Mushrooms, whales and hurricanes: how bio-inspiration boosts energy efficiency

Read the full story in The Guardian.

This week, the Biomimicry Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to bio-inspired engineering, announced the seven finalists in its first Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. The competitors, who come from around the globe, sought to develop efficient, nature-inspired solutions to food shortages. Their solutions copy a wide array of organisms, including an agricultural drainage system based on earthworms, an edible insect harvester based on a carnivorous plant and a desalinizing water still that imitates mangrove trees.

These projects – and the rest of the Global Design Challenge competitors – have until October to develop working prototypes for their inventions. In the meantime, here are a few other bio-inspired innovations that are already changing our lives and the way we relate to nature.

The greenhouse that acts like a beetle and other inventions inspired by nature

Read the full story in The Guardian.

For a new generation of innovators, biomimicry – the imitation of nature’s ecosystems – may help solve some of humanity’s toughest resource problems

Researchers cook up new battery anodes with wild mushrooms

Read the full story from Purdue University.

Carbon fibers derived from a sustainable source, a type of wild mushroom, and modified with nanoparticles have been shown to outperform conventional graphite electrodes for lithium-ion batteries.

Researchers at Purdue University have created electrodes from a species of wild fungus called Tyromyces fissilis…

Findings are detailed in a paper appearing online March 17 in the American Chemical Society’s Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal. (The paper is available at http://pubsdc3.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b00114).

A New Perspective of Design

Read the full post on ACS’ Green Chemistry blog.

In fall 2015, I enrolled in the chemistry course, Green Product Design, designated as a science class for non-science majors taught by chemistry professor Julie Haack at the University of Oregon. I had been looking for classes with a focus on sustainability because, I realized that I lacked knowledge about a crucial aspect of the purpose of design: how to design sustainably.  If I want to create sustainable products in the future, not knowing the full environmental impact of objects is a great disadvantage to me as a designer. If designers continue to create with little thought to the greater impact of their products, eventually they will run out of resources and materials greatly limiting product design’s potential. Continuing on our current track of using non-sustainable materials or using manufacturing processes that are harmful to the earth we are essentially designing our craft/trade into obsolescence.

What Apple’s reuse robot says about sustainability and tech

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

A robot that can take apart an iPhone is good for the visibility of green design, but it won’t fix environmental ills such as e-waste.

Webinar: Principles of Sustainable Product Design

May 19, 2016, 1-2:30 PM, CDT
Register at http://nbis.org/northwest-green-chemistry-webinar-principles-of-sustainable-product-design/

How do the principles of green chemistry and engineering inform sustainable product design?  Application of these principles ensures that products use materials that are safe, that can flow in a circular economy, and that have a beneficial impact on natural resources.  Three leading experts will each explain one of the three main branches of the Design Principles for Sustainable and Green Chemistry and Engineering and link these to successful business examples:  1) Maximize resource efficiency:  David Constable (Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute).  2) Eliminate and minimize hazards and pollution:  Lauren Heine (Executive Director, Northwest Green Chemistry).  3)  Design holistically and use life cycle thinking:  Kathy Hart (Senior Project Manager, US EPA Design for the Environment).