It is increasingly common to hear new alternative development models that seek to solve current problems in a more respectful and efficient way. The principle of biomimicry is one of them. It basically consists of using nature as a model , measure and mentor, through observation and learning of what has been polishing for years and years through evolution and adaptation.
If you want to know what biomimicry is and examples of it, keep reading because in this AgroCorrn article we explain what the definition of biomimicry is and what its principles are. To find out what is taking place around the world, we will share some examples of biomimicry so that you understand some advances that this line of thought offers.
- What is biomimicry
- Learning from termite mounds
- Shark skin stress
- Artificial photosynthesis
- Mollusk glue
- Other examples of biomimicry
What is biomimicry
Biomimicry is a current of scientific thought that comes from the Greek “bios”, “life”, and “mimesis”, “imitation”. It seeks to emulate nature as a source of inspiration and learning to solve current anthropocentric problems that nature has solved by itself. Either from innovative technology or simpler systems.
Jaine M. Benyus delves into her book Biomimicry, on how science innovates inspired by nature . It exposes the strategies that biomimetics acquires from the analysis of the functioning of nature:
- Use solar energy as an energy source.
- Consume only the energy that is needed.
- Fit form to function.
- Recycle everything like the cycles of matter.
- Reward cooperation between individuals.
- Count on the diversity of cultures and species.
- Demand local technology.
- Curbing excesses from within the system.
- Take advantage of limitations.
In short, it seeks to be more efficient both in terms of resources and energy to achieve a goal by observing nature . If we look at ecosystems we find very diverse and complete models. In all, the cycles of matter and energy are self-regulating. If there is an excess of individuals or matter, the system will take care of adjusting it again to return to the climax state through slight fluctuations, consuming as little energy as possible.
Each organism has evolved to achieve a perfect model of living being, within its limitations, adapted to its conditions and circumstances, so it is only necessary to study what adaptations they have developed to overcome different adversities. Already in the great Al-Andalus, the Andalusian sage Abbas Ibn Firnás, who died in 887 AD, created a contraption to fly by imitating birds. Although it was not a successful invention, it was learned that he had to add a tail to avoid plummeting and better control the flight.
Within biomimetic engineering it must be considered that to develop whatever product it is, it must reduce its carbon emissions and be respectful of its production model. Since it makes no sense if to produce it the analysis of its life cycle is more polluting and occurs in countries where working conditions are less strict. For this reason, it is a philosophy that not only includes imitating nature , but also that it is respectful and can be maintained in an ethical and sustainable way over time. If you have delved into the circular economy, you will appreciate how it has been inspired by this scientific trend. Here are some examples of biomimicry to help you understand it further.
Learning from termite mounds
Within the biomimetic architecture , the Eastgate Center by Mick Pearce, in Zimbabwe , stands out, a building that has a passive cooling system based on learning how African termite mounds work .
Termite nests are built on the principles of thermoregulation. First, it is oriented on the NS axis, then it has a chimney-like structure. In it, the hot air is extracted, which is less dense and allows the cooler air to pass through the base from a network of ducts built by the termites. In this way, they end up cooling the termite mound in situations where the external temperature can reach 42 ºC.
Shark skin stress
Sharks , despite moving very slowly, their skin is not populated by barnacles, algae or other organisms. This fact is what has led the Sharklet company to create surfaces that mimic the structure of shark skin so that microorganisms do not proliferate .
Said invention is of great interest for use in hospitals, such as door handles, railings or switches. It is estimated that millions of people acquire nosocomial or hospital infections by going to the hospital, despite constant cleaning of common spaces. Shark skin limits the growth of microorganisms by having a structure that generates stress on them due to their superficial disposition, causing them to die without giving them time to multiply.
Another of the most studied forms of nature is how to transform solar energy into energy usable by humans. One line seeks to imitate the natural photosynthesis produced by photosynthetic organisms where, from carbon dioxide, water and sunlight, they end up producing oxygen and cellular material.
By copying the light phase of plant photosynthesis, through the construction of photoelectric cells , the molecules of dioxide and oxygen are dissociated through hydrolysis of water. And with that, use it as an energy vector.
Within biomimicry, it has been studied how mussels, even in very adverse situations of pressure, humidity and temperature, manage to secrete a glue capable of adhering to rocks . One of the benefits of this glue is that in addition to being very resistant, it is not ecotoxic, so it would be more respectful compared to the rest.
Other examples of biomimicry
Here are other examples bio-inspired by nature :
- Swimsuits inspired by shark skin to reduce water friction.
- Bullet train that simulates in the peak of the Kingfisher.
- Strong and biodegradable alternatives to plastic inspired by the cuticle of insects.
- Fans based on the tail of the jibarte.
- Radar based on the echolocation of bats.
- Photovoltaic solar panels that trace the movement of the sunflower.
- Shoes that mimic the feet of the geko.
- Armadillo-shaped backpack.
- Bio-inspired Velcro on thistles.
- Walking stick for the blind that copies the echolocation of bats.
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