Jaime Ascensio, a business development engineer, was concerned about the threat of coastal erosion in the Caribbean Sea that was causing damage to beaches and tourism. Having found a solution in artificial reefs to form natural breakwaters, Ascensio realized many existing solutions were neither sustainable nor stable enough to combat wave forces. This prompted him to pursue a master’s degree in coastal engineering at the renowned Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. After five years of research and development, Ascensio created Reefy, a startup aimed at establishing living breakwaters of artificial reefs. His first project in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is made up of 17 blocks of low-carbon concrete weighing six tons each. The artificial reef will serve a dual purpose in combating ocean turbulence caused by shipping traffic and supporting marine biodiversity. Similar projects are planned for Mexico and the US Southeast coast.
Coral reefs support rich marine life and serve as a natural buffer, protecting coastal areas from waves and storms. Coral reefs dissipate up to 97% of the incoming wave energy, according to a study of coral reefs worldwide. Coral reefs host more species per square metre than any other marine environment, with coral covering only 0.01% of the ocean floor. The rise of coral reef erosion due to climate change has inspired numerous artificial reef solutions, including sunken ships, subway cars, and robotic arm-seeded dome-shaped coral skeletons. Reefy blocks can be connected to form different configurations to address unique site needs.