What is BioMimicry? Biomimicry The practice of developing sustainable human technologies inspired by nature. Sometimes called Biomimetics or Bionics, its basically biologically inspired engineering.Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress aboveall masters, are laboring in vain. - Leonardo Da Vinci
BI-O-MIM-IC-RY(From the Greek bios, life, and mimesis, imitation) Nature as model. Biomimicry is a new science that studies Nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems. Nature as measure. Biomimicry uses an ecological standard to judge “rightness” of our innovations. Nature as mentor. Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing Nature.
Why BioMimicry The core idea is that Nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with: energy, food production, climate control, non-toxic chemistry, transportation, packaging, and a whole lot more.
Architecture: Learning from termites how to create sustainable buildings:Passive Climate Control in the Eastport Building, Harare Zimbabwe
•We generally think of termites as destroying buildings,not helping them.•But the Eastgate Building, an office complex in HarareZimbabwe, has an air conditioning system modeled on theself-cooling mounds of termites that maintain thetemperature inside their nest within one degree, day andnight while the temperatures outside swing from 420 C to30 C.•The operation of the buildings represent 40% of all theenergy used by humanity, so learning how to design themto be more sustainable is vitally important.• Eastgate uses 90% less energy for ventilation thanconventional buildings its size and has already saved thebuilding owners over $3.5 million dollars in air conditioning
Transportation: How doesNature travel quickly andsmoothly?The Shinkansen BulletTrain in Japan
The Shinkkansen bullet Train of West Japan Railway Company is the fastest train in the world, traveling 200miles per hour. The problem? Noise. Air pressure changes produced large thunder claps every time the train emerged from a tunnel, causing residents ¼ mile away to complain. Eiji Nakatsu, the train’s chief engineer and an avid bird watcher, asked himself “ Is there something in Nature that travels quickly and smoothly between two very different mediums?” Modeling the front end of the train after the beak of the kingfisher, which dives from the air into bodies of
Tsunami waves dozens of feet high when the reach the shore may be only tens of centimeters high as they travel through the deep ocean. In order to reliably detect them and warn people before they reach the land, sensitive pressure sensors must be located underneath the passing waves in waters as deep as 6000 meters. The data must then be transmitted up to a buoy at the oceans surface, where it is relayed to a satellite for distribution to an early warning center. Transmitting data through miles of water has proven difficult. Sound waves reverberate and destructively interfere with one another as they travel, compromising the accuracy of information. Unless you are a dolphin. Dolphins are able to recognize the calls of specific individuals (signature whistles) up to 25 kilometers away. By employing several frequencies in each transmission, dolphins have found a way to cope with the sound scattering behavior of their high frequency, rapid transmission, and still get their message reliably heard. Emulating dolphin’s unique frequency-modulating acoustics, a company called EvoLogics has developed a high-performance underwater modem for data transmission, which is currently employed in the tsunami early warning system throughout the Indian Ocean.
Studying the way human lungs work is inspiring new technologies that remove carbon dioxide from sources like flue stacks, preventing this greenhouse gas from reaching our atmosphere and warming the planet. Our lungs have 3 major adaptations which give them their carbon dioxide removal effectiveness: A super thin membrane, allowing CO2travel across and out An enormous surface area (laid out it would be 70 times your body surface area) Specialized chemical translators (carbon anhydrase) which allows CO2 to be removed from our bloodstream thousands of times faster than possible without it. In tests by a company called Carbozyme Inc., human- made filters inspired by the way our lungs work removed over 90% of the CO2 traveling through flue stacks. Other technologies based on the carbonic anhydrase enzyme found in animals such as mollusks have successfully transformed CO2 into limestone, which can
Gecko TapeEver wanted to walk up walls or across ceilings? Gecko Tape may be theway to do it. The tape is a material covered with nanoscopic hairs thatmimic those found on the feet of gecko lizards. These millions of tiny,flexible hairs exert van der Waals forces that provide a powerful adhesiveeffect. Applications include underwater and space station uses, soresearchers from a number of institutions are working hard. They wontbe mass producing gecko tape sneakers and gloves any time soon, soSpiderman wannabes will have to wait awhile longer, while hoping otherbiomimetic researchers get around to inventing the necessary web-throwers.Lotus Effect HydrophobiaThey call it "superhydrophobicity," but its really a biomimetic applicationof what is known as the Lotus Effect. The surface of lotus leaves arebumpy, and this causes water to bead as well as to pick up surfacecontaminates in the process. The water rolls off, taking the contaminateswith it. Researchers have developed ways to chemically treat the surfaceof plastics and metal to evoke the same effect. Applications are nearlyendless, and not just making windshield wipers and car wax jobs
Self-Healing PlasticsConsider the bodys power to heal itself of scrapes and cuts. Thevalue of the same sort of process in light polymer composites thatcan be used to produce things like aircraft fuselage becomesobvious. The new composite materials being developed are calledself-healing plastics. They are made from hollow fibers filled withepoxy resin that is released if the fibers suffer serious stresses andcracks. This creates a scab nearly as strong as the originalmaterial. Such self-healing materials could be used to makeplanes, cars and even spacecraft that will be lighter, more fuelefficient, and safer.Artificial PhotosynthesisWe all learn about photosynthesis in school, the way that greenplants use chlorophyll to convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxideinto carbohydrates and oxygen. The quest to reproduce theprocess technologically is called Artificial Photosynthesis, and isenvisioned as a means of using sunlight to split water intohydrogen and oxygen for use as a clean fuel for vehicles as well asa way to use excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The
BioMimicry 3.8: A Natural Progression for anEvolutionary LeapAs practicing biomimics, we know that a sustainable world, 3.8 billionyears in the making, already exists. For 14 years, The Biomimicry Guildand The Biomimicry Institute have been re-introducing the natural worldto the innovators and educators who are re-imagining ours. With over 250 clients, we’ve helped redesign sneakers, carpets,furniture, manufacturing processes, airplanes, and even entire cities, allin nature’s sustainable image. We’ve reached millions through talks andtrained hundreds who now practice biomimicry in their professions.We’ve created the world’s first online library of nature’s solutions, aptlynamed AskNature. We’ve mobilized a network of K-12 teachers anduniversity professors to teach biomimicry to the next generation. It’sbeen a fabulous ride.
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