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.