New technology could harness energy from trees

June 17, 2020 by  
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A new technology that draws power from trees brings a new dimension to the sustainable energy conversation. New research shows that drawing energy from trees could help power future cities. By converting tree movements into energy, anemokinetics technology taps into the power available in nature. For a long time, the world has struggled to come up with sustainable energy sources. The high demand for energy compared to its limited sources has proved a tough puzzle to solve. Anemokinetics technology could be the answer to this ongoing clean energy issue. The concept of anemokinetics is based on the first law of thermodynamics, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. In other words, the energy we use is continuously available in nature in various forms. The problem is converting available energy from one form to another for specific purposes. According to a project published on  Behance , anemokinetics allows scientists to harness energy from trees via the oscillation of branches. The study first investigated tree branches’ range of movement. Research found that tree branch movements fluctuate depending on wind speed, tree height and tree type. Tree branch displacement occurs at a rate of between one and 25 cm every moment. Although further studies are still underway to determine the best way to tap this energy, scientists have already created a prototype electric circuit and conducted field testing. Research found that each branch movement cycle “generates a charge equal to 3.6 volts with a current of 0.1 amperes and a duration of 200 milliseconds.” These figures could spell a bright future for anemokinetics. The project also proposes using the generated energy for off-grid navigation. Although the study still needs investment and further research , the preliminary findings are promising. Anemokinetics technology has plenty of possible applications, including powering sensors to create an Internet of Forest. + Behance Images via Alexander Altenkov

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New technology could harness energy from trees

New study takes nuanced look at bug decline

May 1, 2020 by  
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While scientists have observed the worldwide decline of  insects  over the last decades, a new study shows that the big picture is more complicated than they thought. The study, published in  Science , drew on data from 166 surveys from 1,676 sites. Some of the broad findings were that, while the number of land-dwelling insects is going down, freshwater bugs are increasing. And if you’ve noticed a decrease in bugs splattering your windshield, you’re right. “Our analysis shows that flying insects have indeed decreased on average,” said Jonathan Chase of the German Centre for Integrative  Biodiversity  Research, one of the study’s authors. Insects are extremely diverse, with many species filling key roles on the planet, such as recycling nutrients, aerating soil and pollinating  plants . The study shows how nuanced and mysterious insects are, with many hiding away under the soil, in tree canopies and on riverbanks. Surprisingly, even when bugs live close together geographically, some populations can be thriving while nearby members of the same species are floundering. The study found that overall, terrestrial insects such as ants,  butterflies  and grasshoppers were decreasing by 0.92% per year. This equals 9% per decade. “That is extremely serious, over 30 years it means a quarter less insects,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Roel Van Klink, of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. “And because it’s a mean, there are places where it is much worse than that.” Bug decline was particularly severe in Western and Midwestern regions of the U.S., and Europe, especially Germany. The increase in freshwater insects such as midges and mayflies was one bright note in the study — assuming you’re not sunbathing on a lakeshore. Their populations were growing by about 1.08% per year. Freshwater insects were especially trending in the western U.S., northern Europe and  Russia . Researchers credited this population growth to legislation that has cleaned polluted lakes and rivers. “We believe that because we see these increases in fresh water insects, that are related to legislation being put in place, it makes us hopeful that if we put in place the right types of legislation for land insects we can also make them recover,” said Van Klink. Even the terrestrial insects could still make a comeback, Van Klink said. “The nice thing about insects is that most have incredibly large numbers of offspring, so if you change the  habitat in the right way we will see them recover really fast.” + BBC Images via Pexels

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New study takes nuanced look at bug decline

New indestructible bridge design was directly inspired by nature

July 14, 2016 by  
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The job of structural engineers around the world is arguably getting more difficult. Many urban centers are experiencing booming populations and increased vehicle traffic, and environmental changes create new challenges for buildings, bridges, and roadways. New breakthroughs in engineering design from the University of Warwick could lead to indestructible bridges that rely on compression for their strength, and lack the weak points that make traditional bridges so vulnerable. And the design process is inspired by nature. Wanda Lewis of University of Warwick’s School of Engineering employs the process of ‘form-finding’ to create bridge designs that need little or no maintenance or repairs. For a quarter century, Lewis has been studying forms in nature to learn how simple stress patterns make it possible for delicate objects, such as a leaf on a tree, to withstand the intense force of wind, rain, or impact against a tree branch. Although she says “nature’s design principles cannot be matched by conventional engineering design,” she has developed a mathematical model that could lead to super durable manmade bridges . Related: Washington just built the world’s longest floating bridge The optimal arch—a fully self-supporting bridge structure—has been the target of engineers for centuries, and Lewis’ research could be the key that unlocks the next wave of structural engineering . Her mathematical models respond to the failings of the inverted parabola and the catenary form, classical theory’s only two existing concepts for an optimal arch which both have weak points. The new models could help engineers build bridges that can withstand not only heavy regular traffic, but also earthquakes, floods, and high winds. Her findings were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science . Via Phys.org Images via University of Warwick and Wikipedia

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New indestructible bridge design was directly inspired by nature

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