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Can We Learn From Nature?

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What if we copy or mimic nature, can we gain valuable information on collecting and storing water?

That’s what Biomimicry is……. copying nature, and in our case solving a problem related to water, a diminishing resource.

Look at plants—succulents in particular. Succulents have adapted to extremely arid climates via water storage in their leaves, stems and roots. Not unlike our ideas at Bank-On-Rain of storing rainwater for future use. We are ‘mimicking’ a biological system.

Succulent2.jpg.scaled1000

If we understand Biomimicry, and create technologies that “mimic” biological systems, I believe we can improve human efficiency related to the use of resources and in addition we begin to function more like our natural surroundings. Mother nature has it all figured out—she recycles everything and adapts to the most extreme conditions. We need to ask ourselves, “What can we learn from nature in order to fit in to our surrounding ecosystems?”

If we as humans functioned as nature does, would we not become more sustainable? Of course we would, and we would use resources provided by our natural environment in a cyclical rather than linear fashion. This is a key concept. Nature works in cycles, while our economy, our industry, our consumption, and our pollution of the natural environment works in a linear way, and unfortunately, all of these linear activities are proliferating with time.

So how can we work to design a greener planet? What can we find in Nature to inspire us?

The Stenocara beetle obtains drinking water directly from its surroundings—fog in the extremely dry Namib Desert. An array of hydrophilic (water loving) bumps covers the Stenocara’s back and are surrounded by a superhydrophobic (very afraid of water) surface. The beetle tilts its wings back into the fog, tiny droplets move from the hydrophobic to the hydrophilic bumps, and once the droplets are large enough, they slide into the beetle’s mouth. Crafty, huh?

Stenocara_beetle.jpg.scaled1000

The Stenocara beetle has inspired ‘biomimic’ solutions for water scarcity in areas with little rainfall; re-creating the genius of the beetle’s physiology to harvest fog water. The technologies produced by this inspiration include grassroots solutions for water scarcity in dry, developing areas as well as the prospect of water harvesting from industrial exhaust gases.

What are we doing at Bank-On-Rain to become more like our natural surrounding systems? We are cyclic, just as nature. We are supporting local business in developing countries, and especially those that use recycled resources as products for our systems. We are storing what nature provides us and using it appropriately for our needs. We are a non-profit organization supporting a cyclical economy—growing slowly and adapting to what comes, just as nature does.

This post was inspired by a #futrchat discussion on twitter hosted by @Urbanverse and a group of fun futurists. #futrchat was one of the first online chats I visited and I strongly recommend this monthly chat.

If you have any comments or suggestions of what we could or should be mimicking in nature, please leave a comment below or email us at info@bank-on-rain.com

Emily Berg, Bank On Rain 2011 Intern and Researcher. THINK RAIN!

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Originally published June 27, 2011 on Posterous

Photo Credit (Stenocara beetle): JochenB

Sources:
Dorrer, C. and Rühe, J.. “Mimicking the Stenocara Beetle—Dewetting of Drops from a Patterned Superhydrophobic Surface.” Langmuir 2008, 24, 6154-6158.

Garrod, R., Harris, L., Schofield, W., McGettrick, J., Ward, L., Teare, D., Badyal, J.. “Mimicking a Stenocara Beetle’s Back for Microcondensation Using Plasmachemical Patterned Superhydrophobic—Superhydrphilic Surfaces.” Langmuir 2007, 23, 689-693.

 

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