Biomimicry Project

Introduction:

Natural selection has solved many technological and engineering problems including waterproofing, energy capture, food production, transportation and packaging. Thus, looking to nature can provide inspiration for innovative designs and solutions to our problems. Biomimicry is the study and imitation of nature in order to design and engineer human-made objects.

When biomimicry is well done, it is not just imitation, but inspiration using the design principles that nature has shown to be successful. In her book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, Janine Benyus suggests that biomimicry can be especially applied to the field of environmentally-friendly design. For example, she looks to the production of waterproof silk by spiders. This silk is a tougher material than Kevlar and is produced in water, at room temperature, using no high heats, petroleum oil, chemicals or pressures.

Benyus suggests looking more to nature for sustainable ways to produce quality materials and processes. She outlines nature's seven "rules" (below, source: http://www.interfacesustainability.com/mimicry.html); following them might lead to ways we could engineer more a sustainable way of life for humans.

  • Nature runs on sunlight

  • Nature uses only the energy it needs

  • Nature fits form to function

  • Nature recycles everything

  • Nature rewards cooperation

  • Nature banks on diversity

  • Nature demands local expertise

  • Nature curbs excesses from within

  • Nature taps the power of limits

Biomimicry can be used as a model for engineering designs that are useful to solve human problems. With the concerns for the environment, biomimicry may offer suggestions of how industrial designs can be more sustainable and appropriate for different climates and cultures.