After World War 1, Fritz Harber, a brilliant German scientist and Nobel Prize winner, explored a novel way to help his country pay off its overwhelming war debt by extracting gold from seawater. This proved to be an unworkable scheme, however, experimentation with seawater electrolysis quietly continued.
In the 1970s, Wolf Hilbertz, an architect who was fascinated with the process, experimented under the auspices of the University of Texas. He patented the concept of Biorock (also known as seacrete or seament). Over the past fifty years applications for Biorock have been explored, such as reef restoration.
Several years ago, my son Adam, an architect, introduced me to the possibilities of Biorock in creating structures for other purposes. He explained the potential use of accreting aragonite on the cathode during electrolysis. Aragonite is more durable than cement. Many marine molluscs – clams, oysters, scallops, etc. – accrete aragonite to create their shells.
To the right is Adam’s design for a pavilion grown from Biorock; he continues to research this concept.
In my imagination, this idea grew into an elegant solution, a way to construct the future sea steading communities in Pelagia.
Accretion can take place using any material that conducts electricity. So, for example, you could accrete aragonite onto steel mesh, which has been moulded into any shape, and the result would be like building with ferro-cement. In the world of Pelagia, instead of using metal cathodes, accretion would take place on top of graphene, one of the strongest materials known.
In Pelagia, this accretion process is used to build sea steading ships like Ossë as well as for modular components of Marcelli Ring and the platforms used for mariculture activities on Marcelli Rise.
I think this just scratches the surface of potential applications for this technology, especially in possible Pelagic territories; future research will tell us more.