It’s an attention-grabbing headline: The notion that furniture mad by a global manufacturer like Ikea could use plastic that’s “made of air pollution.” But, it’s not science fiction. I’ve talked about many ways we can look to nature, which uses carbon as a feedstock, to help reverse climate change. This Design + Innovation article details how the California-based Newlight Technologies is using carbon and methane to make it’s AirCarbon plastic.
Recent work by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University shows that people, especially children, are exposed on a daily basis to dust laden with a range of commercial chemicals with toxicity to immune, digestive, developmental, and endocrine systems, according to this Eureka Alert article. Biomimicry offers innovative, life-friendly ways of achieving the functions served by these commercial chemicals in common household products, appliances, and furniture.
Salps are gelatinous zooplankton that sometimes form large swarms. Not only do their body structures suggest interesting design ideas for gelatinous products, and provide new examples for swarm theory, but their role in carbon sequestration is more substantial than realized, according to this Nippon Foundation article. Among the crucial carbon farming solutions currently being investigated, salp swarms should be included.
Healthy ecosystems’ role in combatting climate change
This essay by Justin Adams, of The Nature Conservancy, touches on some key points about the role healthy ecosystems play in climate change. He also brings up “capitalizing on co-benefits” as a selling point for conservations, which outlines the same logic that drives our biomimicry work in Ecological Performance Standards.
Looking to insect societies to increase infrastructure efficiencies
Modern infrastructures, such as power grids, are becoming decentralized and self-organized. For example, more and more houses are equipped with solar panels, and heating systems self-adjust to local conditions. In insect societies, resilience emerges as a result of the collective behaviors of individuals. according to this Journal of Royal Society Interface article. Transportation networks, supply chains, and communication networks can benefit from studying how insects deal with disaster and disruption.
It takes a bacterial village. Scientists are increasingly aware of the extent of microbial communities on, in, and around us, and the critical role they play in health and well being. New computer models show how bacterial communities in the oceans manage nutrient cycles, according to this Science Daily article. Rather than trying to rid them from the world, bacterial communities are increasingly called upon to help us manage our vital resources.
Since the start of The Biomimicry Center in 2015, Biomimicry 3.8 has worked in partnership with Arizona State University to offer two graduate-level programs devoted to the practice of biomimicry. There are currently more than 200 students enrolled in the programs through ASU Online. Ready to join? Both the Master’s of Science in Biomimicry and the Graduate Certificate have application deadlines approaching: November 1 is the application deadline for Spring 2017.
High-energy radiation, such as x-rays, provide us a valuable tool in medical and research applications, but it comes with a risk of damaging DNA. Scientists at the University of Tokyo have discovered a protein employed by the famously tough tardigrade that could help eliminate that risk, according to this Nature Communication abstract. Such discoveries might lead to strategies that would allow us to maximize the value of radiation-based tools while reducing their risks.
Teams push innovation through Living Product Challenge
We’ve been challenging teams of innovators to create biomimicry-inspired products through the Biomimicry Institute’s Global Design Challenge and it never ceases to amaze what teams come up with using innovation inspired by nature. Recently, the challenge awarded several Living Product prizes for the food system innovation challenge. It was an ultra-inspiring set of teams. You can see all the innovations in this GreenBiz article.
Forestry management tries to imitate nature. For example, setting fires to help mitigate potentially uncontrollable forest fires. Predators such as wolves usually take down the weakest in a herd, whereas, human hunters often target the largest (trophy hunting) or entire packs (predator control), according to this David Suziki Foundation article. If we want to use biomimicry to control a species, we should study the behavior of natural predators and their role in keeping a habitat healthy.
The practice of biomimicry includes three interconnected but unique realms, what we like to call the essential elements of biomimicry: Ethos, emulate, and (re)connect. Each has an important function, but in this post about our recent Discover Nature’s Genius Immersion Workshop, we examine why the human-nature (re)connection piece is so important, and why experiencing the fascinating ecosystems of Australia can leave such a profound impact.
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.