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Biomimicry: Nature as a Model

Exploration of the balance between our natural and constructed environments.
by

Melanie Piecuch

on 26 January 2012

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Transcript of Biomimicry: Nature as a Model

Biomimicry: Nature as a Model By: Melanie Piecuch - Natural Form
What is Biomimicry?
- A new discipline that observes and emulates nature's forms, processes and systems to solve human problems
- Based on idea that organisms have been evolving and refining solutions to universal problems for 4 billion years

Why is it important?
- Creates sustainable designs
- Avoids trial and error
- Improves efficiency What is a bionic car?
-A fully functioning and roadworthy compact car that is designed similarly to a boxy, cube-shaped, tropical fish.

What are the benefits?
- Framework of bones mimicked to drastically improve automotive aerodynamics and fuel consumption without reducing strength or safety Mercedes-Benz bionic car emulates the shape of a boxfish
Considerations: - Much research needed in order to choose nature's best ideas to emulate
- More improvements necessary like in bionic car (fossil fuel)
- No large scale production like in spider silk Leonardo DaVinci- "Those who are inspired by a model other than nature, a mistress above all masters, are laboring in vain" More aerodynamic structure - 40% more rigidity achieved by external door panelling
- 1/3 reduction in weight
- In wind tunnel tests, this car received a .06 wind drag coefficient
- Fuel consumption: 55 miles per gallon (compared with 37 mpg)
Bionic Car Commonground:
- Conserves strength with movement that will consume the least amount of energy possible
- Withstands high pressures and protects its body during collisions
- Move in confined spaces (search for food) 3 Levels of Biomimicry: - Natural Processes



- Natural ecosystems Spider silk is considered "Holy Grail" of biomaterials
- Light and flexible
- 3x stronger than steel (tensile strength of threads of silk is 1,154 Mpa while steel is 400 Mpa)

How do they create this silk?
- Express the silk genes of two spider species in the milk of a transgenic goat Uses:
- In medicine, artificial tendons, ligaments and limbs.
- Can be a substitute for Kevlar (10x more tough) which is a fiber spun into ropes used for bicycle tires, body armor clothing, electricity generation, etc. Natural Processes Natural form Process of making spider silk Nature can be viewed as a:
- Model
- Measure
- Mentor Agriculture:
- Grow food sustainably based on example of prairies

The Problem: The irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticide inputs upon which modern food crops depend both deplete and pollute increasingly rare water and soil resources.

The Solution: Using deep-rooted plants which survive year-to-year (perennials) in agricultural systems like found in prairies because they can produce equivalent yields of grain and maintain and even improve the water and soil resources upon which all future agriculture depends. Natural Ecosystems Case Study: "Harvested perennial grasslands provide ecological benchmarks for agricultural sustainability"

- Study site: a prairie in Kansas, USA
- Study based on 75 years of records
- Measured effect of harvested perennial grass and annual crop fields on ecosystem functioning
- They found many benefits of these fields such as:
1) Productivity similar to high-input wheat fields with only 8% of the energy costs
2) Nitrogen yield was 23% greater than wheat fields
3) Perennial fields harbored more species richness in terms of insect pollinators, herbivores, and detrivores
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