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Mark Lyttleton: Introducing CCell



Mark Lyttleton

Mark Lyttleton is a professional business mentor, speaker and angel investor with a particular focus on working with companies created to impart a positive planetary impact. He has invested in numerous start-ups with an emphasis on sustainability, including OHM Energie and Maanch, among others. This article will look at CCell, an organisation that is also backed by Mark Lyttleton, which was created with the mission of combatting coastal erosion and restoring sustainable balance to coastal environments.

CCell’s CEO, Will Bateman, graduated from Imperial College with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, subsequently earning a PhD in 3D simulation of extreme ocean waves. After working for Lloyds Register, RMS and General Dynamics in the numerical modelling of natural and mechanical systems, he began working on the wave paddle and other innovations that are fundamental to the technologies that now form CCell.

Operating with the ethos that everything can be improved, not least coastal protection interventions that have not evolved in centuries (until now), CCell has developed artificial reefs that mimic natural reefs, serving as a barrier to erosion. CCell reefs reduce the intensity of large waves, causing them to break out at sea rather than at the shoreline where they can cause coastal erosion.

CCell reefs are porous structures. They reduce wave energy by creating turbulence as the wave passes through. With a CCell reef, the power of large waves is diminished, while smaller waves pass through unaffected. Although large waves can cause damage, smaller waves have a positive effect on the coastline, helping to build sand back up on the beach.

The backbone of a CCell reef is composed of steel, which is used to define its initial shape. Around this, calcareous rock is grown, providing the perfect substrate for coral and plants to attach themselves and flourish, with this important marine life eventually becoming an integral part of the overall structure. This approach enables CCell to limit the amount of material it introduces into the world’s oceans.

CCell relies on seawater electrolysis to form rock on its reefs, passing a safe, low-voltage current between a small metal anode and the steel structure. Oxygen, which is beneficial for marine life, is produced at the anode. Meanwhile, at the main structure the pH rises, encouraging precipitation of dissolved salts onto the structure. Rock composed mainly of Aragonite and Brucite starts to form, growing at approximately 18mm annually and automatically healing any areas that sustain damage.

CCell reefs are constructed in a modular design for ease of transport and installation, with units typically measuring 2.5 meters long and 2 meters high. These units are stackable to accommodate to site bathymetry.

For many communities globally, tourism serves as a primary source of income. By protecting ocean reefs, CCell not only protects the future of marine environments but also the livelihoods and homes of coastal communities, providing long-term security against coastal erosion and severe climate events, returning sand to the beaches and ultimately boosting tourism. This helps local small businesses to thrive, as well as creating knock-on benefits for local and national economies.