“Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.” Well that is quite a mouthful to start off with, I’d say. In simpler terms, “Where all else fails” or rather if all humans fail there is nature. Nature is not only incredibly beautiful it is also a huge inspiration. Faultless, it simply works.
“Life has evolved and learned what works and what is suitable for the planet. Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul. The core idea is that nature has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. After billions of years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival.” Biomimicry.org
If more people used nature as an inspiration, the world would be “crawling” with ideas and solutions to the problems that we face daily. AskNature, an initiative of the Biomimicry Institute that is built by and for the community, encourages inventors to ask nature for advice and to make this a part of their everyday inventing routine. It is a tried and tested solution as, ample inventors have used this initiative to make nature their inspiration and they created what I like to call, masterpieces, many are simple, but they are all groundbreaking. Some of these we have been using for all our lives and perhaps never realized that they were examples of Biomimicry. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Most people would not be able to live their typical everyday lives without energy. Electricity is what keeps us going, it is all around us. While we are in the throes of problems with fossil fuels, nature itself provides us with amazing examples of planet friendly, safer ways that we can generate energy.
With electricity we always have a whale of a time don’t we? (Insert groan here.) Whale Power Corporation have used whale’s fins as an inspiration to build their wind turbine blades, to create something that they call Tubercle Technology.
Tubercle Technology began when WhalePower’s President, Dr. Frank E. Fish solved one of Nature’s mysteries: how is it possible for humpback whales to be so astonishingly agile? The answer: those strange bumps on the leading edge of their flippers produce the “tubercle effect” which was first described by Dr. Fish. WhalePower adds precisely formed versions of those bumps to the leading edges of the rotors at the heart of almost any axial machine designed to work with fluids– air, water, steam or oil.
Their design is used on fans, pumps and compressors as well as turbines, and they are confident that the whale fin design will revolutionize many areas of engineering.
Scientists are continually striving for a better way to capture and use energy. An unlikely inspiration came from a kind of seaweed known as Bull Kelp. This seaweed is firmly anchored to the sea floor, and thanks to it’s buoyant bulbs, it sways with the waves and currents of the ocean. BioWAVE has harnessed this design in their revolutionary concept to harness hydraulic energy to convert to electricity. Thanks to the Bull Kelp, scientists have discovered that the strong anchor-like roots work effectively without being drilled deep into the ground. This keeps costs low as well as environmental damage low. The design has incorporated a swivel and pivot system to enable the structure to swivel with the current rather than resisting it – again copied from the movement of the Bull Kelp.
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