Castilleja fava – seed,rom
Seeds, time capsulesof life,
Rob Kesseler and Wolgang Stuppy.
Commercially developed recently by
, a company based in AtlantaGeorgia, such paints were inspired by how lotus leaves remain spotless withouta bar o soap. The secret lies in the ne microstructure o the lea, whichinduces water to orm tiny beads that roll o the surace taking dirt along withit. Given that we spend a large amount o money keeping things clean, otenwith the use o harsh detergents and chemicals, the development o suchmaterials has a wide range o benets – time, money and the environment.Another recent example is
’ ‘Bug Eye’ technology. When outin the eld at night, soldiers need the ability to see and have a wide eld ovision. Night vision cameras typically don’t have a wide eld o vision, andcurrent sh eye lenses oten used to solve this problem also distort imagesand are problematic or monitoring and tracking. Alex Partt’s team at
took inspiration rom a 4mm bug – the Xenos peckii – which have 50separate lenses each creating a separate image that are stitched together togive a single, large panoramic view.The team adapted this biology–inspired strategy, using nine lenses – each nobigger than a smart phone camera – and developing sotware to process theseimages in real time. The result is a vision system small and light enough to tinside a soldier’s helmet whilst doubling the eld o vision. Miniaturising thesystem urther could mean that the technology has wider applications – suchas in medicine where a wide eld o vision could enhance keyhole surgery.
The case or biomimicry
An ever growing awareness o biomimicry marks the start o a shit, somesay, rom an industrial model to an ecological one. Advocates suggest thatthe industrial age may have brought us many vital innovations, but it was alsobased on methods and systems o production that we can no longer sustain.Take material production or example. Our current models o production areenergy, resource, and oten chemically intensive. Janine Benyus, who coined theterm biomimicry in the book
Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
, calls suchmethods o production ‘heat, beat and treat’. This process results in huge amountso waste, during extraction, production and disposal. There is an estimate that 30tonnes o waste are produced per tonne o goods that reach consumers, with 98per cent o goods end up being thrown away within six months.Architect, contributor to the Eden project, and author o
Biomimicry in Architecture
, Michael Pawlyn, cites a compelling example.
, thestrongest synthetic material that we’ve manuactured so ar, is made byboiling petroleum in sulphuric acid at 750°C beore undergoing high–pressuretreatment to rearrange the molecules, leaving behind toxic waste. By contrast,spider silk is stronger than
, made at ambient temperatures, withcommon, non–polluting elements and no waste.Developments in nanotechnology and manuacturing are enabling us to buildmore like Nature does – rom the bottom up, but there is still much to learn indeveloping materials that can be produced at ambient temperatures and stillhave desired properties, such as strength and with very little waste.Indeed, there is very little waste in Nature – everything is part o a closed loopsystem, and advocates claim that this element in Nature is probably the mostcritical to learn i we are to move to creating zero waste systems. Part o thechallenge is seeing waste as a resource and creating benecial waste that hasresource potential.When civil engineer George Chan was tasked with developing a brewery inNamibia, he saw an opportunity to develop a system with as little waste aspossible. The result was not unlike the old woman who swallowed a fy. By thetime beer is brewed and has matured and is ready or bottling, several tons owaste grain and gallons o alkaline water need dealing with, at a high cost tothe manuacturer.In George’s system, rstly the alkaline water is used to grow Spirulina– microalgae that thrive in such conditions and are used as nutritionalsupplements. The now naturally–treated water is then channelled to a laketo arm sh, with the lake giving a means or ltering and recycling ground