A Novel Method of Soil Erosion Prevention

by Anika Mathur

A few words from the participant(s)

What steps did you take to develop your project?

In my first iteration (Proof of Concept), I sought to create and test designs that allowed an intermediate amount of water infiltration and one that was easy to replicate on a large scale. I chose three origami designs to test from in order to find a final pattern for building the prototype. I landed on the Yoshimura origami pattern, and I used it to construct and test two versions of prototypes in an authentic environment. The first version was constructed from wood and had many large, flat surfaces. It was not successful, since my results showed that the prototype collected more water runoff than control tests, something that was not expected to happen. However, the final prototype was successful in reducing excess water runoff of topsoil by half, since the prototype’s collected runoff water was on average than 50 percent less than that of the control test’s collected runoff water. Therefore, my prototype was successful in reducing water erosion and in achieving the engineering goal.

Why are you competing?

My prototype is a uniquely engineered solution to a real world and unfortunately common problem. It can protect massive amounts of topsoil from eroding into lakes and rivers, and my prototype can inhibit topsoil erosion that prevents future vegetation from growing. My device has proved its function on a small scale, but it can handle far greater expanses, from small backyards, to acres of grassland, to even the great Amazon Basin. Because it is made of 3D printed material, this is possible. My prototype can be identically replicated to cover any expanse of any size. Also, the prototype’s rapid assembly time is a great benefit in helping to reduce water erosion of large expanses in a quicker amount of time. My device is also sustainable and environmentally friendly. The material it is made from, PLA plastic, is a bioplastic derived from corn starch and other carbohydrates, which means that it is biodegradable and innocuous to the environment.