Improving the injection molding process using biomimicry
Looking to improve their injection molding process, HARBEC engineers were inspired by natural models and were able to shorten the cooling time. Mimicking dicot leaf vein systems in their mold, HARBEC engineers successfully improved cooling times and energy consumption compared to current industry standards, according to this Terrapin report. The biomimicry design methodology led the team down new avenues of thinking and resulted in a implementable and significant result.
Shaping a sustainable future through living materials
The U.S. Department of Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is taking a serious look at how looking to nature–and gaining inspiration from all its living materials–can help shape a sustainable future through living building materials. This Green Building Elements article details a new Engineered Living Materials (ELM) program launched by the agency to create an entirely new set of construction materials. It’s exciting to see all that’s already in the pipeline, and all the planned work ready to be done.
Trees can teach us how to make smart materials that respond appropriately to environmental cues. According to this Science Daily article, scientists in Germany discovered that beech and maple trees trigger one type of protective scenario when their shoots are nibbled by deer versus when they are damaged by inanimate physical forces.
Initiative helps to harness power of ecosystem services
Native ecosystems provide crucial “services” that help create conditions conducive to life. They do things like clean air, purify water, and store carbon. With that in mind, Biomimicry Chicago is launching a new initiative this fall in hopes of creating a “radical shift” in how the city of Chicago builds. The Prairie Project, outlined in this post, aims to bring diverse, multidisciplinary teams together to help change the way cities are build. It’s exciting because native ecosystems, thanks to all the services they provide, are inherently sustainable and regenerative.
Biomimicry’s place in shaping the sustainable cities of the future is showing up in a “slew” of places, according to this article from The Atlantic’s CityLab. Among several other great examples, the article explores Biomimicry 3.8’s work to mimic native ecosystems in Lavasa, India, to help stop erosion at a new development. B3.8’s (and Synapse contributor) Erin Rovalo notes that looking to nature for design and innovation inspiration may represent the “pinnacle of what sustainable design can be.”
How nature achieves energy efficient water desalination without waste
Water desalination processes are becoming controversial due to their high-energy use and the resulting highly concentrated brine waste. For millions of years, microorganisms have filtered salt from water. This comprehensive overview of biodesalination describes the many desalination mechanisms in nature. We stand on the edge of developing new technologies that mimic the mechanisms of living organisms to reduce the costs, increase the efficiency, and make desalination a less harmful process.
How nature reduces toxin side effects of chemicals
Organisms produce toxins only when toxicity is the desired “product” function, but their production and ultimate fate are life-friendly. By contrast, too often, commercial chemicals have toxic side effects and their production and ultimate fate can have environmental and public health concerns, according to this Science Direct article. As we learn more about nature’s toxins, we improve our ability to design commercial chemicals that avoid unintentional toxic characteristics.
Researchers expand understanding of geckos’ adhesion super powers
Two major breakthroughs are coming. Our understanding of how adhesive strategies have evolved in nature, and more importantly, understanding the gap between how geckos do it and how to create synthetic materials that adhere. The quest for gecko-inspired adhesives exemplifies the search for inspiration from nature that can lead to products and processes that fit with how the world operates. This Journal of Experimental Biology article discusses the questions spurred 15 years ago about how to emulate the adhesion abilities of the gecko. Self-cleaning, reliability, reusability, and functionality on wet and rough surfaces remain elusive, but we are getting closer.
Cybersecurity software performs like human immune system
How can companies combat cybersecurity threats get more and more advanced each day? Turn to one of nature’s most advance systems, the human immune system. That’s what the UK-based Darktrace did with its immunity approach system, which according to this Fast Co. article, which trains itself to find abnormalities rather than recognize malware.
The snout of the star-nosed mole is made of 22 tentacle-like rays and contains about 30,000 dome-shaped structures that contain nerve endings allowing this functionally blind animal sees through touch, according to AskNature.org. They can even smell underwater by blowing air bubbles onto objects and then sticking their noses in them. Investigating the star-nosed mole could result in new technologies in robotics and sensors.
The ‘hairy’ leaves of aquatic ferns have helped scientists discover a way to create a fur-like substance that can pull oil out of water. The ‘nanofur’ that mimics the leaves’ form sucks up oil while repelling water, according to this Science Mag article. The scientists are continuing to study the shape of the hairs to refine the nanofur for maximum absorption.
Green infrastructure provide balance for city hardscapes
Green infrastructure is getting more and more attention. This Green Infrastructure article is referencing a 2016 paper that studies the impact of having trees in bioswales and how they can change the water budget for a city, as well as reduce the heat island effect. This type of research will prove its worth as more designers are called upon to counterbalance the effects of city hardscapes.