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From trains to desalination vegetation, nature is inspiring radical designs


From birds that may fly for months on finish to large redwoods stretching tons of of toes into the air, the pure world conjures up awe and marvel.

For hundreds of years, humanity’s appreciation of nature has led to numerous works of literature, artwork, and even improvements in design and engineering.

Examples of the latter embrace the lengthy, pointy nostril of the 500 Series Shinkansen trains utilized in Japan.

Inspired by the beak of the kingfisher, the high-speed prepare’s elongated tip was designed to, amongst different issues, cease the loud noise — described by many as a “boom” — that may happen every time it handed by means of a tunnel at pace. 

The above tweak could be described as a type of biomimicry. Defined as “a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies used by species alive today” by the Biomimicry Institute, some suppose the idea may have an vital function to play when it comes to sustainability.

Janine Benyus is co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute. “I think people are going to biomimicry for the ‘sustainability win’ but they stay because of the novelty, because what they’ve found is category-disrupting platform technologies,” she informed CNBC’s Sustainable Energy.

One instance of bio-inspired design could be discovered at a desalination venture on the Greek island of Tinos, within the Aegean Sea.

“We call it (the) Mangrove Technology Platform because we take … inspiration from the mangrove ecosystem,” Alessandro Bianciardi, an environmental engineer concerned within the scheme, informed CNBC.

Bianciardi is co-founder of a start-up known as Planet which focuses on “biologically inspired design for sustainable innovation.” In reference to the Greek venture, he defined that mangroves had been ready to colonize empty coastal areas as a result of they’d “the capacity to desalinate water.”

“As it grows, it creates conditions conducive for other species … slowly and together, they build up an entire ecosystem, where before there was nothing,” he added. “So the idea here, the analogy, is to reproduce this type of process but with technologies.”

The scheme in Tinos makes use of a set of photo voltaic stills – equipment that harnesses the warmth of the solar alongside evaporation and condensation to purify saltwater and brine.

In addition to the purified water, which is used to develop tropical crops corresponding to pineapple, one other by-product of the method is salt.

“It’s very important because it allows (us) to utilize saline water to grow crops,” Bianciardi mentioned. “And eventually, in other locations, it could be used to regenerate land where land … is not productive anymore.”

While techniques such because the one in Greece are fascinating and present potential, there are additionally challenges: corresponding to getting “bio-inspired” initiatives past the prototype stage.

“First of all, when you try to emulate nature, you must be aware that sometimes natural processes are done at small-scale and in milder conditions than the ones that are needed for our society,” Bianciardi mentioned.

“So what happens is that, sometimes, when you try to scale up (a) natural process, you are not able to reproduce that.”

He went on to emphasize the significance of harnessing a variety of skills and concepts to take concepts about biomimicry to the subsequent stage.

“Biomimicry, by definition … is a multi-disciplinary practice,” he mentioned. “Definitely, it’s advisable to bring biologists to the process, because they … can indicate … which are the best natural models that you can emulate.”

He added that the subsequent steps rely upon the kind of drawback you’ve gotten to resolve.

“If it’s a technical problem, then you will need engineers, designers, architects,” Bianciardi mentioned. “If it’s a social problem — because biomimicry can be applied also to solve the social problems — then maybe you need other expertise like planners, social scientists, economists.”



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