Biomimicry: what it is, characteristics and examples

ways to imitate nature

Lately there has been a resurgence of alternative development models that aim to address contemporary problems in a more sustainable and effective way. One of those models is the biomimicry, which involves using nature as a paradigm, metric and educator. This is achieved by studying and assimilating the refined processes and mechanisms that have been perfected over time through evolution and natural adaptation.

In this article we are going to tell you what biomimicry is, its characteristics and examples.

What is biomimicry


Biomimicry is a concept that involves looking to nature for inspiration and solutions to problems. It involves observing and studying natural processes, systems and structures to understand how to design and create sustainable technologies and innovations that can benefit society and the environment.

The concept of biomimicry derives from the Greek roots "bios", meaning life, and "mimesis", which means imitation. This current of scientific thought aims to draw inspiration from and understand nature to solve problems that humans currently face but that nature has already solved. Whether developing advanced technology or simpler systems, the goal is to mimic nature's solutions.

The principles of biomimicry are the following:

  • Solar energy is a viable alternative as an energy source.
  • It is recommended to use only the precise amount of energy necessary.
  • The design of an object It should always be aligned with your intended purpose. This means that the shape of the object must be specifically tailored to its function, ensuring that it is efficient and effective in achieving its intended purpose.
  • As with the cycle of matter, it is essential to recycle all materials.
  • An effective approach to promoting collaboration is to encourage joint efforts between people.
  • We can trust the variety of cultures and species.

Benefits of biomimicry

imitate nature

In an effort to support local industries and businesses, there is a growing call to prioritize the use of technology that is produced and developed within the community itself. This demand for local technology aims reduce dependence on foreign technologies and promote the growth of domestic industries. These are the benefits of diagenesis:

  • Prevent internal excesses within the system.
  • It is beneficial to use restrictions and limitations to your advantage.
  • The objective is to improve efficiency in terms of resources and energy by emulating natural processes.

When examining ecosystems, we can find a large number of complex and complete models. These models they self-regulate and maintain a balance of matter and energy through several cycles. The system will adjust in case of excess individuals or matter, restoring balance and returning to a stable state through small fluctuations using minimal energy.

Aspects to consider

In the field of biomimetic engineering, it is essential to consider that any product developed must adhere to two fundamental principles. Firstly, it must limit carbon emissions in its production and secondly, must respect a respectful and ethical production model. It would be counterproductive to analyze the life cycle of a more polluting product produced in countries with less strict working conditions.

Thus, biomimicry is not only about imitating nature, but also about respecting it and maintaining sustainability over time. The circular economy has been inspired by this scientific trend and below are some examples of biomimicry that further clarify this concept.

Examples of biomimicry

what is biomimesis

Imitating termites

Of particular note is the Eastgate Centre, an excellent example of biomimetic architecture, designed by Mick Pearce in Zimbabwe. This building has a unique cooling system that works without any active mechanism, inspired by cooling methods observed in the structure of African termite mounds.

The construction of termite nests is based on the principle of thermoregulation. Initially they are built with an orientation on the North-South axis and a structure similar to that of a chimney. This structure allows the Extraction of warm, less dense air and flow of cooler air into the base through a complex network of ducts cleverly created by the termites themselves. This sophisticated system of ducts and air flow serves to regulate the temperature inside the termite nest, a critical function when the outside temperature can reach 42ºC.

Example with sharks

Shark skin-induced stress is a topic of interest, particularly in the field of biomimetics. The texture of shark skin has the potential to reduce resistance and increase swimming efficiency, resulting in reduced energy expenditure. Researchers are exploring the possibility of replicating this texture in various applications, including ship design and biomedical devices.

Although sharks are known for their slow movements, their skin remains free of barnacles, algae, and other organisms. This unique characteristic has inspired the Sharklet company to create surfaces that imitate the structure of shark skin to prevent the proliferation of microorganisms.

The potential applications of this innovative invention are especially notable in hospital environments, where door handles, railings and switches could benefit from its use. Despite thorough and routine sanitation in common areas, millions of people still contract nosocomial infections during hospital visits. The structure uniqueness of shark skin is capable of preventing the growth of microorganisms by inducing stress on their surfaces with its specific surface arrangement, preventing them from multiplying and causing them to expire quickly.

artificial photosynthesis

Artificial photosynthesis is the process of replicating the natural process of photosynthesis, which occurs in plants, algae, and some bacteria. Using various catalysts and materials, artificial photosynthesis aims to produce clean, renewable energy by converting sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into usable fuels such as hydrogen or carbohydrates.

Among the most researched areas of nature is the process of converting solar energy into a usable form of energy for human consumption. Scientists have been exploring various methods to mimic the natural process of photosynthesis, which is responsible for creating oxygen and cellular material from carbon dioxide, carbon, water and sunlight.

Through the construction of photoelectric cells that imitate the light phase of plant photosynthesis, the dioxide and oxygen molecules are separated through the process of water hydrolysis, thus becoming an energy vector.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about what biomimicry is and its characteristics.

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