Newly developed eco-friendly bags to withstand erosion in arctic regions

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Washington, October 8 (ANI): French and Norwegian partners of a scientific project have developed a robust geosynthetic bag that can be filled with locally available, low-grade soil and used to build protective infrastructures capable of withstanding sea and ice erosion in the harsh Arctic climate.

Coastal roads and harbours are traditionally protected from sea erosion by giant blocks of rock or geosynthetic bags filled with material, all locally sourced where possible.

In the Arctic and other cold northern regions, where good quality material is often scarce, the prohibitive economic and environmental cost of importing suitable matter has led to a demand for solutions that make use of whatever low quality soil or other material is available.

Geosynthetic bags, which are typically woven textile, polymer-based envelopes, have been successfully used for more than 40 years in temperate climates, but have not been tested in sub-zero conditions.

EUREKA project E! 3702 GISSAC was initiated by TenCate Geosynthetics France, a world-leader in the design and production of geosynthetic materials for civil engineering projects.

The company wanted to find out if geosynthetic bags worked in very cold conditions, and to come up with a product that was both environmentally friendly and sustainable.

"Our northern European sales offices asked us to develop suitable materials for cold regions where the temperature is rarely above zero," explained Dr Olivier Artieres, TenCate's Innovation Project Manager and Senior Expert.

The GISSAC project team, with the support of EUREKA and the Norwegian-French Foundation, set about developing envelopes made with textiles comprising different structures (woven, non-woven and knitted) and different types of polymers.

Laboratory tests and analysis of on-site results were conducted by French partner CETE Est LRPC Nancy and Norwegian subcontractor UNIS, with PhD and MsC students taking part in the fieldwork.

The project also entailed establishing the optimum shape and size of the geosynthetic bags, or Geobags, and the best method of installation.

Geobags made from different types of textile were installed along a 100 metre stretch of coastline near a mining camp on Svalbard operated by project partner Store Norske Spitsbergen Grubekompani (SNSG).

Over three winters, their response was monitored to the cold, ice movement, currents, abrasion and other stresses characteristic of the area.

The results were so good that SNSG used the Geobags to repair a damaged quay wall in the local harbour instead of locally available rocks.

The inexpensive, sustainable solution will be launched on the market in early 2010. (ANI)

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