December 21, 2023

Natrx Amelia Facility in the News

KATC News came out to take a look at our new Resilience Center of Excellence and get the details on what this means for our ability to deploy Adaptive Infrastructure solutions globally. For more detail on the facility, you can read this recent post:

Natrx Establishes a Resilience Center of Excellence with Global Reach in Southern Louisiana

And you can read the whole story at

Nature-based coastal resilience solutions facility opens in Amelia

November 14, 2023

Natrx Awarded $1 Million Grant by the National Science Foundation

Natrx Awarded $1 Million Grant by the National Science Foundation to Develop Technology for Measuring Carbon Value in Coastal Wetlands

Small Business Innovation Research Program Funds R&D
to Fuel “Blue Carbon Economy”

RALEIGH, N.C. (Nov. 14, 2023) – Leading climate tech company Natrx has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to continue development of its remote-sensing technology designed to quantify the economic value of carbon stock in coastal wetlands. The $1 million award to advance Natrx’s Resilience for Waterfront Infrastructure (REWIRE) platform is also eligible for additional matching funds from NSF that would push the grant total to $1.7 million.

Natrx’s technology and data-driven approach to carbon and biodiversity accounting in wetland ecosystems will lead to the emergence of sustainable new business models. The REWIRE platform will also facilitate private financing of nature-based restoration projects that protect communities and fuel local economies. Natrx’s innovative approach integrates remotely-sensed and field-based data, and applies artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to map coastal erosion rates, blue carbon, and biodiversity at high spatial resolution.

“The REWIRE platform will be a critical tool in appraising the carbon value that exists in coastal areas,” said Leonard Nelson, CEO of Natrx. “We are deeply appreciative of the continued recognition and investment from NSF that will help unlock value that can lead to sustainable, blue carbon economies where they’re needed most.”

In 2021, Natrx was also awarded NSF funding for Phase I of this project. Phase I focused on the development of AI and geospatial software tools for assessing hyper-local, hydrodynamic and erosive conditions at high resolution.

As part of Phase II, the Center for Geospatial Analytics at North Carolina State University will help power the geospatial processing capabilities of the REWIRE approach using the GRASS GIS open-source software. Dr. Vaclav Petras, Research Software Engineer at NC State, will oversee integration of GRASS GIS APIs into REWIRE.

“The collaboration with Natrx allows us to contribute to open-source software development by enhancing the existing tooling, and contribute to open science by making more algorithms readily available,” said Dr. Petras.

All initiatives considered by the NSF for SBIR grants undergo a rigorous merit-based review. The program supports scientific excellence and technological innovation that is moving from the lab to the market.

Most of the world's coastal habitats are vulnerable to erosion which can have wide-ranging negative impacts on local economies. Enhancing shoreline resilience and biodiversity can unlock the value of coastal ecosystems by supporting nature-based infrastructure, sustainable fisheries, tourism, and clean water. These “blue economy” opportunities offer environmental benefits as well as social benefits of economic equity and environmental justice for low-income and underserved communities.

October 26, 2023

Pamlico River Project in the National News

The work we're doing on the Pamlico River with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries was covered today by ABC News. They spent some time with our COO, Tad Schwendler, to understand the project, how our approach works, and what the project aims to achieve. The video they produced as well as the original article are available below.

We're thrilled that our advanced technology approach to delivering nature-based resilience and restoration is getting this kind of national attention. More attention will lead to more consideration of how to address these challenges. And more consideration, from us and from other innovative approaches, will be how we'll be able to make real impact.

(See the original story here at ABC News)


Installation underway of 15 acres of 3D-printed artificial reefs in coastal North Carolina

Several acres of 3D-printed artificial reefs are currently being planted in coastal North Carolina to bolster the region's biodiversity and promote new growth of natural reef.

The reefs, 3-foot concrete cubes called "Exoforms" that contain a lot of void space to allow marine life to thrive, are being planted in the Palmico River, a large estuary system on North Carolina's Atlantic Coast, Tad Schwendler, COO of environmental solutions firm Natrx, told ABC News.

The roughness and irregularities of the structures leaves room for species at the bottom of the food chain, such as algae and other microorganisms, to grow, which then attract the larger species, Schwendler said.

