Mineral accretion

KeysCoral

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Hi!
I am attempting an experiment to accrete minerals from seawater to grow a calcium layer on metal in a saltwater tank. I am running into some issues chemistry wise, because later on in my experiment I plan to introduce coral fragments, but I need to avoid things like chlorine buildup, iron, and ion loss in the water itself.
I'm wondering if anyone can guide me on a way to mimic what an Apex system might mitigate, but at a much simpler/cost effective level? I am not in a rush to introduce anything live to this tank, so as long as I can create consistent accretion I am happy to tweak the water quality again and again.
So in short, 1.) does anyone know how I can minimize the chlorine buildup that will occur around the anode in my system? 2.) due to metal needing to be the accretion substrate to complete the circuit, does anyone know how I can stop intrusion of iron into my system? 3.) Is there a manual (or digital at a low price point) way to dose for ion concentration?
I am able to "plumb" this system however I want, initially I was hoping for a static system to make my life easier, but if flow through is what will fix most of my issues (besides the chlorine) then maybe that's the way I need to go. I already have access to more advanced types of water quality monitoring like a ysi/sampling, which is why I am reluctant to go full scale with an Apex system.
Thanks in advance!
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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What do you mean by

I'm wondering if anyone can guide me on a way to mimic what an Apex system might mitigate, but at a much simpler/cost effective level?

What does an apex system mitigate in this context?

I presume you mean accretion driven by electrochemistry, which I think is going to have tox issues in a closed system that I do not see an easy way around, nor why it is desirable.

I guess I'm not understanding the whole idea. Solid precipitates do not themselves help corals.

It sounds like you are looking for a way to maintain alkalinity and calcium without dosing them? I do not think there's a way to do that.

There are lots of articles on seawater electrochemistry to make things like H2.
 
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KeysCoral

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What do you mean by

I'm wondering if anyone can guide me on a way to mimic what an Apex system might mitigate, but at a much simpler/cost effective level?

What does an apex system mitigate in this context?

I presume you mean accretion driven by electrochemistry, which I think is going to have tox issues in a closed system that I do not see an easy way around, nor why it is desirable.

I guess I'm not understanding the whole idea. Solid precipitates do not themselves help corals.

It sounds like you are looking for a way to maintain alkalinity and calcium without dosing them? I do not think there's a way to do that.

There are lots of articles on seawater electrochemistry to make things like H2.
Thanks for the reply!

This idea is still very much in infancy and I am open to input! I work at a land-based coral nursery and the goal is to use electrolysis to sequester calcium carbonate from our seawater tanks and let it accrete onto a substrate (for now I am planning to use rebar because it is cheap/accessible). By letting the calcium carbonate build up on the rebar, a layer will form, and then coral fragments will be adhered to that coated rebar with the hopes of increasing their growth rate.

I have access to a flow through system (I didn't realize that in my initial post), and so I should not have much issue with chlorine or deionized water, I am now just wondering if a system as thorough and constant as Apex is necessary to monitor my water quality for things like heavy metals, chlorine, or ion concentration, or if a simpler weekly water sampling kit would do the job?
I do also have access to further water analysis through an OA lab, I plan to monitor all the usual parameters using a ysi daily, and again coral will not be applied to the system for a while (I am thinking a month to allow for calcium buildup on the rebar).

I appreciate any thoughts you might have about issues I may run into, I am trying to troubleshoot as much as I can prior to fully setting up the system!
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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. By letting the calcium carbonate build up on the rebar, a layer will form, and then coral fragments will be adhered to that coated rebar with the hopes of increasing their growth rate.

Poking at that assumption, is the purpose of the calcium carbonate purely to allow them to adhere, or something else?

What would be increasing their growth rate? Nearby accreted calcium carbonate itself won't impact coral growth.

IMO, electrically stimulated coral growth comes from elevated pH and possibly alkalinity in the water. That is also why calcium carbonate accretes.

I know some of the Biorock authors like to claim it is more complicated and special, but I'm skeptical.

In any case, the goal of accreting the calcium carbonate is my main question. If you just want it there for adhesion, you could accrete the meta in the absence of corals, then add them.
 
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KeysCoral

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Poking at that assumption, is the purpose of the calcium carbonate purely to allow them to adhere, or something else?

What would be increasing their growth rate? Nearby accreted calcium carbonate itself won't impact coral growth.

IMO, electrically stimulated coral growth comes from elevated pH and possibly alkalinity in the water. That is also why calcium carbonate accretes.

I know some of the Biorock authors like to claim it is more complicated and special, but I'm skeptical.

In any case, the goal of accreting the calcium carbonate is my main question. If you just want it there for adhesion, you could accrete the meta in the absence of corals, then add them.
Hi Randy! Sorry I was away for a bit,

The goal is to sequester the calcium carb as well as other skeletal growth minerals to yes, increase the overall growth rate of the coral. Because of the anode/cathode/electrolysis the pH and alkalinity will be altered, so if you feel like that is the driving factor in increased growth then that still works for me!

Why are you not sold on Biorock? The initial company/methods aren't my favorite either, but since their patent ended other companies have popped up and I first hand saw the structures in Thailand, coral is growing on the electrified structures faster than the non-electrified.

