David Albrecht, Caleb Luke Frank, Adin Allen Stoller


Presentation: 10:45-12:00, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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Funded by NOAA and in collaboration with the Baruch Marine Field Institute, this project addresses the environmental impact of non-biodegradable plastics in coastal South Carolina. It explores the mechanical and economic viability of natural materials like coir, jute, and hemp to replace plastics in critical coastal sectors that experience harsh environmental conditions. The first class of products studied was natural fiber geotextiles due to their current prominence in coastal environments. Before studying the impacts of weathering on mechanical properties, the virgin, unweathered properties must be measured and the impact of water absorption on the mechanical properties must be understood. An Instron 3365 in the UD BAMS laboratory was utilized to perform tensile testing on virgin samples according to ASTM 6818 to assess key properties including strain, Young's modulus, and tensile strength, to determine how these materials will initially behave in harsh coastal environments. Additionally, qualitative observations of the materials’ mechanical response and failure were recorded to discuss and assess material viability with environmental engineering stakeholders in South Carolina. In conjunction with this testing, samples with different relative water absorption levels were tested to understand the impact of water content on the materials’ mechanical properties. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine the effects of water content on mechanical properties. Future studies will examine how coastal weathering affects mechanical, chemical, and structural properties of these materials to qualify them for use in coastal sectors. This project, merging traditional ecological knowledge and modern engineering techniques, underscores the potential for a significant paradigm shift towards sustainable material usage in coastal ecosystems, aligning with broader objectives of environmental stewardship and culturalpreservation.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project - EGR 398 03

Primary Advisor

Robert L. Lowe, Molly Katherine Savage, Scott J. Schneider

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Stander Symposium, School of Engineering

Institutional Learning Goals

Practical Wisdom; Scholarship

From Blue-Gray to Blue-Green: Facilitating the Transition to Non-Plastic, Natural Material Use within the Coastal Zone Economy