September 8-13, 2019
Access to a safe supply of water is a human right. However, with growing populations, global warming, and contamination due to human activity, it is one that is increasingly under threat. It is hoped that nature can inspire the creation of materials to aid in the supply and management of water, from water collection and purification to water source clean up and rehabilitation from oil contamination.
Many living species thrive in even the driest places, with some surviving on water harvested from fog1,2,3. Due to temperatures lower than dew point in the deserts at night, water condensation also occurs from ambient2,3. By studying living species, new materials can be developed to provide a source of fresh water from fog and condensation for communities across the globe as well as in emergency and defense applications2,3. The vast majority of water on Earth is in the oceans. However, current desalination processes are energy intensive. Systems in our own bodies have evolved to transport water efficiently while blocking other molecules and ions. Inspiration can be taken from such to improve the efficiency of desalination and help purify water containing other contaminants1,2,3. Finally, oil contamination of water from spills or the fracking technique can result in devastating environmental disasters1,2. By studying how natural surfaces interact with liquids, new techniques can be developed to clean up oil-spills and further protect our most precious resource4.
1Brown, P. S. and Bhushan, B., “Bioinspired Materials for Water Supply and Management: Water Collection,
Water Purification, and Separation of Water from Oil,” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 374, 20160135 (2016).
2Bhushan, B., Biomimetics: Bioinspired Hierarchical-Structured Surfaces for Green Science and Technology, third ed., Springer (2018).
3Bhushan, B., “Bioinspired Water Collection Methods to Supplement Water Supply,” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 377, 20190119 (2019).
4Bhushan, B., “Bioinspired Oil-water Separation Approaches for Oil Spill Cleanup and Water Purification,” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 377, 20190120 (2019).
Bharat Bhushan, "Bioinspired materials for water collection, water purification and oil-water separation" in "Nature-Inspired Engineering", Marc-Olivier Coppens, University College London, United Kingdom Bharat Bhushan, Ohio State University, USA Eds, ECI Symposium Series, (2019). https://dc.engconfintl.org/nature_inspired/22