The 15-acre installation is part of a two-year project by the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina and the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries,in Pamlico Sound and its tributaries. The deployment began on Oct. 20 and is expected to be complete by the end of the week.

The reef site will be one of 25 artificial reefs managed by the DMF. In May 2022, a similar artificial reef was deployed upstream, near the mouth of Bath Creek, Schwendler said.

The reefs will promote cleaner water and provide habitat for a variety of marine life, including fish, oysters, mussels, crustaceans and other invertebrates, Schwendler said. Important game fish, such as red drum, bass and speckled trout, are also expected to flock to the location once the reefs are settled and thriving.

Recreational fishing tends to cluster in certain locations in North Carolina, and promoting biodiversity in other parts of the state will allow that activity to spread out, Schwendler said.

"It's better for the ecosystem," he said.

The artificial reefs will also serve as skeletons for natural reefs to grow, Schwendler said. For the natural reefs to recur naturally, they need a substrate to grow upon, Schwendler said.

In recent years, coastal North Carolina has been experiencing environmental issues such as coastal erosion from sea level rise and more development along the coast.

"By creating these artificial reefs, it helps improve the resilience of our coastline, especially since a lot of the natural reefs in the U.S. have been lost over the years," Schwendler said.

The project is a prime example of using technology and natural systems to protect shorelines and make them more resilient, Schwendler said.

Natural systems are the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way to promote biodiversity, Schwendler said.

"These estuarine reef installations represent significant milestones in the use of adaptive infrastructure technology in North Carolina," Leonard Nelson, CEO of Natrx, said in a statement.

In addition to promoting biodiversity, artificial reefs have been found to capture carbon, according to a study published earlier this month by the Friends of the RGV Reef, a Texas-based conservation organization, and the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley.

The two-year study found that sponges and soft corals that cover the RGV Reef, the largest and most complex artificial reef off the Texas coast, do contain high amounts of carbon dioxide "in some significant proportion," the researchers found. Both the reef’s structure, the bottom or sediment, as well as the biomass, fish and other marine life in the water column, is capturing or trapping carbon, the scientists said.

October 23, 2023

Natrx ExoForms™ Featured in Biodiversity Restoration Project

A project that we've been working on in the Pamlico River with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and the North Carolina Coastal Conservation Association was featured on WITN news this past week. We're proud this piece demonstrates how our custom-designed ExoForms™ can be an ideal part of building back biodiversity in coastal waterways, but we're also proud of how this piece demonstrates that it takes positive and productive partnerships to bring these projects to life.

View the original piece with video on WITN here.

Environmental groups have partnered with the state Division of Marine Fisheries to improve one waterway in the east.

By Deric Rush
Published: Oct. 20, 2023 at 5:53 PM CDT

Concrete Exoforms are 3D-printed cement artificial oyster reefs designed by Raleigh-based environmental engineering group Natrx and purchased by the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina.

Once the project is complete officials say the reef site will cover 15 acres of the Pamlico River. It is the second artificial reef deployment.

The reefs are being deployed in an effort to provide refuge for oysters, and important fish species such as red drum, and sheepshead for example.

Environmentalists say it’s important to promote biodiversity and vibrance within the river ecosystem.

“They actually lower those into the water and then you know in the next handful of months invertebrates and other things will start to kind of grow on there we’ll have some moisture settle on there next spring and they’ll be great places to fish you know by next summer,” said Jordan Byrum with NC Division of Marine Fisheries.

“There’s been years and years of decline in our fisheries here in North Carolina and I think habitat projects like this are essential so this is one of those steps that that we can take you know using partnerships like this with Natrx that we can actually have an impact on today,” added Matthew Wallin with Coastal Conservation Association.

The department says they plan to have the reefs deployed by the end of the month.

Copyright 2023 WITN. All rights reserved.

August 2, 2023

Natrx Shell Bag Innovation Being Put To The Test

Natrx is teaming up with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) to introduce an innovative technology that aims to replace the commonly used, yet less desirable and less effective, plastic shell bags.

Traditionally, plastic shell bags have been utilized to bolster coastal resilience in low wave energy situations. These bags are typically filled with recycled oyster shells. However, the use of plastic in this method poses several challenges, as it tends to release harmful chemicals and disintegrates into harmful microplastics over time. Although more eco-friendly options like jute, coconut, or biodegradable plastics have been attempted, they haven't proven to be a sustainable long-term solution.

