague coastal communities all over the world. Popular methods designed to hold and trap sand, such as groins and jetties, prevent the natural flow of sediment along the natural path of the current. This process can starve beaches of sand, exposing the nearby land even further to the impacts of erosion. Structures such as seawalls direct all the wave energy downward, washing away sand even faster than natural erosion. These traditional methods attempt to stop wave action in its tracks. However, the energy from that water movement needs somewhere to go.

Enter, Hillblock! This technology developed in the Netherlands uses a system of concrete blocks and steel pilings that are designed to sway as the force of a wave breaks onto it. The energy eventually dissipates across the Hillblock while the water itself slips through the cracks and back out to sea.

Stolford, England decided to bring Hillblock to its shores. Conventional methods would have been expensive to produce and transport while potentially causing damage to the natural areas near Stolford. This system is lighter and shorter than other technologies, preserving the beautiful view for residents and tourists. Precious natural habitat can coexist peacefully alongside it and even spread because of the protective concrete layer.

Learn more about Stolford and Hillblock by reading this article!

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