HKMU researcher contributes to ocean health through collaborative project on development of eco-friendly materials for seawalls

School of Science and Technology HKMU researcher contributes to ocean health through collaborative project on development of eco-friendly materials for seawalls

HKMU researcher contributes to ocean health through collaborative project on development of eco-friendly materials for seawalls

Date: 26 July 2023

Environmental science is one of the strategic research areas of Hong Kong Metropolitan University (HKMU). Dr Juan Carlos Astudillo Placencia, Assistant Professor in the School of Science and Technology, will start to work on a research project which involves exploring eco-engineering works at the rip rap seawall in south Hong Kong through the use of innovative eco-concrete features to augment habitat complexity. Through this project and his other innovative research, he hopes to demonstrate the benefits of eco-engineering of seawalls to the general public.

Dr Astudillo is a marine ecologist with strong interest and experience in marine biodiversity assessment, invasive biology and ecological engineering for habitat rehabilitation. With his deep concern for Hong Kong's marine health, he has been actively involved in a number of ecological engineering and environmental restoration projects that provide solutions for enhancing the city's marine biodiversity, focusing on the development of innovative eco-friendly building materials, such as eco-tile.

As a result of urban development and large-scale land reclamation, Hong Kong's natural coastline has been increasingly replaced by artificial seawalls, mostly with plain concrete structures that cause habitat loss and a decrease in marine life, affecting the health of the environment and water quality. Dr Astudillo, in collaboration with academics from the State Key Laboratory of Marine Pollution of the City University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, developed the eco-tile by upcycling ashes from the Tuen Mun T-Park incinerator and marine sediment from dredging of Hong Kong harbour or navigation channel to create a mimetic of a natural habitat for the “concrete seawall” resulting from land reclamation, thereby promoting biodiversity and easing the problem of municipal solid waste at the same time.

The eco-tile encourages the growth of marine life and contributes to a healthy ecosystem. The crevices and holes in the eco-tile harbour twice as many marine species, from oysters to fish, as traditional seawalls commonly used around the world. These species can promote seawater filtration and sustainable fisheries. Made from recycled materials, the eco-tile effectively reduces the carbon footprint by 20-40% compared to traditional concrete. In addition, it is applicable to various types of seawalls and environments globally. With future large-scale deployments, the barren seawalls around the world can be transformed into thriving, biodiverse ecosystems.

The project won a Gold Medal with Congratulations of the Jury and a Special Prize earlier at the 48th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva, and also a Gold Medal in Asia International Innovation Invention Exhibition 2023. The honours are significant recognition of Dr Astudillo's efforts in fostering ocean health and healing the marine ecosystem, and also give a strong boost to HKMU's commitment to having a positive impact on the environment through innovative research.

Dr Astudillo is very concerned about Hong Kong's marine health and is actively involved in a number of ecological engineering and environmental restoration projects.
The collaborative project “eco-tile” has won a number of awards.
Jonathan Chiu
Marketing Director
3DP Technology Limited

Jonathan handles all external affairs include business development, patents write up and public relations. He is frequently interviewed by media and is considered a pioneer in 3D printing products.

Krutz Cheuk
Biomedical Engineer
Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital

After graduating from OUHK, Krutz obtained an M.Sc. in Engineering Management from CityU. He is now completing his second master degree, M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering, at CUHK. Krutz has a wide range of working experience. He has been with Siemens, VTech, and PCCW.

Hugo Leung
Software and Hardware Engineer
Innovation Team Company Limited

Hugo Leung Wai-yin, who graduated from his four-year programme in 2015, won the Best Paper Award for his ‘intelligent pill-dispenser’ design at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering’s International Conference on Consumer Electronics – China 2015.

The pill-dispenser alerts patients via sound and LED flashes to pre-set dosage and time intervals. Unlike units currently on the market, Hugo’s design connects to any mobile phone globally. In explaining how it works, he said: ‘There are three layers in the portable pillbox. The lowest level is a controller with various devices which can be connected to mobile phones in remote locations. Patients are alerted by a sound alarm and flashes. Should they fail to follow their prescribed regime, data can be sent via SMS to relatives and friends for follow up.’ The pill-dispenser has four medicine slots, plus a back-up with a LED alert, topped by a 500ml water bottle. It took Hugo three months of research and coding to complete his design, but he feels it was worth all his time and effort.

Hugo’s public examination results were disappointing and he was at a loss about his future before enrolling at the OUHK, which he now realizes was a major turning point in his life. He is grateful for the OUHK’s learning environment, its industry links and the positive guidance and encouragement from his teachers. The University is now exploring the commercial potential of his design with a pharmaceutical company. He hopes that this will benefit the elderly and chronically ill, as well as the society at large.

Soon after completing his studies, Hugo joined an automation technology company as an assistant engineer. He is responsible for the design and development of automation devices. The target is to minimize human labor and increase the quality of products. He is developing products which are used in various sections, including healthcare, manufacturing and consumer electronics.

Course Code Title Credits
  COMP S321F Advanced Database and Data Warehousing 5
  COMP S333F Advanced Programming and AI Algorithms 5
  COMP S351F Software Project Management 5
  COMP S362F Concurrent and Network Programming 5
  COMP S363F Distributed Systems and Parallel Computing 5
  COMP S382F Data Mining and Analytics 5
  COMP S390F Creative Programming for Games 5
  COMP S492F Machine Learning 5
  ELEC S305F Computer Networking 5
  ELEC S348F IOT Security 5
  ELEC S371F Digital Forensics 5
  ELEC S431F Blockchain Technologies 5
  ELEC S425F Computer and Network Security 5
 Course CodeTitleCredits
 ELEC S201FBasic Electronics5
 IT S290FHuman Computer Interaction & User Experience Design5
 STAT S251FStatistical Data Analysis5
 Course CodeTitleCredits
 COMPS333FAdvanced Programming and AI Algorithms5
 COMPS362FConcurrent and Network Programming5
 COMPS363FDistributed Systems and Parallel Computing5
 COMPS380FWeb Applications: Design and Development5
 COMPS381FServer-side Technologies and Cloud Computing5
 COMPS382FData Mining and Analytics5
 COMPS390FCreative Programming for Games5
 COMPS413FApplication Design and Development for Mobile Devices5
 COMPS492FMachine Learning5
 ELECS305FComputer Networking5
 ELECS363FAdvanced Computer Design5
 ELECS425FComputer and Network Security5