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Tapping into Nature

The Future of Energy, Innovation, and Business

Abstract

By tapping into billions of years of research and development, innovative companies are abstracting strategies from the natural world and developing truly transformative technologies. Organisms have flourished on Earth for nearly 4 billion years, continuously adapting to our planet’s diverse environments and diffuse energy flows. Tapping into Nature explores how pioneering companies are leveraging these adaptations and demonstrates the vast and largely untapped market potential of bioinspired innovation.

In this paper, Terrapin explores nine cross-sector topics and selects natural strategies related to each. The biological strategies represent only a fraction of the designs found in nature. Each section then presents bioinspired products—some of which are Terrapin collaborations—that have been developed by companies using these strategies. All told, this set of strategies and products begins to convey the breadth of innovation in the natural world.

The infographic “Market Readiness of Bioinspired Technologies” on page 8 showcases over 100 examples of bioinspired technologies, ranging from early concepts to profitable commercial products. The broader economic and environmental potential of this rapidly growing field is detailed on page 16 in “Bioinspired Innovation: An Economic Engine.” By tracing the path from biology to commercialized technologies, we hope to inspire you to tap into nature at your organization.


Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    • Market Readiness of Select Bioinspired Technologies [Infographic]
    • Bioinspired Innovation: An Economic Engine
  • Carbon
    • Selected Strategies
    • Existing Products
    • Products in Development
  • Water
    • Selected Strategies
    • Existing Products
    • Products in Development
  • Materials
    • Selected Strategies
    • Existing Products
    • Products in Development
  • Energy Storage & Conversion
    • Selected Strategies
    • Existing Products
    • Products in Development
  • Optics & Photonics
    • Selected Strategies
    • Existing Products
    • Products in Development
  • Thermoregulation
    • Selected Strategies
    • Existing Products
    • Products in Development
  • Fluid Dynamics
    • Selected Strategies
    • Existing Products
    • Products in Development
  • Data & Computing
    • Selected Strategies
    • Existing Products
    • Products in Development
  • Systems
    • Selected Strategies
    • Existing Products
    • Products in Development
  • Appendix
    • Market Readiness Infographic References
    • Section References
    • Image References

Copyright & Commercial Use

This article is available to the general public without fee or other access control. Anyone may read this article or use it for their own personal or academic purposes. No commercial use of any kind is permitted unless specific permission is granted in writing in advance. The copyright of this article is by Terrapin Bright Green, LLC. The copyright of images is by cited photographers.

Reference: C.A. Smith, A. Bernett, E. Hanson, C. Garvin, Tapping into Nature, Terrapin Bright Green LLC, 2015.


Notice

This report was prepared by Terrapin Bright Green LLC in the course of performing work contracted for and sponsored by NYSERDA. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect those of NYSERDA or the State of New York, and reference to any specific product, service, process, or method does not constitute an implied or expressed recommendation or endorsement of it. Further, NYSERDA, the State of New York, and the contractor make no warranties or representations, expressed or implied, as to the fitness for particular purpose or merchantability of any product, apparatus, or service, or the usefulness, completeness, or accuracy of any processes, methods, or other information contained, described, disclosed, or referred to in this report. NYSERDA, the State of New York, and the contractor make no representation that the use of any product, apparatus, process, method, or other information will not infringe privately owned rights and will assume no liability for any loss, injury, or damage resulting from, or occurring in connection with the use of information contained, described, disclosed, or referred to in this report.

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Tapping into Nature

The Future of Energy, Innovation, and Business

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