I've been intrigued by mineral accretion and the relationship between quality of coral growth vs. growth rate for some time, hence why I am trying to figure out how to do it at a tank level which has never been done before from a data driven standpoint!
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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I think the accretion and the increased coral growth rate are are both caused by the same factors (e.g., pH and alkalinity) and that means that the accretion is not needed or useful to attain the increased coral growth. It is a byproduct. We see that clearly in reef tanks where corals grow faster at higher pH and higher alkalinity.

If testing it in a reef tank is just a model for what happens in the ocean to corals that attach, that's fine, but I worry that things like chlorine that normally dilute away will not be so diluted and one may get undesirable effects.

Second question is whether the mineral "surface" is especially well suited to collect natural marine organisms by natural attachment of juveniles. That may be true, but things also attach to metal, plastics, etc.. Reef tanks do not get a lot of natural growths so it's a difficult thing to assess in a reef tank. But in general, bare calcium carbonate surfaces do not seem better at attracting coralline algae, microalgae, diatoms, or dinoflagellates than do surfaces such as plastic and glass. Coralline algae, for example, is noted to attach to plastic surfaces before bare calcium carbonate rocks.

As to Biorock, I have no problem with the process overall, noting its severe limitation of being only a local solution to a small area, but they sometimes go off discussing ideas that the electricity itself is providing some benefit, which seems unjustified to me. This sort of statement seems to me like something you'd see on late night television for a secret fat burning pill:

"All other marine organisms examined also benefit. These amazing results happen because the Biorock™ process creates the ideal biophysical conditions that all forms of life use to make biochemical energy. This also has enormous implications for medicine and agriculture that we will develop."

Overall, the whole process obviously can work with or without electricity, but it seems to me more like creating underwater arboretums, rather than finding a way to preserve an entire forest.
 

George Engineer

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Hi all,

Civil Engineer here, I’ve worked with the creator of Biorock Inc, and have collaborated on research with the Army Corps of Engineers on the scalability of this solution to regenerating Florida’s shorelines and reef systems.

The coral growth rate enhancement process is partly due to the accretion of minerals; however the main driver of increased productivity in Biorock reefs and what allows these reefs to survive long term coral bleaching events is not the mineral accretion. The Electrolysis process causes the release of free electrons through the conductive field of seawater in between in the Anode and Cathode. The highest level of free electrons are found directly on the Cathode as that is the “receiver” of electrons.

The results is at the most basic level of life, all beings benefit from “free energy” or usable free electrons to carry on internal biochemical processes. At the extreme, during intense bleaching events biorock reefs survive with close to 100% survival while neighboring reefs have almost complete die off because they can survive off the free electrons for energy temporarily during the time the Zooxanthellae is ejected from the coral, and they lack this key energy source.

The Mineral accretion allows for rapid “foundational” growth of suitable substrate for the reefs and their skeletons as well as a source for sand generation to reverse coastal erosion; yet the true driver of the Biorock process is the free electrons made available. This is also the reason we have found much higher levels of fish biodiversity and fish populations in Biorock reefs as the fish population benefit from this effect as well.

At scale the main limiting factor is scalable energy generation and delivery, yet the results are undisputed by the Army Corps.

In a closed system as you mention it is the dilution and buffering of the byproducts of this effect, such as you mentioned chlorines or more explosively hydrogen gas (dont keep this tank indoors). We are currently beginning to set up closed loop tests to test the impact of desalination brine discharge on biorock reefs as the higher conductivity may enhance this effect to a degree.

My thoughts on your situation is to either use a very large sump tank to continuously flow “fresh” supply of seawater to your systems, while highly aerating the coral tank “effluent” to gas off the chlorine as it re-enters the the sump tank through a pre-filtration area/tank before re-entering the main “cleaned seawater” sump section, this should assist in the gassing of of the chlorine as it is already unstable in water. The closer you get to the natural hydraulic system seen in open water biorock systems, the more stable yours will be. The big question is what is the ratio of electrolysis production to volume of sump tank + grow tank water to allow for sustainable dilution and gas off time for the electrolysis byproducts as well as the retention time of coral tank effluent in the prefiltration area/tank to gas out the byproducts.

Best of luck!
 
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KeysCoral

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Hi all,

Civil Engineer here, I’ve worked with the creator of Biorock Inc, and have collaborated on research with the Army Corps of Engineers on the scalability of this solution to regenerating Florida’s shorelines and reef systems.

The coral growth rate enhancement process is partly due to the accretion of minerals; however the main driver of increased productivity in Biorock reefs and what allows these reefs to survive long term coral bleaching events is not the mineral accretion. The Electrolysis process causes the release of free electrons through the conductive field of seawater in between in the Anode and Cathode. The highest level of free electrons are found directly on the Cathode as that is the “receiver” of electrons.

The results is at the most basic level of life, all beings benefit from “free energy” or usable free electrons to carry on internal biochemical processes. At the extreme, during intense bleaching events biorock reefs survive with close to 100% survival while neighboring reefs have almost complete die off because they can survive off the free electrons for energy temporarily during the time the Zooxanthellae is ejected from the coral, and they lack this key energy source.

