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EWN Researchers Evaluate Reef-Mimicking Structures for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

EWN Researchers Evaluate Reef-Mimicking Structures for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

With over 1,700 Department of Defense (DoD) installations worldwide, safeguarding critical infrastructure and personnel sustainably has become an imperative concern. The increased frequency and intensity of storms, often accompanied by destructive surges and flooding, demand innovative solutions beyond conventional “gray” infrastructure approaches like cement bulkheads and seawalls which pose sustainability challenges. Traditional structures often require considerable maintenance and disrupt water and sediment flows which may then impact the integrity of shorelines.

In response to this pressing need, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) introduced the Reefense Program in 2020. This initiative, a fusion of “Reef” and “Defense,” seeks to pioneer hybrid biological and engineered reef-mimicking structures. The objective is to mitigate wave and storm damage while minimizing the ecological impact associated with traditional coastal protection measures.

In alignment with this endeavor, the US Army Corps of Engineers Engineering With Nature (EWN) Program has been actively exploring nature-based solutions. Leveraging scientific insights and engineering innovation, the EWN Program aims to enhance operational efficiencies by aligning natural and engineering processes for sustainable delivery of broader project benefits.

The collaboration between DARPA’s Reefense Program and the ongoing efforts of the EWN Program underscores a shared commitment to harnessing nature-inspired solutions for resilient coastal defense. This video showcases EWN researchers at the Engineer Research and Development Center evaluating these reef-mimicking structures, informing their potential to fortify coast lines.


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