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Stop Land Going Under...With Elastocoast Over


In a world with ever increasing natural disasters involving floods, rising sea levels and powerful storms, BASF is working to protect people, animals and ecosystems in coastal regions around the world.



More efficient, safer, cheaper — the new coastal protection solution with Elastocoast takes the sting out of every wave — and every dyke-building budget


On Holm Gröde island for instance. Here, as on all coasts throughout the world, protection of dykes, shores, beaches, electric cables and harbour entrances is essential — particularly when the dangerous spring or autumn storms are on the way. For the inhabitants of Holm islands this means not just floods but also considerable damage left in the wake of water and pounding waves. For example, cracks and sometimes holes in the ground can endanger the stability of the subsoil.


Given the increasing number of flood disasters, rising sea levels and the growing intensity of storms, new, more efficient protective measures are needed. Just making dykes higher all the time is not a solution. But a new, simple, refined method has recently become available — the Elastocoast® polyurethane system.


The procedure was presented to dyke-builders from all over the world at a symposium in Husum, with an on-site demonstration on Holm Gröde. "This method means we're not just saving money but also making daily life easier for Holm residents," says Peter Beismann, director of the rural development department in Schleswig-Holstein, who is responsible for several hundred kilometres of dykes and coastline. "Until now, coastal protection required many kilos of heavy stones to be piled up on top of each other. Now it's much easier."


Two components to serve one end: protection of our coasts


Elastocoast is a two-component synthetic material, about 60 percent of which consists of sustainably produced raw materials. Its advantage also lies in its ease of processing: Gravel or rubble and the fluid polyurethane constituents are mixed together in a cement mixer. The plastic encloses the stones in a thin, transparent film and then the mixture can be poured and fixed in place.


On Holm Gröde, a so-called hedgehog construction has been used. Behind the reinforced flat coastal area, a rim has been deposited consisting of a water-permeable geo-textile, a loose layer of rubble and a top layer of a PU and stone mix. And this really does the job. After just 20 minutes the Elastocoast system starts hardening, and after a day the surface is fully resilient. The top layer now forms an extremely stable yet flexible and porous bracing.


With flexible, Elastocoast-style run-off zones, the toughest breakers can be made smooth as a pancake


"Just compare the land behind the finished construction sections with the area that hasn't yet been renovated using Elastocoast," says Peter Beismann. Where the first sections were laid a few months ago, the land is unharmed — no cracks, dents or holes.


The hedgehog on the Holm's west coast acts primarily as a wave-breaker. The strength of the waves is reduced, thus preventing damage to the flooded salt plains. "The system's special quality is its elasticity," states Professor Erik Pasche of the Institute for Hydraulic Engineering at Hamburg-Harburg University of Technology. Instead of a closed, rigid surface construction, the layer of rubble braced with Elastocoast absorbs the energy of the oncoming water mass. "The polyurethane has two major effects," explains Pasche, who has been the scientific adviser to the Elastocoast project from the beginning. "We achieve optimum adhesion of the stones to contact points, and thus stability. At the same time, the thin top layer of PU makes the construction porous so that no pressure is created inside the system, which could burst the revetment open." Some of the water can flow off directly through the dyke, thus impacting the area behind it much less severly. At the same time, the material is very resistant to abrasion.


Even the smallest coastal inhabitants find Elastocoast good to cling to


The porous structure also allows ecological permeability and offers sufficient scope for plant and animal residents. A glance at the completed sections of the surface confirms this. Mussels and the tiniest creatures have already settled in its cavities. The new wave-breaker revetment on Gröde comprises a total of 3,000 square metres. The project will be completed by the next flood season, and the 17 inhabitants of the Holm can look forward to the future unperturbed. And this great product that takes the sting out of conditions on the harsh north coast in Schleswig-Holstein will soon be able to offer greater protection and security in Holland, England and the USA too.


Elastocoast — Facts

Material:   Elastocoast® — elastomer system
Application:   dyke reinforcement for coastlines
Properties:   durable, open-cell, porous structure, reduces the weight of waves, optimum adhesion of the stones to contact points, easy and quick processing, environment-friendly
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