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Copying nature could save us energy, study shows

structural health monitoring) and the egg-laying organ of a wood-wasp (for a new type of steerable endoscope).

"Evolution has sculpted animals, insects and plants to produce incredibly efficient machines that carry out a range of impressive engineering feats," said Professor Vincent, Director of the Centre.

"From the way desert cockroaches gather water to the way wasps bore a hole into a tree, nature has developed a myriad of ways of solving difficult problems.

"By better understanding the way in which biology defines and solves technical problems, we can develop new approaches that could significantly reduce our dependence on energy.

"It is likely that we have similar technologies to nature ?it's just that we use them in a particularly unintelligent way.

"Exactly how much energy we could save is not yet clear, but our research suggests that the potential is certainly there to be exploited."

The researchers used a form of the Russian analytical system TRIZ to compare how man-made technologies and natural 'machines' overcome similar engineering problems.

The analysis showed that there is only a 12 per cent similarity in the way biology and technology solves the problems they are faced with.

"Whilst we have been quick to see the potential for developing new kinds of products from nature, it is only now that we can see the potential for making energy savings too," said Professor Vincent.

"Given the growing demands for improving our energy-efficiency and reducing the amount of pollution we produce, biomimetics offers a new area of study which could reap strong rewards for the future."


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Source:University of Bath


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