Biomimicry

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 5:30 PM


What is it? The Biomimicry Institute describes this principle as, “an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.” (biomimicry.org)

Nature is the original, and has already solved many of our current dilemmas in regard to sustainability. Using nature’s own systems and design in business can solve problems that humans do not conceptualize. We need to ask ourselves how nature would make and/or use materials. When materials are no longer needed, they can be broken down to fuel another system, or emulating nature’s own processes with sustainable materials.

A real-world example is MIT’s “artificial leaf”:


This “leaf”, “made of silicon, electronics, and various catalysts that spur chemical reactions within the device, the artificial leaf uses sunlight to break water into hydrogen and oxygen which can then be used to create electricity in a separate fuel cell. Placed in a gallon of water and left in the sun, these artificial leaves could provide a home in the developing world with basic electricity for a day…”

Other examples include
  • Velcro, inspired by a Swiss engineer whose dog was covered in burdock burrs
  • A shark-skin inspired material designed to reduce drag and conserve energy for boats, airplanes, windmills, and more
  • Dew Bank Bottle which collects morning dew, inspired by the Namibian Beetle which catches water droplets by raising it’s back as fog rolls over and collects into chutes toward it’s mouth


Want to continue learning more about Biomimicry?

Watch the following TED talk by Jane Benyus, conservationist aiming to inspire inventors, engineers, businesses with biomimicry
http://www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_biomimicry_in_action?language=en

Read about the Biomimicry Institute's own initiative: www.asknature.org

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