Corals consume sugar and in order to facilitate themselves nurture, the corals become hosts for algae, which produce in turn their food. Scientists have recently created 3D-printed corals with enhanced properties to hold more algae. This is not the first time that this experiment is taking place, since one year ago in Israel, scientists developed bioplastic coral heads using 3D technology.
This study is going to provide more information regarding the coral bleaching phenomenon, as well as an extra source for biofuel. Readers can find it published in the Nature Communications journal.
The synthetic coral is the result of the collaboration between Cambridge University and the University of California San Diego. The equipment for this biocompatible coral implied utilizing a fast bioprinting technique that could produce these objects at a micro-scale in a short time.
The 3D-Printed Corals Might Save The Real Ones
The printed corals contain a skeleton which imitates the coral tissue. The composition of the frame includes a biocompatible polymer and extra nanocrystals added manually. In reality, the tissue skeleton is made of gelatin-based polymer hydrogel, combined with living algae that produce cellulose nanocrystals.
The researchers are proud to present that the printed sample is capturing significantly more light than the real coral. The crystals added manually are responsible for absorbing the sun and guiding its path directly to the algae.
For example, the scientists added microalgae called Marinichlorella Kaistiae to the material. The result as that the environment created stimulated its growth by 100 more times than it would have generally resulted in natural conditions.
The scientists are now completing further tests to determine how exactly they can use the corals for developing biofuels. In addition to this, they are trying to create a technique with which to stop the coral bleaching. The scientists think that this can only be achieved when they manage to understand the relationship between the corals and the algae fully. During the bleaching situation, the coral expels the algae.