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Coral Propagation and Transplantation Technologies Implemented by MBE Receive "Environmental Technology Verification" Designation from Ministry of the Environment


Tokyo, June 26, 2013 - Coral propagation and transplantation technologies being implemented in a demonstration project under way in the waters off Ishigaki Island in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Bridge & Steel Structures Engineering Co., Ltd. (MBE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), have been received "Environmental Technology Verification" (ETV) status by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment (MOE). Leveraging this official designation, MBE now aims for the technologies' early widespread adoption.

Two technologies were jointly recognized by the MOE in granting ETV designation: one using a weak electrical current to promote coral growth and the other utilizing electrodeposition technology to transplant coral shelves. The development of technologies has been conducted in collaboration with The University of Tokyo, The Nippon Corrosion Engineering Co., Ltd. (NCE), Ishigaki-based C.P. Farm Co., Ltd. and Akajima Marine Science Laboratory (AMSL), a private research station of Establishment of Tropical Marine Ecological Research (ETMER). MBE received the ETV verification number and official logo from the MOE attesting that the field data have been verified by a third-party.

In the coral propagation demonstration test, a weak electrical current is used to promote coral growth. Specifically, magnesium and other metals are attached to a coral reef consisting primarily of iron, and a weak electrical current is generated using the differential between the ionization properties of the different metals (galvanic anode system), which promotes electrodeposition (adhesion) of the calcium content of the seawater. This process results in the formation of calcium carbonate, a compound with a skeleton identical to that of coral, fostering coral skeleton formation.

This is the first time that electrodeposition technology using the galvanic anode system to continuously supply electricity has been applied to coral propagation. Earlier attempts have made use of external power sources such as solar batteries. The new technology was adopted out of concern for potential damage to power supply equipment from typhoons and in view of problems such as nighttime power supply stoppages.

Owing to their ability to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants, coral reefs play an important role in purifying the earth's environment. But bleaching attributable to higher sea temperatures along with global warming has been reducing coral reefs not only in the waters around Okinawa but increasingly worldwide, creating a major environmental problem.

MBE, by working in collaboration with its academic and corporate partners in the Ishigaki experiment, is aiming to achieve early widespread adoption of the new coral propagation and transplantation technologies. At the same time, the company plans to proceed aggressively forward with other related projects: these include a floating pier project integrating MHI's swing reduction floating body technology and coral transplantation technology, and new projects involving integration with steel structures.

In commemoration of the designation of ETV status by the MOE, from June 26 MHI will offer a video introduction to its initiatives in coral reproduction in the CSR Zone of M's Square, the company showroom located on the second floor of its Shinagawa Head Office Building in Tokyo.

Coral growth shelf being tested near Ishigaki Island since 2008
(photographed in February 2013)


Business contact:Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Bridge & Steel Structures Engineering Co., Ltd.

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