Biomimicry is a branch of science that looks to leverage the results of 3.8 billion years of evolution to solve engineering problems. It asks the question WWND — What Would Nature Do? The theory and practice are used to apply what we can learn from nature to the designs of engineered items. Dr. Eiji Nakatsu is the former Director of Technical Development and Test Operation Department of JR-West — the organization that created the railway system in Japan.
I have blogged about Dr. Nakatsu before:
- Eiji Nakatsu: Lecture on Biomimicry as applied to a Japanese Train
- The Return of Dr. Eiji Nakatsu and Biomimicry
Dr. Nakatsu's use of biomimicry can be summarized as:
The pantograph, a piece that connects a train to its power source, vibrated and made a loud noise. The pantograph was reshaped like an owl's wing that resulted in no vibrations and a quieter impact for residents near the tracks.
The supporting frame for the pantograph had a high degree of wind resistance resulting in aerodynamic noise. The supporting shaft was reshaped like a penguin's body to lower its wind resistance and further reduce noise.
When a train would enter a tunnel, a loud bang would occur due to the fixed air volume of the tunnel and the sudden increase in pressure from the entering train. The nose of the train was reshaped in the form of the Kingfisher to eliminate the sudden pressure increase. No more bang.
This week I received some news from Dr. Nakatsu. India has adopted his Japanese train design.
He also included a picture of the latest version of the Japanese train.
It's great to see biomimicry expand its reach.
Biomimicry is alive in the lab.