Maybe we should spend more time looking at things right in-front of our nose rather than re-inventing the wheel!
- After noise complaints, Japanese Shinkansen trains now have a nose shaped like the bill of a Kingfisher – this profile means the trains produce far less noise, travel 10% faster and use 15% less electricity.
- Humpback whales have little bumps on the front of their fins called tubercles – engineers have found that by reproducing the tubercle shape on the front of wind turbine blades they have improved their performance even in steeply angled and strong winds.
- The ‘Eastgate centre’ in Harare, Zimbabwe uses an air conditioning system based on the system observed in termite mounds ie a complex porous surface that generates airflow through the structure. This has resulted in a building that saves on expensive and energy intensive refrigeration.
- BAE systems has mimicked the feet of the gecko with layer upon layer of splayed hairs ending in mushroom like caps. This resulting huge surface area is what gives the gecko its powers of adhesion. In tests a sample of the material no bigger than a t-shirt was enough to suspend a family car.
- Speedo’s Fastskin range of swimwear is based on the grooved denticles of a sharks skin which help to reduce resistance. Boat builders are benefiting too, shark denticles move individually making it difficult for parasites to stick to them. This is why their design is copied in the treatment of boat hulls, making them far more energy efficient without the added drag.