Leafy drones and fruit energy. Here are some interesting technologies based on nature

Over the centuries, nature has developed mechanisms that allow organisms to survive the most extreme conditions. Today, these methods are used by the technology industry.

Industry giants employ a whole team of researchers and testers who invent and develop new technologies that can set the brand apart from the competition. Meanwhile, Mother Nature has been doing it alone for billions of years, using the best (but time-consuming) tester out there – evolution. Over the centuries, nature has developed many amazing mechanisms that have been an inspiration to mankind since the dawn of time. Especially in the technical industry you see many tangible examples of copying the natural mechanisms of animals and plants, which, enriched with the latest technological and scientific achievements, together create impressive solutions. Here are five interesting examples of how nature can be used in the service of technology.

The energy of the durian fruit

Durian is a fruit that you can hear a lot of bad things about. This spiky creature native to Asia has been called the stinkiest fruit in the world, which combined with its grubby and very dirty flesh means it’s banned in public places in some Asian countries.

Source: Depositphotos

However, this does not mean that the durian fruit should be demonized. On the contrary, the installation can be used to power … electric cars. Australian scientists at the University of Sydney created an airgel that serves as a building block for electrodes from terribly smelly waste that would end up in a landfill. The synthesized durian fruit forms supercapacitors and acts as an efficient energy bank. Researchers believe that batteries made from durian can charge much faster and last longer than lithium-ion equivalents used in electric cars or smartphones.

A drone modeled after a maple leaf

Sometimes the best ideas just come from close observation, including a Klon trip. You probably know the characteristic leaves of this tree that turn in the wind like small windmills. Interestingly, this is not an accidental phenomenon, because the fact that plants stay in the air for a long time allows the plants to move further.

Researchers at the City University of Hong Kong decided to use this natural adaptation to create a drone that can stay airborne for longer. The device resembles maple seeds and thanks to two small fan blades at the ends of the “wings”, it spins just like its leafy counterpart.

Beetle water absorber

Nature has adapted organisms to function in adverse environments. It is the animals and plants that struggle with the rigors of extreme weather that are often the source of the most impressive technologies. Just like that inconspicuous beetle that scientists used to improve airplanes and cars.

Source: Hans Hillewaert / Wikipedia

Stenocara gracilipes is a beetle that lives in one of the driest places in the world – the African desert of Nambia. The annual rainfall is only 10-14 mm, so the organisms that live there have to provide water in a special way. This tiny beetle is able to catch water particles from a wind-blown fog, thanks to special humps that cover its wings. The liquid is then channeled into the mouth, turning the insect into a walking moisture absorber. Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have created a material capable of attracting and repelling water through chemical photolithography. The microstructures developed by them influence the condensation of moisture, causing frost and ice. Using technology in the construction of the aircraft prevents ice from sticking to the wings as it simply evaporates.

Trains as slim as the Kingfisher

Japan is known for its ultra-fast trains. Reaching speeds of 300 kilometers per hour requires special design solutions. Well, here nature comes to the rescue again, or rather, a small fish-eating bird.

Source: education

The Shinkansen is a network of high-speed lines inspired by the Kingfisher. This colorful bird has a long and flattened bill, which allows it to dive for prey with virtually no splashing. Earlier versions of the high-speed trains had to significantly reduce their speed before entering the tunnel, because the air pushed through the corridor released with a bang and a very large force that could threaten the structure. The use of a heavily flattened locomotive resembling a kingfisher’s beak helped to overcome this problem.

Gecko in space

Geckos were naturally given extremely strong suction cups. The reptile’s legs are covered with sticky hairs, which allows it to stick to the surface of trees for a long time. Unlike synthetic materials, which lose their grip over time, the gecko’s stickiness does not fade with prolonged use. NASA used this natural ability to develop space grabs.

In the near future, astronauts will be able to use grappling hooks that have the same properties as a gecko’s leg. All magic lies in the van der Waals forces, the collective name for various intermolecular forces. Speaking of the pregnant gecko, the fiber particles on the gecko’s legs react with the soil particles, preventing the animal from sliding off even smooth surfaces. The technology developed by NASA can withstand extreme conditions in space and makes it possible to maintain even a few kilograms of weight.

Stock image from Depositphotos

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