Antonio Corredor Molguero and Carlos Fermín Menéndez Díaz
Concrete mould for better breakwaters
Finalists for the European Inventor Award 2019
Breakwaters – traditionally made by randomly placing large, misshapen cubic cement blocks to take the brunt force of waves - help reduce erosion and provide a sheltered harbour for boats. Though quick and simple to produce, they tend to stick together, which reduces their strength and stability over time. With the effects of climate change putting greater strain on already vulnerable port and harbour structures, stronger costal defences need to be developed.
An unusually-shaped block, called the Cubipod, was invented by researchers Josep Ramon Medina and Esther Gómez-Martín at the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Spain to provide a solution to this problem. The patented Cubipod block has protrusions on each surface, which prevents blocks from moving over time to settle face to face – a ‘self-packing’ arrangement – and helps maintain the integrity of the breakwater. While more effective than traditional flat-faced blocks however, in order to be commercially viable, it was essential that Cubipods – which typically weigh between 3 000 to 45 000 kg each – could be manufactured efficiently and in a cost-effective way.
Corredor and Menéndez developed a mould for Cubipods that is different from traditional concrete moulds as it releases vertically. This means that it requires less space, compared to other moulds that release laterally, making it ideal for producing blocks on site. Thanks to their compact size, several moulds can be used side-by-side, each producing up to three Cubipods per day. Production on site is a critical factor because a breakwater typically requires several thousand blocks and these can be costly to transport if manufactured elsewhere.
A civil engineer by training, Corredor has worked at SATO, a company specialised in sea and ports works, since 1998. As Head of Technical Office, he has directed a number of signficant maritime projects. Menéndez, who worked at SATO from 1964 until his retirement in 2014, was a constant presence onsite as workshop chief and foreman. Their invention, the result of combining Menéndez’s on-site knowledge with Corredor’s engineering expertise, has enabled the Cubipod to be commercialised by SATO which holds the patents for both the block and the mould. Corredor and Menéndez’s mould has been used to produce the blocks for harbour defences in Algeria, Denmark and Spain to date, with markets in Chile, Mexico and Morocco also being explored.
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