Urban areas
Water Absorbing Geocomposites – Technologies Supporting the Vegetation Foto: Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences

Water Absorbing Geocomposites – Technologies Supporting the Vegetation

Honourable mention in the Adapterra Awards 2019

Researchers had been interested in water regulation for plant growth for many years. Because of small retention capacity of soil, water needed by plants is quickly lost. This may be improved by water absorbing geocomposites that capture rainwater and store it in form of gel. Plants can then use it as their water source whenever they need. Thanks to this support, the plants grow better and stronger and are more resilient towards changes in their environment, especially in urban areas.

The Adaptation Journey

The positive impact
Objective of the project was to create technical possibilities to permanently retain rainwater in soil and to make it available for plants for a long, predictable time. Another goal was to increase biomass of plants and make the plants more resistant and adaptable in local conditions, for example during droughts.
How does it work?
These superabsorbents are polymers of excellent absorption properties. 1 gramme of this substance may retain even up to 300 gramme of water. Thanks to hydrotropism plant roots are able to quickly find locations with higher concentration of water. They grow through the textile to the inside of the geocomposite and use suction power to absorb up to 95 percentage of the collected water. The internal structure provides extra space necessary for the proper functioning of the superabsorbent thanks to what the absorbent can retain water efficiently.

During rainfall or irrigation, the supply of water inside the geocomposite is replenished so that the plants can start using it again. The retained water is then constantly available for plants, so that they can absorb it when it's needed, in such amounts as are necessary for development. This allows plants to develop more quickly and to maintain a better condition. The root systems of plants supported by geocomposite and growing in optimal water conditions, are better developed, which, in turn, reinforces the soil. This is vital for protecting slopes against erosion. The parts of plants above ground grow bigger, they are more resistant to water deficits in the soil and they root better after replanting.
Original state
Water originating from precipitation or irrigation is partly retained in soil but due to low retention capacity, most of it penetrates deep into the ground or evaporates and is no longer available for plants.
Operation and maintenance
There are no future costs.

The project is yet in implementation phase. Products based on the created technology are on the market now under brand Hydrobox. A couple of variations in shape and size needed to be developed to fit different demands.
Why was the measure chosen?
This solution reduces water consumption for plants cultivation up to 50 percentage by increasing retention capacity of the soil. Water absorbing geocomposite is an innovative solution that helps to solve problems with urban greenery and helps plants to adapt to climate changes in cities.
Obstacles and challenges
The biggest challenge was to design and create new solution for retaining water in soil. The process took 2-3 years.
How much did it cost?
Overall costs are around 1.7 million EUR. Investment life expectancy is 3 years. Savings are in up to 50 percentage of water consumption.

Zieleń miejska Use of rainwater Nedostatek vody a sucho 

Wrocław, Poland
Krzysztof Lejcuś and others
Krzysztof Lejcuś
Krzysztof Lejcuś

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