Biomimicry Design Challenge

Biomimicry is a design approach, or even a life approach that helps us see and imitate the amazing functionalities that nature has been developing for around 3 billion years. Ideas Brocolis took part in the anual 2012-2013 Biomimicry Challenge organised by the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, where a new design was developed in order to reduce the poverty in the access to water throughout the World. What a better way to think on how to capture water than looking at how nature has been doing so for years and years!

Take a look at our final presentation of the project:

An international analysis of slums we conducted ourselves made us realize that slums are a worldwide phenomena with different geographical and climatic contexts, sizes, levels of infrastructure and environmental, social/ political problems. The slum we chose is Bhalsawa in Delhi, and to understand it better, we used the expertise of a former Delhi resident.


We then had to backcast from our vision

a sustainable future where water scarcity in the slums of Delhi is no longer an issue

The first recognition is that the product or system that we design would take us in the right direction towards that future, and stand as a platform for future development, not a catch-all solution.

The first step in this design process was discovering the organisms that were to inspire us. We analysed ten or so mechanisms from nature that provide a range of ways to fulfill the various needs for water: collection, purification and storage. We selected these organisms by how well they’d be able to thrive in our chosen biome, as well as selecting ones that provide a wide enough range of disparate techniques for dealing with water.

OrganismsI OrganismsIIOnce we selected an appropriate mechanism from nature, we started to come up with different concepts for designs by abstracting these mechanisms. Selecting a final concept was done after testing each concept we came up with against Life’s Principles and to the Strategic Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA, a Life Cycle Assessment guided by the four sustainability principles form The Natural Step).

The final result ended up being a portable personal water collection device for use by any individual with a standard threaded clear PET drinks bottle. The device fits on to the top of the bottle lined with a membrane that imitates the structure of the surface of a leek and a lichen. This membrane is hydrophobic and will direct captured rainfall and fog into the bottle. The BromBot consits of six plastic petals with different curvature; concave and convex. These petals lead the water towards a microperforated filter, that cleans it from substances. Once inside the bottle, this water can be made safe to drink through its exposure to UV-A radiation from the sun (six hours).

The device will be manufactured from fully recycled materials, particularly those available in the slum in question, and can be sold as a product service system (PSS). Waste plastics will be collected from the slum by its inhabitants, who will earn money from the plastic gathered. These plastics will then be sorted, and the appropriate plastics will be used to create the devices and can be resold to the inhabitants of the slum at cost.
Visualize the BromBot design process here:::

Leave a Comment