|Meaning: to imitate
In essence, biomimicry or biomimetics means to imitate life.
Nature is thought to have pre-made solutions for most human questions. So why not use these solutions in our engineering?
One of the earliest and most popular examples of biomimicry is hook & loop fasteners.
In 1955, while hunting with his dog in the Swiss Alps, George de Mestral saw the burrs were getting caught on his dog’s fur and his clothes. This observation led to the creation of VELCRO® Brand products.
Though this example is enough justification, let’s delve more into the why and how of biomimicry. We’ll also tell you easy ways to apply the concept to your homes.
Applying Biomimicry in Various Sectors
Agriculture is an industry paramount to human life. It is also an industry that is responsible for one-third of the global greenhouse gas emission and pollution of various resources.
Bettering the industry is vital. Here are three examples where biomimicry answered problems in agriculture.
- The CHAAC HA has been modeled after spider webs and bromeliads. The material of the collectors is inspired by the way bromeliads channel the water. Using the structure of spider webs, the device is made easy for transport. One apparatus can collect up to 2.5 liters of water from dew in a single night.
- A drainage pipe, made of natural material mimics the earthworm’s villi. The finger-like projections help absorb nutrients in the worm.
This pipe was made by students at the University of Oregon. It helps reduce fertilizer and chemical runoff in a field. The filtration system gives the soil extra time to absorb nutrients and fertilizers. This results in improved soil health.
- A lot of the food waste is due to fungus spoilage. Synthetic fungicides are harmful and also rendered ineffective over time.
Most plants have natural methods to combat diseases. They use terpenoids, alkaloids, and phenols. Nanomick Biotechnology uses this technique to kill fungi on plants. Their targeted micro-encapsulation technique surpasses the effectiveness of synthetic ones.
Human-derived solutions to architecture are crude and additive according to Peter Niewiarowski, a biologist at the University of Akron. He says manmade solutions are expensive. They take advantage of raw materials to speed up processes.
Biomimetics in architecture leads to sustainable buildings that are also likely to last longer. Biomimicry-focused buildings can also help reduce energy consumption.
Here are some examples to back these statements.
- bioMASONS has created a biological cement that has little to no carbon emissions. The technology uses bacteria that alter the pH balance of the surrounding material. This allows calcium carbonate to bind the materials together. This process is how microorganisms make coral reefs.
- Biomimicry is applied to seawalls in the coastal town of Blackpool. The step-wall imitates the natural sand dunes which helps reduce the force of the waves.
- The palm leaf pattern is also commonly replicated in buildings. The zig-zag pattern and the fan shape of the leaf are often seen in large buildings.
This pattern helps facilitate rainwater passage and also helps ease building maintenance.
In the world of interior designing, biomimicry can be as simple as painting the walls with nature’s colors. Biophilia, or the human’s innate tendency to love things from nature, makes biomimetics necessary.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to apply the concept in your homes is with plants. Being surrounded by greenery is a foolproof way to reduce your stress.
But bringing a real tree into your home may not always be possible. Here, you can substitute your interior design with artificial tropical trees for a touch of biophilia.
A fake indoor palm tree will transport you straight to the emotions of a beach vacation. Though fake, the natural-looking foliage will help calm your mood.
The following is are examples of biomimicry in interior designing.
- Bioluminescence is usually found deep in the ocean where light can’t penetrate. But this concept is being proposed as an energy-saving way to light interiors ever since the glow-in-the-dark rabbits debuted in 2013.
- The Bartlett School of Architecture has created tiles that can remove heavy metals and toxic dyes from water. The Indus tiles are inlaid with algae in the form of a hydrogel. This can filter harmful substances. These tiles can be applied in places with polluted water sources.
- Biomimicry can also be applied to landscape designing. This practice highlights the purpose a plant serves.
For example, why would you have fake palm trees for the pool area as opposed to a rose bush? The palm can act as a sunshade. Leaves don’t fall from the tree either, which reduces the effort needed for maintenance.
The fashion industry takes responsibility for 10% of human carbon emissions. Fast fashion also does nothing to solve the waste management crisis. This is why sustainability is vital in fashion.
Fabric inspiration is taken from nature to make waterproof and heat-retaining fabrics. In some instances, designs are also modeled after nature to produce unique clothes.
Here are some examples where fashion benefitted from nature.
- We’re all well-socialized with raincoats and how they repel water. Did you know the concept used here is called the ‘Lotus Effect’? This gives fabric self-cleaning properties and also makes it impervious to water.
- A fabric that turned heads at the Sydney Olympics was Speedo’s Fastskin line of swimsuits. This fabric mimics the skin of a shark. The sandpaper-like texture reduces drag in water leading to better performance.
- Algalife fiber is a good example of how biomimicry can help improve wearer and environmental health. Using only water and the sun, the fibers are created with minimal resource consumption. It is also a zero-waste fabric as it is fully biodegradable.
One of the easiest ways to adopt biomimicry into your life is with plants. Introduce faux plants into your homes to improve your mental health.