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Nature-inspired Design: Green Student Bootcamp Challenge at TU Delft

How can a barrel cactus inspire innovation to minimise evaporation in hot weather? What design strategies can we learn from the Mimic octopus, who protects itself by mimicking deadly predators including a deadly sea snake or a poisonous flat fish? How can termite mounds inspire a heating and cooling system for a building? The answers to these questions are revealed by biomimicry!

Lydia Fraaije from Biomimicry Nederland challenged students to explore how nature’s principles and design strategies could be used to enhance their hobbies sustainably. Some exciting ideas flowed, including making waterproof clothing based on the design of water repellent fur of otters, generating energy from the kinetic energy of falling on a Jujitsu mat, designing a meet-up platform for yoga students based on the efficient pathway-building strategies of slime moulds, and designing a sports field that can generate different lines depending on the particular sport being played, inspired by the reflective nanostructure design of the Morpho butterfly’s wings.

Lydia and her multi-disciplinary team of colleagues from Biomimicry Nederland offer workshops to stimulate sustainable innovation with all professions – from engineers, to HR, to marketing and sales, everyone in the workplace can enhance their work by learning how to innovate sustainably from nature. For info on upcoming workshops (in Dutch & English) or to book your own workshop with colleagues, see: http://www.biomimicrynl.org/

Dr. Ingrid de Pauw teaches in the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, TU Delft. During her Ph.D she researched the approaches of 3 different nature-inspired design strategies: Cradle to Cradle, EcoDesign and Biomimicry, by giving groups of industrial design students the task of redesigning the university canteen’s cutlery. The EcoDesign teams reduced the size of the trays and replaced plates with an in-built plate inside the tray and the Cradle to Cradle teams redesigned the cutlery using more sustainable and recyclable plastics. The Biomimicry team looked to nature for design solutions for cutlery and found that animals don’t use cutlery, so their design eliminated all cutlery by serving wraps in biodegradable material and proposing bell peppers as soup bowls!

Dr Bertus Beaumont of the Department of Bionanoscience TU Delft, developed and teaches the ‘BioLogic’ elective course for TU Delft master students who want to learn how to extract the logic behind biological phenomena and apply it for technological innovation. We discussed innovations inspired by living systems developed at TU Delft, and discussed visions for future innovations including nano robots travelling inside our bodies fighting viruses and cancer cells.

BioLogic and Mechanical Engineering student Siddharth Kalra told us about his team’s invention that will compete for the upcoming global Biodesign Challenge in New York. We know that plastics are devastating for our earth and about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and solutions to clean it up. However, what about the microplastics that we can’t see, which come in great part from washing synthetic textiles? Siddharth and his colleagues looked to nature to devise a solution on how to filter small microplastics particles from water and their solution has been inspired by the design strategies of salps and the Manta ray.

The BioLogic course seeks to unlock the potential of the natural world for innovation. It is now possible to enrol for the next course in November, and you can find info here: https://www.delta.tudelft.nl/…/biologic-learning-living-sys…

Thank you Green Office TU Delft for helping to organise and host this inspiring and informative event! 💚

Our Green Student Bootcamp Challenge tour of the Netherlands ends next Friday 14 June with a special extended session in Amsterdam’s forest, completely dedicated to our connection with nature. If you’d like to join us, please check the event link for info:

 https://www.facebook.com/events/593449567834377/

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