Manufacturing Nature

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 9:17 AM


For years scientists and engineers have been studying "natures materials" and trying to replicate them. An example of this is the silk web created by a spider. When comparing gram to gram, a spiders web is 5 times stronger than steel! Can you imagine a building made up from a spider web? Other than you sticking to the floor and waiting a LONG time for the elevator, that would be amazing. The only problem so far with replicating natures building tools is that scientists haven't found a way to do it.


While some processes have tried to replicate nature, such as the industrial ceramics man has created to copy the inside coating on an abalone shell, nothing has come close or used an environmental friendly way of producing it. However, these road blocks aren't stopping engineers and biologists from continually looking into ways they can replicate nature in order to have a positive effect on the environment.

One of these ways is to build roofs in a style that replicates a forest canopy which would protect against soil erosion by, according to an article on www.newsweek.com, "dissipating the energy of monsoon rains and by creating wind currents that essentially push the rain back up into the atmosphere."

While this is only being experimented with for the time being, the possibilities are very real that we could see the evolution in manufacturing from large plants who create CO2 gasses and other harmful emissions, to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.

I think that by studying the way birds build nests using natural materials is fascinating. I think by studying the woven patterns and the way birds put together a strong nest is something we can learn from in terms of creating structurally sound buildings with less harmful materials.

What kinds of products would you like to see come out that replicate nature? What animals do you think are the best candidates to study in order to replicate? (not animal testing, just observational study of course.)

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