Monday, October 5, 2015

Listening to our non human siblings

Design inspiration comes in a lot of forms. When it comes to solar panels, engineers sometimes look toward the butterfly. One may not think this little insect is a powerhouse for harnessing solar energy, but a butterfly's beautiful wings offer far more than flight.

Scientists from the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) and the Centre for Ecology and Conservation of the University of Exeter employed biomimicry, or using patterns and techniques from nature in applied science, to help develop a more efficient way to turn light into power, also known as photovoltaic energy.

On cloudy days, a Cabbage White butterfly positions its wings in a v-shape and holds this stance for several moments before taking flight. This posture reflects heat downward, allowing the sun to warm up the insect's "flying muscles" before take off, thus utilizing and converting solar energy into kinetic energy.

Scientists assumed that if this unique positioning works for the butterfly, the same positioning might help solar panels soak up more energy from the sun. This theory proved to be right, as mimicking the Cabbage White butterfly's v-shaped pose increased the solar panel's energy production by 50 percent and making the power-to-weight ratio 17 times more efficient than other structures, according to the study published in Scientific Reports.
Perhaps if we humans listened more to what the rest of our non human siblings were telling us, we might be able to get out of this cluster*uck that we've created and which is sucking us into a sinkhole like this:

It's good to be multilingual!

You can read the rest of the article here, which is where the butterfly image is from.

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