Enter Natrx - in collaboration with the CBF and various commercial partners - on a mission to develop a practical and high-performance alternative to plastic shell bags. Extensive research into natural fibers, coatings, and plastic alternatives revealed that fibers spun from basalt rock, a naturally occurring lava rock, hold immense promise. Basalt fibers have already demonstrated their efficacy across various applications since the late 1990s, and now, Natrx is working to adapt this material to create environmentally friendly shell bags.

Currently, this project with the CBF along the Elizabeth River is in its pilot phase, designed to put the material to the test in practical use. The basalt-based shell bags being utilized here are the first prototypes, and the primary objective is to assess their viability. Subsequent prototypes will follow, exploring a wider range of applications and possibilities.

July 10, 2023

Natrx Technology At the Center of CCA REEF Louisiana Program

"This technology could open the door for a new wave of CCA reef projects as we experiment with different module sizes and designs. In the future, we could conceivably create reef materials specifically designed to optimize each reef location."

-- John Walther, CCA Louisiana Vice President of Habitat 

A Natrx project and partnership with CCA, The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Danos, and White Water Contractors in south Louisiana was featured on KATC 3 News.

This artificial reef project uses 128 Natrx ExoForms or "Cajun Coral" which were designed and manufactured specifically for the site.

"Located in about 20 feet of water, the new reef replaces that lost habitat, providing habitat for trout, redfish, and a diverse range of marine species, according to a spokesperson for CCA."

Watch the entire story at KATC3's website.

October 24, 2022

Natrx ExoForms Featured on PBS North Carolina

We're thrilled to have had our ExoForms and our patented forming process featured on PBS North Carolina's show Sci NC.

In this piece you'll get an overview of our 3D forming process. Unlike traditional methods that make use of "materials of convenience" like recycled pipes, concrete, or even old ships, our process uses a minimal amount of material in the creation of our naturalistically-shaped, coastal protection modules. And unlike any recycled or traditional materials that have been in common use, our ExoForms are designed specifically for the sites where they are used to break up wave energy and provide safe, beneficial habitats for local aquatic life.

Give it a watch for a closer look at how our innovative 3D forming process is creating new opportunities for coastal protection and ecosystem resilience. And thank you, PBS NC!

You can get more detail on our Natrx ExoForms here: Natrx ExoForms Tech Overview

And you can view the whole episode and more in the series here at PBS NC.

March 1, 2021

A Closer Look at The Natrx OysterBreak System

Nature based solutions can allow you to deploy material that you don’t pay for that helps protect essential habitat.  The videos below take you through key elements of the Oysterbreak solution, and performance during the heavy 2020 hurricane season.

The Natrx Oysterbreak (US Patent# 9144228B1) is a modular breakwater designed to support coastal protection through a high-strength modular design and special material additives to support biological growth.  The system can be manufactured at large scale through local pre-cast manufacturers.  The Oysterbreak design can be modified to support other key species such as corals, vegetative species upon request.  Over 50,000 linear feet of storm-tested living shorelines have been deployed utilizing modular Oysterbreak technology.


As opposed to other traditional construction techniques such as rock revetments and seawalls, the Oysterbreak leaves ecological shoreline transitions intact, which supports fisheries and helps ensure stability for storm resilience.  Natural growth provides additional strength development over time as shown in the plot below from a scientific test of an early installation at an erosional site at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge.



The studies key findings included, paraphrased from Risinger, 2012:

Increased Height: Oyster shell height measurements of 50 cm were recorded after six months growth, with oyster counts exceeding 500 per m^2 on the artificial concrete modular breakwater reefs.

Increased Strength: A significant increase in ASTM 78 standards for flexural strength over time from an initial 28-day curing load of 100 lbs to loads of 479 lbs in six months and 1,344 lbs in two years.

Sediment Accretion:  Pilot scale breakwater emplacements dominated by biological growth accumulated nearly 4 m3 of sediment over four years, representing over 300% of original mass deployed.

Figure above Ref: Risinger, J. D. 2012. “Biologically Dominated Engineered Coastal Breakwaters."


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