This is the last article in the series of biomimicry, in the previous articles we have explained the basic of biomimicry and presented products designed to collect water from the air, all of them inspired on the desert beetles’ ability to survive in arid and dry areas. The products presented are; small-scaled solutions aimed for the end-consumer´s reality and needs. In this, the last article of 2014, we will show examples at how the principals of biomimicry can help us create solutions that lowers the water and energy footprint of a whole society, helping us to adapt and better face the challenges ahead of us.

Sahara Forest Project

Michael Pawlyn is a British architect & biomimicry spokesman that has built a reputation as a leader in biomimicry. In 2007 Michael established his own architecture firm Exploration, concentrating exclusively on environmentally sustainable projects that are influenced by nature. The firms works actively to turn linear consumption models into cycles, much like an independently working ecosystem.

Visit Explorations website to learn more about Michael Pawlyn ´s work.

Mr. Pawlyn’s latest project aims to help reverse desertification in arid regions by growing vegetation. In the Sahara Forest Project he merges two different technologies; concentrated solar power and seawater-cooled greenhouses, to produce renewable energy, crops and water. The project started successfully in 2012 with the construction of the first small-scaled version of the Sahara Forest Project – a one-hectare Pilot Facility in Qatar. Its success has also inspired a new feasibility studies in Jordan.

During this first phase the team has been testing and refining all the proposed technologies and the synergies between them in preparation for the next phase; a 20 hectare Test and Demonstration Centre. In the course of the initial testing the greenhouses achieved productivity levels equal to commercial greenhouses in Europe (75 kg/m2/year) using half the amount of fresh water of conventional approaches.

This film made by the Sahara Forest Project team describes some of the key ideas behind the Sahara Forest Project. 

Read The Economist interview with Michael Pawlyn.

You might also be interested in seeing Michael Pawlyn´s Ted talk; Using nature’s genius in architecture

The Artificial Leaf 

Another big thinker is the scientist and professor of energy at Harvard University, Daniel Nocera, he strives to save the planet from its hydrocarbon addiction.

Daniel Nocera has always taken unusual paths in life, as he puts it; he has always taken the hard way, the less-traveled way, and certainly the less conventional way; from his parochial second-grade school where he was expelled, to his many desertions from high school with a main purpose; to follow his favorite rock band. With this background it was almost inevitable that his scientific career would follow a non-orthodox path.

The idea of the leaf is simple and elegant; to convert the energy of sunlight into chemical energy, the leaf splits water via the photosynthetic process to produce molecular oxygen and hydrogen, which is in a form of separated protons and electrons. The artificial leaf is a thin sandwich of inorganic materials that uses the energy of sunlight to break the chemical bonds holding hydrogen and oxygen atoms together in ordinary H2O.

The Artificial Leaf is still in its development phase and professor Norceras main concern at this stage is to make the artificial leaf technology cheaper, more efficient, and simpler, so that it will be impossible to deny the path it opens towards a carbon independent society.

To learn more about the project and its inventor read the complete National Geographic interview.

Watch this award winning presentation of the Artificial Leaf, made by the filmmakers and partners at PF Pictures, Kelly Nyks and Jared.

To be able to adapt and survive as a society, change has to occur at all levels. In this series of articles about biomimicry we have tried to show big and small-scaled project that together seek to give new answers to solve the modern society’s biggest issues; energy food and water.

This two ambitious projects do not only bring new innovative solutions to create alternative energy and food sources but also demands, with its pure existence, a change in the fundamental understanding of what a sustainable society might look like. Reading and listening to this great minds turning to nature as an endless source of inspiration, gives us at Mora Water Systems hope that the future is going to bring more sustainable ways to face future challenges.

With this message of hope we at Mora Water Systems wish all of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR and a great start in 2015.