Biomimicry or Biomimetics: Best Innovation Inspiration from Nature

Biomimicry is an emerging field of study and research that inspires sustainable innovations. This pioneering method of imitating the principles of nature enlightens the sustainable solutions to solve global problems that humans are facing nowadays.

Till now the green innovations mimicking natural systems and methods focused on resource efficiency, energy-efficiency, considered the entire life cycle of products from resource collection to disposal, and recyclability. The most inspiring thing is bio mimicking innovations encourage generating the services that are critically needed for living rather than products.

It started the biomimicry voyage when Leonardo da Vinci tried to design an airplane imitating the way birds fly in 15 centuries. However, the first airplane took its first flight in 1903 that was invented by the Wright brothers by executing the knowledge of aerodynamics and gasoline engine.

Some milestones in the sustainable solutions from imitating natural processes are-

1. Calera: Cement and Freshwater from CO2 and Brines

Carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas is a great concern for its influence on global climate change. To curb CO2 Calera can be a global warming changemaker company as the technology that Calera aims to build and reduce industrial emissions of CO2. Maybe you are feeling excited to know how is that possible?

The technology will capture the pollutant CO2 and then convert it into stable solid bi-products as minerals or other useful materials. This technology can straightforwardly be embedded in power plants, chemical plants, and cement plants as well.

The root of inspiration for this technology is the natural chemical cycle that exists in the ocean and maintains a balance in the earth’s carbon cycle that eventually form carbonate deposits. It is the natural process occurring over geological time where CO2 absorbs into the ocean and transforms it into persistent minerals like limestone.

Calera also can privilege to convert CO2, SO2, fly ash, brines, and wastewater into clean flue gas, useful building materials, and freshwater. At present, Calera has started the demonstration plant at Moss Landing in California that can capture 30,000 tons of CO2 per year equal to 10-megawatt of the natural gas power plant. Moreover, this farm claimed this unit can be lengthened to grab flue gas from a 100-megawatt output and per year can transform the CO2 into more than 550,000 tons of building materials.

Another proposed project named Calera Yallourn in the Latrobe Valley in the state of Victoria, Australia per year might capture more than 300,000 tons of CO2 and will generate 1 million tons of building materials. Additionally, it can produce two million gallons of freshwater per day. To capture CO2 alkalinity may come from sub-surface brines and fly ash will be supplied from the nearby power plant.

The green technology by Calera appealed to use seawater or other water resources to scrub CO2 from flue gas to react and convert it into carbonic acid. In further carbonate ions react with calcium and magnesium ions and form calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate as a solid precipitate. Another output the water is demineralized of about 80 percent of its original calcium and magnesium and can be filtered via reverse osmosis desalination process converting to drinking water quality.

Constanz narrated that this process is less costly and more effective than any seawater desalination process as it does not require any intake structure. The reduced amount of calcium and magnesium makes the process more convenient to generate drinkable freshwater.

2. Eastgate Building, Harare: Inspired by Termite Mounds

A sustainable building constructed from biomimicking the termite mounds self-cooling system; that building is Eastgate building established in Harare Zimbabwe designed by architect Mick Pearce and it is considered as an architectural wonder. In the building system, there is no conventional air-conditioning or artificial heating support, as an alternative, it applied the self-cooling insights from the mounds of African termites.

In terms of the climate of Harare, the buildings need to be supported with a cooling system all year round. But it demands a long-term cost of purchasing materials, installations, and maintenance. However, the Eastgate shopping center and office building exploit the passive, self-regulating, and energy-efficient mechanisms rather than the conventional fuel-based air conditioning system. Passive cooling has a high thermal capacity that stores heat in the daytime and releases it at night as temperature fall. The system is facilitated by fans that operate on a rotation timed enhancing heat storage during daytime and release at night. The warm indoor air vented via chimneys is also assisted by fans.

In comparison with a building of the same size, Eastgate uses less than 90% energy and saved around 3.5 million dollars alone as there was no separate investment on the air-conditioning system.

3. GreenShield: Water repellency of fabrics

GreenShield, an innovation inspired by the microscopic roughness of lotus leaves that inhibits leaves from getting wet. It is a nano-particle-based innovation that diminishes environmental and health impacts generally by lowering the use of fluorochemicals.

We all know that fluorochemicals are polymer-based chemicals that are used to coated features to protect these from stains. The fabric of GreenShield is not only water repellent but also oil and stain repellent. To produce this fabric amorphous silica (also used in toothpaste and creams) nanoparticles are used that act as permanent adhere to the fabric and prevent the penetration of droplets.

4. The Shinkansen Bullet Train: Mimicking the Kingfisher

One of the major disadvantages of fast trains is the noise generated from the changes in air pressure. However, in search of the solution to this big problem, inspired by nature the country Japan launched Shinkansen Bullet Train.

Mimicking the feature of the kingfisher, the front-end of the train was designed by following its beak. That resulted in a quieter and faster train consuming 15% less energy consumption and 10% faster than before.

5. Beetles Collecting Water

One of the fascinating characteristics of the African Namib Desert Beetle is that collects water in the bumps on its shell by condensing fog into water droplets. To survive in the arid climatic condition Namib Desert beetle yields water from thin air. This long-legged, blueberry-size insect places its body into the wind and lets the fog droplets accumulate and drain to its wing and then into its mouth.

This amazing feature of this tinny creature can solve the water crisis in the arid region and scientists have prioritized learning the insect’s secret to providing clean water in water scarcity areas. And, scientists tried to discover the way an insect’s surface transport the water droplets to roll down to its body and its mouth. They discover that the beetles’ bumpy surfaces act as fog magnets and a 1-millimeter lumps sphere on the surface can collect droplets 2.5 times more efficiently than a moth of same size, surface area.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers simulated this structure with glass and plastic. They succeed to collect minute amounts of water like the beetle’s back. This innovation not only inspired to harvest water from fogs but also directed to other applications like grounding cooling devices or in cleaning up toxic spills.

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Etamoni Chakma

Hi, I'm Etamoni Chakma, an environmental science professional and top-rated academic writer on Upwork. With my education and research experience, I aim to create informative and inspiring content advocating for environmental protection. My passion is to educate and encourage people to take action for the betterment of our planet.

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