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Test your eye for biomimicry

From what living creature is this image taken? From designing packaging for consumer products and manufacturing artificial bones, to developing new materials, chemical processes and high-performing systems, designers, scientists and researchers are taking inspiration from nature to do better with less. Have you ever tried your skill at learning from nature? Here's your chance. How would you "mimic" the properties of this in a material or design? [gravityform id="4" name="Material Challenge" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]


Updated 11/06/2013

Answer: Shark scales under the microscope.




Resource Fix: A bio-inspired material that changes shape

Have you ever watched a time lapse of a pine cone as it dries or absorbs moisture? Pine cones, which are comprised of connected layers of material, change shape in response to moisture. The shape change occurs because of the alignment of fibers within the layers - one layer moves in one direction, bending the cone’s scales.

Inspired by pine cones, scientists have been developing similarly responsive materials. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have layered materials in precise directions to achieve different types of movements, like curling, bending, and twisting. By using an iron-oxide coating, they have found a way to create self-shaping objects that could be made from a variety of materials. There are potential industrial applications (ceramic parts that shape themselves rather than being pressed into shape), as well as medical applications (medical implants that take shape once they’ve reached proper destination inside the body).

As scientists learn more about how nature achieves certain properties or functions, they’re developing more precise and adaptable applications. What other recent biomimicry developments have you seen? How might they impact resource performance in your industry?



Resource Fix: Soft infrastructure

While the impacts of Hurricane Sandy are still being assessed, people are talking about how to best prepare for future storm and tidal surges along coastlines. Increased wave action and flooding threaten safety as well as infrastructure, drinking water supplies, and much more.

According to the authors of On the Water: Palisade Bay, a coastal plan for the greater New York City region, "soft infrastructure" should be central to any strategy. Soft infrastructure refers to systems that mimic nature's methods for dealing with floodwaters, in contrast with "hard" engineering solutions. Their recommendations include:

Have you seen examples that reshape current urban waterfronts based on knowledge of how natural systems operate?[contact-form 2 "ResourceFix Tip Contact Form"]