RE: Working Biomimicry

I think the post in regard to “Working Biomimcry” and the act of creating a structure such as this is fascinating. Not only am I extremely interested in this concept of a “Treepod” for the sake of our future, but also the concept of biomimicry as a whole. Mark Schwackhamer’s presentation sparked my interest and I have found myself on a few times this week already. The proposal for the Treepod is a rare idea that incorporates the structure of a tree while maintaining a healthy awareness of the environment.

On the Ask Nature website, I found a plethora of studies involving different habits that have been transcribed into studies of all sorts. The ones that intrigued me the most were those relating back to architecture insulation. One study in particular was that of goose feather structure. This relates back to the Treepod in the aspect of structure of nature being recreated by man to benefit society. The title of the study reads “Feather Structure Insulates: Canada Goose.” As if I wasn’t already aware of how cold it gets in Minnesota, this reminded me that there are countries further north of the equator than us who need insulation just as much, if not more, as we do. The study showed that these feathers insulate through “special architecture” (asknature).

Goose Down Feather

The structure is set up as follows: feather keratin occurs in a ‘b-sheet’ configuration which differs from the a-helices that occur in mammal keratins (asknature). These properties, the study found, are similar to the man-made polymers used in artificial insulation fibers. The results of this study is that the “architecture of down feathers is probably more important than material properties in determining their advantages over synthetic materials” (asknature).

Goose Feather vs. Mammal Fur

A few years ago, they began exploring the toughness of feather keratin as a whole by using instrumented clippers and scissors. Last week I wrote my blog post on polypropylene plastic and how it is used as a form of insulation. To further this post, I am curious about the ability of that polymer to be constructed in a ‘b-sheet’ to provide optimal insulation for a building.


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