Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Saving the Coral Reefs

PostedAugust 13, 2017

LEDE: Could coral reefs be saved by a pipeline? That’s the dream of an engineer with an innovative idea to address the effects of climate change.

Randy Atkins: As ocean surface waters warm, coral reefs can bleach, and even die…turning white as colorful algae, that serve as their primary food source, leave. So Mo Ehsani, an Arizona civil engineer, is designing special pipes that could pump cold water from deep in the ocean and cool the coral above.

Mo Ehsani: We have a joint-free pipe. That’s really ideal because you could have it two to three miles, long if that’s what is needed.

Randy Atkins: Ehsani says the system wouldn’t need electricity.

Mo Ehsani: We will simply use the wave action to move the lever inside of that pump up and down and force the water up the pipe.

Randy Atkins: While more research is needed, both in terms of the engineering and the ecosystem effects, it’s one of very few ideas for addressing the growing coral bleaching problem.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.