City Made Of Bone
Is there a better way to construct cities? Steel and concrete, along with their advantages, are very energy-intensive ways to build. Perhaps Nature can point the way...
[Bioengineer Dr Michelle Oyen of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering] works in the field of biomimetics – literally ‘copying life’. In her lab, with funding support from the US Army Corps of Engineers, she constructs small samples of artificial bone and eggshell, which could be used as medical implants, or even be scaled up and used as low-carbon building materials.
Like the real things, artificial bone and eggshell are composites of proteins and minerals. In bone, the proportions of protein and mineral are roughly equal – the mineral gives bone stiffness and hardness, while the protein gives it toughness or resistance to fracture. While bones can break, it is relatively rare, and they have the benefit of being self-healing – another feature that engineers are trying to bring to biomimetic materials.
In eggshell, the ratios are different: about 95% mineral to 5% protein, but even this small amount of protein makes eggshell remarkably tough considering how thin it is.
When making the artificial bone and eggshell, the mineral components are ‘templated’ directly onto collagen, which is the most abundant protein in the animal world. “One of the interesting things is that the minerals that make up bone deposit along the collagen, and eggshell deposits outwards from the collagen, perpendicular to it,” says Oyen. “So it might even be the case that these two composites could be combined to make a lattice-type structure, which would be even stronger – there’s some interesting science there that we’d like to look into.”
In her lab, Oyen and her team have been making samples of artificial eggshell and bone via a process that could be easily scaled up – and since the process takes place at room temperature, the samples take very little energy to produce. But it may be some time before we’re living in bone and eggshell houses.
This is a similar idea to architectural coral, an idea proposed by Larry Niven in his 1968 novel A Gift From Earth. Here's how it works:
The remnants of the shaping balloon, which gave all architectural coral buildings their telltale bulge, had been carefully scraped away...
...A genetic manipulation of ordinary sea coral, it was the cheapest building material known. The only real cost was in the plastic balloon that guided the growth of the coral and enclosed the coral's special air-borne food.
(Read more about Larry Niven's architectural coral)
The article continues by pointing out the advantages of using a natural material like timber to construct buildings; skyscrapers as tall as 14 stories have been constructed.
Wouldn't it be easier to grow them? Take a look at this article on the house trees if the Iszic. If you want to go all natural, Dr. Oren, this is the way to go.
Via The University of Cambridge; thanks to (((Æthelind))) for pointing this item out.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/14/2016)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Life imitates art imitates life.
Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...' - Clifford Simak, 1952.
Seasteading Floating Cities
'It was a remarkable island, circular, about half a kilometer in diameter.' - Otfrid von Hanstein, 1930.
Aequoreas Floating Village 3D Printed From Ocean Junk
'... the Floating Island chain of independent international corporate entities.' - Larry Niven, 2000.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'
Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.
Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'
How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'
PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'
Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.
Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.
International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'
Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.
IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'
ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.'
LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'
Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."
Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'
DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories