Biomimicry in Engineering

Good morning EUROAVIAns,
in today’s Fact Friday we talk about biomimicry in engineering.

Biomimicry is a study that solves human problems with models, systems and elements of nature. Living beings have evolved multiple times by creating structures and mechanisms which are efficient and well-built, so when we build or design something we can be inspired by nature and implement characteristics of animals or plants into our project.

Biomimicry is also being used in aviation; one of the companies which have studied a lot of biomimicry solutions for their aircraft is Airbus. They invented a new prototype of wings capable of flexing and reacting to wind gust. The project is inspired by the flying technique of the albatross and consists of a semi-aeroelastic hinged wing tip. This implementation can bring a lot of positive effects to the plane: it reduces wing load and drag, combats the effect of turbulence and avoids tip stall during landing. They did testing on a small scale remote controlled aircraft.

Airbus also developed a system based on migrating birds. These animals travel behind each other to save energy and to take advantage of the stream of air created by the bird in front. This new approach is called Fello’Fly and can be used on real planes by using the smooth updrafts created from the wing. However, there must be a well coordinated system to keep the second plane at the required distance to use the wake of the first plane. This method of flying can lead to an important reduction of the emission while travelling long trips.

Another example of biomimicry is the study on the drag reduction of the shark skin. This type of skin has longitudinal ridges on it that make the flow of water stay in a laminar pattern resulting in faster speed of the water near the shark. This effect decreases the speed difference between the nearby surface and the fluid flow and so it decreases the drag force.