Design for life.
The Biomimicry Institute’s Global Design Challenge invites students and independent professionals to address critical sustainability issues using nature as a guide.
News + Events
Air Ballast: Inspiration by Fish Swim Bladders Regulates Ship Bouyancy
A team from McGill University in Quebec, Canada, took inspiration from fish swim bladders for their first-place design in the 2013-2014 Biomimicry Design Challenge. The overall theme for this challenge was transportation, and the team decided to take on the issue of how to manage buoyancy in trans-ocean cargo ships, while eliminating invasive species in ships’ ballast water.
The act of filling and emptying ballast water in these ships has the unintended consequence of spreading invasive species around the world. Their design uses air instead of water to regulate buoyancy, which reduces threats to aquatic ecosystems.
Dromedarily Sustainable: Mimicking Camels to Improve Irrigation Systems
Egy-Osmo, a team from the German University in Cairo, won the Grand Prize in the 2012-2013 Biomimicry Design Challenge for their camel-inspired irrigation strategy. Their novel design leverages the city of Fayoum’s canal system for irrigation and non-chemical pest control. The team’s inspiration was the camel’s digestive system and the way it efficiently uses resources.
The improvements create constant circulation in the farms using water energy from waterfalls along the canals, eliminate stagnant ponds, filter the water before entering into the irrigation ponds, and reduce growth of the plant pest Tuta absoluta.
Artesis University College, Antwerp, Belgium
Inspired by honeybees and plants, a team from Artesis University College, Belgium, designed an efficient, low-cost evaporative cooler, and won second place in the 2012-2013 Biomimicry Design Challenge. Their design, called Wakati, limits post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables, which benefits farmers economically, prevents water loss due to food waste, and provides a more nutritious product for consumers. This technology uses just one liter of water per week, compared to 350 liters in existing evaporative coolers.
Wakati has successfully conducted laboratory testing and is currently conducting field-testing in West Africa.