Category Archives: modularity

future glass will withstand the impact of a baseball

shellHow do sea shells stay in one piece as they are buffeted constantly by strong currents and waves? After all, most shells consist of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which is a brittle and relatively weak material. Calcium carbonate takes many forms including marble, limestone, and chalk.

One secret of success is the distribution of fine cracks within the shell structure.

Technical application:

ultrastrong glass

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Intestine – Fuel Tank

ooThis is an unusual example of practical designs found in nature. Automobiles have several new options for fuel including batteries, hydrogen gas, and natural gas. Natural gas is especially attractive because it is in good supply in the U.S., and emits only half the carbon dioxide of conventional fossil fuel. However, one challenge is to carry enough natural gas on board the vehicle for practical driving. Large, high pressure cylinders are expensive, bulky, and somewhat hazardous.

Technical application:

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inspired by a tree: bypassing problems will make complex systems more fail-safe

Vein_sceletonLook closely at many tree and plant leaves and you will see an intricate network of veins. Besides the channels branching outward from a central stem, you may also notice many smaller veins in random directions, connecting with each other in closed loops. This complex arrangement is unlike the simple outward geometry of tree branches and root systems. The structure provides protection for the leaf. Suppose there is damage from disease, insects, or wind so that a vein is broken. Nutrients and water can then take alternate paths across the leaf through adjacent veins. Even the larger, central vein of the leaf can be successfully bypassed. The multiple veins also allow for fluctuations in nutrient loads due to moisture and temperature changes. Similar loop network designs are observed in coral colonies, insect wings, and the blood vessels of our eye.

Technical application:

create safe complex systems

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Use algae to create meachanical nano gears

diatom1 diatom2Diatoms are microscopic, single-celled algae. They are typically a few microns in diameter, ten times smaller than the width of a human hair. There are many thousands of distinct diatom species known, in both plant and animal varieties. They exist in countless numbers in the sea and are the base of many food webs.

 

Technical application:

unexpected high

 

 

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Building based on mechanical stiffness of sea-sponges

sponge The Euplectella aspergillum is a cylindrical sponge that lives intropical waters. It has a height of 45 cm. Its exoskeleton conbionic_buildingsists of hydrated, amorphous silicon dioxide organized into a complexnetwork of spicules that supports the structure. These fibres, whichare 5-10 cm long and as thin as a hair form a crown at the foot ofthe network that anchors the sponge to the bottom of the ocean.

Technical application:

tall structures

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Fluid wood instead of plastic for incredible structures

fluid_woodArboform acts a lot like any other petroleum-based plastic to a manufacturer. It can be injection-molded as a heated liquid to form any shape. But Arboform is not made of petroleum. Instead, it is made of “Lignin, combined with resins, flax and other natural fibers” as described in this article:

Technical application:

substitute plastic

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