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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Monday, 26 March 2012
in Mother Nature's Science

Biomimetics is Inspired by Nature

Biomimetics was an area of focus during the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American click beetle flowerChemical Society convention in San Diego which started this Saturday and will run through this week ending on Thursday.

You probably haven’t heard of biomimetics because it’s considered an “emerging field” but the idea behind it is simple to the point of almost being old-fashioned: looking to Mother Nature for ideas about how to use and adapt biological structures in beneficial ways for medicine and industry.

One idea that has come out of the field and was presented during a symposium was a buoyant material modeled after the incredible feet of the water strider bug -or Jesus bugs as they are known for their ability to walk on water - and made from “aerogel.” “Aerogel”  is made of “nano-fibrils” from plant cellulose. 

Olli Ikkala, from the Helsinki University of Technology in Finland, presented their research during a dedicated symposium and noted “that cellulose is the most abundant polymer on Earth, a renewable and sustainable raw material that could be used in many new ways.” Cellulose is commonly used for paper and textiles but it’s strength and the use of a nanocellulose is what warranted more research.

At a biomimetics panel today Ikkala and his colleagues stressed the importance of non-oil derived materials that still provide the strength and possess the properties needed to make them practical, applicable, and above all renewable.

Like Geckskin, the flexibility and possibilities of “nanocellulose aerogels” are exciting the field with its potential applications.  Ikkala sees the material being used in the construction of “miniaturized military robots” and even for everyday household items like children’s toys.

"It can be of great potential value in helping the world shift to materials that do not require petroleumalvimann sticks for manufacture," Ikkala explained. "The use of wood-based cellulose does not influence the food supply or prices, like corn or other crops. We are really delighted to see how cellulose is moving beyond traditional applications, such as paper and textiles, and finding new high-tech applications."

Ikkala and his team introduced  the “nanocellulose carrier,” or the buoyant but strong and light material mentioned at the beginning of the blog, before we got into the details of cellulose. The lead in to the abstract mentioned a boat made from a single pound of the material could carry about 1,000 pounds. So stick that bit of info in your boat and float it!

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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