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Biorock or mineral accretion technology

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Biorock or mineral accretion technology

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the technology.

 Context: The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), with help from Gujarat’s forest department, is attempting for the first time a process to restore coral reefs using biorock or mineral accretion technology in the Gulf of Kachchh.

What is Biorock?

It is the name given to the substance formed by electro accumulation of minerals dissolved in seawater on steel structures that are lowered onto the sea bed and are connected to a power source, in this case solar panels that float on the surface.

How they are formed?

  1. The technology works by passing a small amount of electrical current through electrodes in the water.
  2. When a positively charged anode and negatively charged cathode are placed on the sea floor, with an electric current flowing between them, calcium ions combine with carbonate ions and adhere to the structure (cathode).
  3. This results in calcium carbonate formation. Coral larvae adhere to the CaCO3 and grow quickly.
  4. Fragments of broken corals are tied to the biorock structure, where they are able to grow at least four to six times faster than their actual growth as they need not spend their energy in building their own calcium carbonate skeletons.

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Sources: the Hindu.