The Mineral accretion allows for rapid “foundational” growth of suitable substrate for the reefs and their skeletons as well as a source for sand generation to reverse coastal erosion; yet the true driver of the Biorock process is the free electrons made available. This is also the reason we have found much higher levels of fish biodiversity and fish populations in Biorock reefs as the fish population benefit from this effect as well.

At scale the main limiting factor is scalable energy generation and delivery, yet the results are undisputed by the Army Corps.

In a closed system as you mention it is the dilution and buffering of the byproducts of this effect, such as you mentioned chlorines or more explosively hydrogen gas (dont keep this tank indoors). We are currently beginning to set up closed loop tests to test the impact of desalination brine discharge on biorock reefs as the higher conductivity may enhance this effect to a degree.

My thoughts on your situation is to either use a very large sump tank to continuously flow “fresh” supply of seawater to your systems, while highly aerating the coral tank “effluent” to gas off the chlorine as it re-enters the the sump tank through a pre-filtration area/tank before re-entering the main “cleaned seawater” sump section, this should assist in the gassing of of the chlorine as it is already unstable in water. The closer you get to the natural hydraulic system seen in open water biorock systems, the more stable yours will be. The big question is what is the ratio of electrolysis production to volume of sump tank + grow tank water to allow for sustainable dilution and gas off time for the electrolysis byproducts as well as the retention time of coral tank effluent in the prefiltration area/tank to gas out the byproducts.

Best of luck!
Hi George! Thanks so much for contributing to this!

The company CoralAid attests that you calculate your amperage (and thus electrolysis production) by the surface area of your substrate, 1amp/square meter. So my plan is to have a sheet of metal with predrilled holes for coral plugs and by knowing the surface area of that metal sheet I'll get my target amperage.

I love what you're saying about the "free energy", and I agree completely, which is why I am hoping this is very "scalable" in an ex-situ nursery setting.

The sump idea you mentioned should be synonymous with the system I am going to use except for the fact that it isn't a closed loop like I had originally thought, I will be able to have flow through with pre-regulated water (chemicals and temp are kept at constants). So, with any luck my tank settings should work for me as long as I don't get heavy metal or chlorine buildup!

I don't know if you're willing to share more about your research, but I would love to get some information on what you were measuring to quantify growth rate? Right now all I have planned is surface area of the physical corals and buoyant weight, I'm trying not to overload myself with research questions but would love to overcollect data that would potentially help in future questions later on!

Again, thanks for the reply! It's awesome to hear a fellow Florida dweller is working on MAT, it's been an uphill battle for me stateside to pursue it academically/professionally.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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highest level of free electrons are found directly on the Cathode as that is the “receiver” of electrons.

The results is at the most basic level of life, all beings benefit from “free energy” or usable free electrons to carry on internal biochemical processes. At the extreme, during intense bleaching events biorock reefs survive with close to 100% survival while neighboring reefs have almost complete die off because they can survive off the free electrons for energy temporarily during the time the Zooxanthellae is ejected from the coral, and they lack this key energy source.

The Mineral accretion allows for rapid “foundational” growth of suitable substrate for the reefs and their skeletons as well as a source for sand generation to reverse coastal erosion; yet the true driver of the Biorock process is the free electrons made available. This is also the reason we have found much higher levels of fish biodiversity and fish populations in Biorock reefs as the fish population benefit from this effect as well.

Sadly, I don’t think that set of claims makes the least bit of scientific sense.

Free electrons benefit all life? Seriously? Fish even? Utterly unbelievable. How do you believe fish gather up “free electrons” and what do you think they do with them?

Perhaps you just misunderstood what is actually known is happening, and some folks know better, but the way it is written is exactly like so many other scams.
 
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KeysCoral

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Sadly, I don’t think that set of claims makes the least bit of scientific sense.

Free electrons benefit all life? Seriously? Fish even? Utterly unbelievable. How do you believe fish gather up “free electrons” and what do you think they do with them?

Perhaps you just misunderstood what is actually known is happening, and some folks know better, but the way it is written is exactly like so many other scams.
I do agree with you to an extent on this. It's vastly under-researched from a chemical standpoint, coral physiology standpoint, and application standpoint. But that is why I'm aiming to add more data to the pool/applications of parts of the methodology, and while Biorock was always pretty negligent in their data collection I intend to be thorough via water testing/measurement parameters of the coral. I don't claim to understand much about the skeletal building pathways that corals invoke when processing the minerals they need, but we do know for certain the minerals required are present in seawater. We also understand the physiological processes required to build skeleton implement negative charges (research out of KAUST in 2021), so electrons are not out of the question no?

I know there is a lot going on question wise in this experiment/research avenue, but that only motivates me more. Electrolysis in my tanks will cause a change in pH, and I'm hoping to be able to pinpoint what pH seems to be optimal for accelerated growth if that is in fact what occurs.

I really appreciate your input, the chemistry side of things is a weaker point for me than, say, the structure implementation or restoration methods as that is my current career path, so I'll keep this forum updated as I am set to begin the experiment this month!
 

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