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BIOMIMICRYNature as Model, Measure, and Mentor
*These are diatoms, single celled creatures that live in water or underwater and do photosynthesis. They have glassy shells called frustules of very intricate construction. Each species has a different pattern of frustule. The shells are made by precipitation of silicate on to a template. This process is being investigated for a biomimietic method of making intricate, microscopic silicon structures for electronics.
BI-O-MIM-IC-RY(From the Greek bios, life, and mimesis, imitation)Nature as model. Biomimicry is a new science that studies Natures 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.
*Nature as model: example: a solar cell inspired by a leaf.Nature as measure: After 3.4 billion years of evolution, nature has learned: what works. What is appropriate. What lasts.Nature as mentor: It introduces an era based not on what we can extract from the natural world, but what we can learn from it.
Energy Efficiency: Learning from Nature how to create flow without friction.
PAX Fans and Impellers
Design: How does Nature attach and detach?
*Stand quietly just about anywhere and you will hear a fan running in the computer you are using, in the air conditioning of the building you are in, and throughout the water, air, and electrical systems upon which the city around you depends. Fans and other rotational devices are a major part of the human built environment, and a major component of our total energy usage. Although weve been building such devices in one form or another since at least 100 B.C., weve never built them like Nature does until now.Naturally flowing fluids, gases, and heat follow a common geometric pattern that differs in shape from conventional human-made rotors.Nature moves water and air using a logarithmic or exponentially growing spiral, as commonly seen in seashells.This pattern shows up everywhere in \nature.Inspired by the way Nature moves water and air, PAX \Scientific, INC. applied this fundamental geometry to the shape of human-=made rotary devices for the first time, in fans, mixers, propellers, turbines and pumps. Depending on application, the resulting designs reduce energy usage by a staggering 10-85% over conventional systems and noise by up to 75%.
Toxics: Learning from plants how to clean without cleaners: The Lotus Effect
*Ask anyone how leaves keep water from sticking to them, and theyll almost certainly say, Because they are so smooth. Yet one of the most water repellent leaves in the world, that of the Lotus, isnt smooth at all.The many crevices of its microscopically rough leaf surface trap a maze of air upon which water droplets float, so that the slightest breeze or tilt in the leaf causes balls of water to roll cleanly off, taking atached dirt particles with them.Now, microscopically rough surface additives have been introduced into a new genertion of paint. Glass, and fabric finishes, greatly reducing the need for chemcial or laborious cleaning. For example, GreenShield, a fabric finish made by G3i based on the lotus effect, achieves the same water and stain repellency as converntional fabric finishes while using 8 times less harmful fluorinated chemicals.
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 Harare Zimbabwe, has an air conditioning system modeled on the self-cooling mounds of termites that maintain the temperature inside their nest within one degree, day and night while the temperatures outside swing from 420 C to 30 C.The operation of the buildings represent 40% of all the energy used by humanity, so learning how to design them to be more sustainable is vitally important.Eastgate uses 90% less energy for ventilation than conventional buildings its size and has already saved the building owners over $3.5 million dollars in air conditioning costs.
Transportation: How does Nature travel quickly and smoothly?
The Shinkansen Bullet Train 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 mile away to complain.Eiji Nakatsu, the trains 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 water with very little splash to catch fish, resulted in a quieter train and 15% less energy use, even while the train travels 10% faster.
Medicine: Learning from Chimpanzees how to heal ourselves
* of all modern medicines are derived directly from plants, and there are hundreds of thousands of other plant species yet to be examined, each with unique chemical compounds that could prove of medicinal value.It could take millions of years, literally, to sort through this enormous variety of plants and plant compounds to find ones with any medicinal value. Fortunalty, researchers have discovered that this is what chimpanzees have already done,over millions of years of evolutionary time.By observing how chimps and other species cope with illness, researchers have auired leads onplants with promising medical applications to human health.Trees from the Vernonia genus, for example, which chimps regularly seek out when ill, have been found to contain chemical compounds that show promise in treating parasites such as pinworm, hookworm, and giardia in humans.
Human Safety: Learning from Dolphins how to warn people about Tsunamis
*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 dolphins 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.
Climate Change: Learning from human lungs how to sequester carbon
*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 be stored or used as a building supply.
Agriculture: Learning from prairies how to grow food sustainably
*Take a look at any natural ecosystem, such as a prairie, and you will see a remarkable system of food production:productiveresilientself-enrichingand ultimately sustainableThe modern agricultural practices of humankind are also enormously productive, but only in the short term.The irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticide inputs upon which modern food crops depend both deleplet and pollute increasingly rare water and soil resources.The Land Institute in Kansas has been working successfully to revolutionize the conceptual foundations of modern agriculture by using natural prairies as a model.They have been demonstrating that using deep-rooted plants which survive from year to year (perennials) in agricultural systems which mimic stable natural ecosystems can produce equivalent yields of grain and maintain and even improve the water and soil resources upon which all future agriculture depends.
The Biomimicry Guilds Functional TaxonomyFunction is the pivot between lifes wisdom and what we are trying to achieve intentionally. What function do you want your design to perform? How does life perform that function?
The Biomimicry Guild has produced an organized collection of functions that covers everything that life does and that we might want a design to do.
The functions are grouped by similarity so its calle