Energy part 2: Be guided and inspired

By augustus 23, 2016 Algemeen

Be guided by and inspired…..

A lesson that can be learned from biomimicry-motivated invention can inspire confidence, given the public’s general impression that nature has proven to be creative in terms of crafting sustainable organisms and systems. Moreover, the innate appeal of nature, which has developed highly efficient and stable processes to not only control systems, but also perform tasks such as build new objects or store energy, enhances a positive perception of the otherwise cold, inanimate world of engineering.

The process of examining nature as one’s design inspiration leads to an unintended benefit: It teaches one to continuously strive to be as efficient as possible. Mimicking nature’s abhorrence of waste (wasted materials, wasted energy, wasted communications) leads to a philosophy that prizes simplicity as the ultimate elegance in design. Biological systems typically exhibit low energy requirements, high sensitivity, and redundancy. Furthermore, they exhibit parallel sampling and processing of sensory information.  This also reduces the likelihood of error due to loss of or failure of a receptor organ. A great lesson from nature is redundancy; in most biological systems there are many instances of redundancy due to the specialized application of each sensor. Biological systems provide insight into adaptable design, which often leads to designs that are more elegant, efficient, and sustainable.

There is immense room for improvement in harvesting, transformation (from one source to another), delivery, and use of energy today. The way society has historically approached—and continues to approach—energy use is far from efficient. From the technical perspective, energy conversions obey to the laws of physics and technical limits of the engineered machines. Economic and political factors play an important role in using some resources instead of others.

Today’s paradigm of energy and the existing energy grids rest on linear concepts of passive distribution and one-way communications with power flows from large suppliers to final consumers. This model, however, is outdated. It increasingly fails to meet the energy and environmental demands of society. Our existing energy infrastructure and paradigm must evolve into an increasingly efficient, active, and responsive network. Looking at nature can provide us with new source of inspiration.

Biological organisms have three outlets for interacting with a changing environment: physiology, morphology and behavior. A biological organism will adapt new functionality (physiology) or structure (morphology), or learn a new behavior to obey the instinctual actions of reproduce, protect, and strategies to sustain life.

Thus, four biological categories to consider when developing energy strategies and development:

  • Physiology: concerned with the vital functions and processes of biological systems. (non-physical characteristics)
  • Morphology: concerned with the form, structure, and the associations amongst the physical characteristics of a biological system. (physical characteristics)
  • Behavior: the sum of the responses of an organism to internal or external stimuli. (non-physical characteristics)
  • Strategy: a generic behavior, function, or process that is exhibited among multiple biological ranks to achieve different goals. (non-physical characteristics).

Promising biomimicry research and ideas, as a novel way of thinking to encourage us to look at the energy world through the lenses of nature. By emulating nature, we will improve efficiency and achieve long-term sustainability. The energy domain is ripe for biomimicry innovations, with ideas of a new energy system and future grid inspired by nature.

Connecting synergistic technologies for the creation of a system that is more than just the sum of its parts, producing multiple outputs and self-sourcing required inputs much like a natural ecosystem. This multiplicity allows for optimal resource allocation between processes to meet variable demand and maximise profit: at times of low-demand and high-supply, excess capacity may be directed to water production, and rapidly redeployed to electricity when required.

Energy production and harvesting (e.g., photosynthesis inspired technologies)

○ artificial photosynthesis photosynthetic, organisms for inspiration on how to create solar energy technology. Tackle photon capture and conversion to electrical energy; and fuel catalysis and storage.

○ wind turbine planning, studies of plant aeroelasticity, while wind farm design is inspired by the spatial arrangements of schooling fish. Vertical-axis turbines modeled after schools of fish, which save energy by swimming in offset rows and allowing the vortices created by the two neighbors swimming ahead of them to carry them forward

○ black butterfly wing, solar collection structurewings appear  deep  black  and  are  efficient sunlight collectors in the visible range regardless of the  angle of incidence

○ marine and wind turbines that mimic non-smooth surface

○ heliostat positioning for solar plants from sunflowers, heliostats, or mirrors, rotate with the sun to reflect concentrated sunlight toward a central tower.

Energy storage (e.g., nature inspired battery technologies)

○ conductors for batteries

○ hydrogen production through hierarchical structure in butterfly wing

Energy delivery and grid efficiency (e.g., efficient natural networks for grid design)

○ more efficient led light from fireflies

○ threats communication mechanism from insects

We need to shift how we think about sustainability to include solutions like biomimicry because it provides countless opportunities for improving our world. There is room to improve our buildings, products, and processes to optimize energy use, decrease waste, perform more efficiently, and be cost effective. Our world’s finite natural resources are depleting, and it is becoming increasingly urgent to find sustainable solutions to global issues. We want to build an’ institute’ to explore new ideas -not just energy related- and effective communication strategies through learning communities that bridge the classroom, research, and civic arenas.