I was cruising through the internet, deep in my daily surf for cool new things, when I came across an interesting list. The list was cool ways that bio-mimicry has been applied in science and modern technologies. Bio-mimicry (try saying it five times fast) is imitating life or, essentially, copying designs from nature. I have taken the ones that apply to energy and posted them below. Read through them they are pretty cool. If you want to see more cool designs that are copied from nature go to the site, check out the rest of the list here!
Passive Cooling-The Eastgate Centre building was designed to mimic the way that tower-building termites in Africa construct their mounds to maintain a constant temperature. The insects do this by constantly opening and closing vents throughout the mound to manage convection currents of air (cooler air is drawn in from open lower sections while hot air escapes through chimneys). The building uses similar design and air circulation while consuming less than 10% of the energy used in similar sized buildings.
Whalepower Wind Turbine- Inspired by the flippers humpback whales use to enable their surprising agility in the water, WhalePower has developed turbine blades with bumps called tubercles that promise greater efficiency. Compared to smooth surface fins, the bumpy humpback ones have 32% less drag and an 8% increased lift in their movement through air or water. Using such blades to catch the wind as communities and nations switch to renewable sources could provide a 20% increase in efficiency.
Self-Healing Plastics– Consider the body’s power to heal itself of scrapes and cuts. New composite materials being developed are called self-healing plastics. They are made from hollow fibers filled with epoxy resin that is released if the fibers suffer serious stresses and cracks. This creates a ‘scab’ nearly as strong as the original material. Such self-healing materials could be used to make planes, cars and even spacecraft that will be lighter, more fuel efficient, and safer.
The Golden Streamlining Principle– PAX Scientific has been developing air and fluid movement technologies based on recurring natural designs (Fibonacci sequence, logarithmic spirals, the Golden Ratio). These shapes align with the observation that the path of least resistance isn’t a straight line. Put all this together and you get the “Streamlining Principle,” being applied to fans on motors, compressors and pumps of all sizes and in all applications. This could save at least 15% of all the electricity consumed in the US.
Bionic Car– Daimler-Chrysler has developed a new concept car from Mercedes-Benz based on the shape of an odd tropical fish – the Bionic Car. Using the shape of the tropical boxfish, designers achieved an aerodynamic ideal that boasts 20% less fuel consumption and as much as an 80% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions. The diesel-powered compact will get about 70 miles per gallon, and can run just fine on biodiesel fuel.
So, what did I learn? The earth is no stranger to efficiency! Evolution has honed creatures and environments, down to the tiniest structures and patterns, to use energy practically and efficiently…and scientists and engineers have finally noticed! Hooray! Plus, I wouldn’t mind having a bionic car!