Biomimicry for Energy Systems: What's Next?

Kristen Honey
Dec 31, 2013

[Part 1 of this series on biomimicry is posted as “Biomimicr-E: Nature-Inspired Energy Systems”]

Designs and efficiencies of nature have evolved through billions of years of natural selection into intricate systems that have inspired and can promote novel scientific thinking and effective systems. The energy domain, in particular, is ripe for a biomimicry revolution.

Throughout human history, man has created and improved energy systems, yet immense potential still exists for improvements in energy efficiency, generation, storage, and delivery within the constraints of global energy demands and the effects of energy use (e.g. climate change). Now is the time to re-think the current approach to energy systems. Scientists have the opportunity to look deeply and carefully at how biological systems harvest, utilize, and distribute energy, given the evolutionary history of life with billions of years of natural selection.

It is our belief that the next energy revolution will be a result of innovation, transforming our 20th century infrastructure into an increasingly efficient, active, and responsive system. Today’s energy paradigm is founded on the linear concepts of passive distribution and one-way communications, with power flows from large suppliers to final consumers. This model, however, is outdated. It increasingly fails to meet the energy and environmental demands of modern society that involves distributed generation, multi-way communication, and responsive network dynamics. It is time for an integrated generation/storage/delivery energy vision. 

Biomimicry research creates opportunities for complex adaptive systems that exist in nature to advance modern technologies, infrastructure, and policy approaches for the energy sector. This is of utmost societal importance in today’s interdependent world with increasing energy demands.

NOTE: If you would be willing to share additional examples of biomimicry in the energy world or would like to collaborate on future work, please reach out to Kristen and Noël. Please direct interest in co-authoring grants/proposals on biomimicry research for energy systems to Andrea.

Kristen Honey


This blog does not necessarily reflect the views of AAAS, its Council, Board of Directors, officers, or members. AAAS is not responsible for the accuracy of this material. AAAS has made this material available as a public service, but this does not constitute endorsement by the association.

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