Research & Development

At Exo Environmental we invest in our own expertise and work collaboratively with a variety of specialist bodies, research institutions and working groups, in order to provide innovative solutions to our clients’ needs. Our work is underpinned by the PIANC philosophy of ‘Working with Nature’. This focuses our project objectives, taking a holistic, ecosystem-based approach to create win-win solutions rather than simply minimising ecological harm. We aim to balance economic, societal, environmental and engineering factors to optimise design with positive gains from project conception to completion and beyond.

Below are just some examples of research and development projects that Exo Environmental is involved with. Most of our work is presented during seminars and conference and sometimes published in academic journals. Yet some work is confidential and developed behind the scenes.

Geotube, geotextile bag, geotunnel

Geo-Blocks

  • Geo-blocks are geo-engineered structures comprised of a base aggregate that is stabilised through one or a combination of physical, chemical or mechanical methods and can be used as an alternative to existing hard-engineering coastal defences (e.g. rock armour).

 

  • Working alongside long-standing partners Netics, Netherlands and Ecole des Mines de Douai, France, Exo Environmental is engaged in research into the suitability of using dredged sediment to produce geo-bocks, dependent on the site-specific physio-chemical properties of the dredged sediments and optimisation of the binding method.

 

  • This innovative approach to dredged sediment, based on an underlying proven technology, has the potential to turn a waste material into a viable product with associated economic and environmental benefits.

Geosynthetic Fabrics in the Marine Environment

  • Alongside Tencate Geosynthetics and the University of East Anglia, Exo Environmental is investigating the ecological potential of geosynthetic fabrics in trapping sediments and suitability for micro-algae, thereby providing a substrate for biological colonisation.
  • Microbial biofilms improve the stability of sediment particles, playing an important role in the accumulation and accretion of intertidal and wetland habitats and facilitating the subsequent succession of higher plants.
  • This approach provides a bioengineering solution, which with time, can aid sediment consolidation and prevent erosion, reduce maintenance costs and result in an overall increase in biodiversity health of the system.

Retaining Structures for Habitat Creation

  • The success of habitat creation and restoration projects in both freshwater and marine environments, is heavily dependent on being able to stabilise the newly deposited material. Consolidated sediment reduces the impact of erosion and provides a more suitable substrate for biological colonisation to occur, which in turn, further stabilises sediments and allows the generation of established habitats. Retaining structures can be used during the disposal process in order to facilitate this consolidation and settlement process.
  • At Exo Environmental, we are actively developing traditional methods whilst researching pioneering solutions in order to bring together our experience and knowledge of sediment and water management, to provide innovative and site-specific project design. This ranges from geo-block hard engineering in high energy environments, to hybrid systems comprised of locally sourced materials employed using both traditional and modern methods.
Sediment solidification, sediment stabilisation
Brushwood Faggots, brushwood fascines, polers

Geotextile bags

  • Transport and disposal of dredged material is a significant cost of dredging projects, both economically through direct financial outlay and environmentally, due to CO2 emissions and disruptions during transport and the impact of disposal on receptor sites.
  • Geotextile bags can be employed to address these issues in certain instances. By retaining dredged material within these structures, the material can be dewatered, stabilised and stored on site or beneficially reused. This reduces the need for costly transportation and minimises environmental impact in the disposal process.
  • Exo Environmental specialise in the use of geotextile bags as solutions to dredging project requirements, providing environmental benefits whilst maximising economic gains. Please see our Waterside Marina case study as an example.

Geosynthetic Fabrics in the freshwater environment

In partnership with Tencate Geosynthetics, the University of East Anglia and Tim Foo, Environmental Sciences Graduate, Exo Environmental is testing fabrics in a freshwater environment. This works follows earlier studies carried out in the marine environment.

The fabrics are examined on the ecological potential for biofilms, vegetation and macro-invertebrates. This work is carried out with the help of Pulse Amplitude Modulated (PAM) Fluorometry, to assess the biomass during regular intervals.

The fabrics are examined three separate sites, taking into account some environmental and spatial variability. The study is aimed to support aquatic restoration projects in selecting fabrics with the most ecological potential, parallel to their technical specification.

European Hemp in Bio-Engineering

Natural hemp fibre can be a viable alternative to jute and coir (coconut) in the use of geotextiles and biocomposite materials. In the context of engineering based geotextiles, hemp is under represented, with a paucity of high quality data relating to its use in engineering projects such as erosion control and under layers.

Exo Environmental together with European hemp producers is investigating the potential for hemp fibres to be used in bio-engineering in marine and freshwater environments.

Salhouse, beneficial reuse
Hemp Fabric, bio-engineering

For further information and advice please don’t hesitate to contact us.