Nature4Nature creates a knowledge environment for Doctoral Candidates (DCs) to tackle the conceptual, methodological and practical challenges of bioinspiration and sets out to accomplish three objectives:
• To inspire – Providing DCs with new tools and a mindset to harness biodiversity in a synergistic manner could substantially increase the scope of technological innovation.
• To integrate – Equipping DCs with theoretical knowledge and experimental skills to provide a better understanding of biological complexity and its evolution, and to facilitate the transfer of biological principles to engineering designs and applications, prepares them for successful integration in an interdisciplinary innovation team.
• To implement – Endowing DCs with a wide range of competences to implement bioinspired technologies in an inherently sustainable way. Understanding the expectations of the industry and public perceptions is the key to success in bioinspiration.
Nature4Nature uses biological filtration as a model system to achieve the research and training objectives. Nature’s great diversity in filtration mechanisms has provided us with an exceptional opportunity to address the challenges of bioinspiration with respect to (i) inspiring novel designs based on biodiversity; (ii) integrating biological principles and concepts into engineering and design sciences; and (iii) implementing bioinspired innovation in a nature-friendly fashion (see figure). Various organisms have evolved the ability to process large volumes of water in an energetically efficient way and feed on the filtered particles. The filtration systems of animals are vastly superior to current engineered solutions for solid-liquid separation due to their resistance to clogging (Sanderson et al. 2016; Divi et al. 2018). Fouling of filters is a major hindrance to their use in industrial processes, because it inhibits continuous, high-throughput filtration, and replacement or cleaning of filter surfaces leads to high expenses and waste products (Jaffrin 2012). Fundamentally novel hydrodynamic mechanisms of clog-resistant crossflow filtration have recently been described for the oral cavities of filter-feeding vertebrate animals (Sanderson et al. 2016; Divi et al. 2018). These scientific breakthroughs have immense potential to inspire the development of nature-friendly technologies, since non-clogging, high-throughput filtration could be the solution to one of the most pressing environmental problems facing humanity: (micro)plastic pollution of aquatic ecosystems (Padervand et al. 2020).
Overview of the bioinspiration process showing the various steps and the role of each ESR in the project.
Inserts adapted from Brooks et al., 2018 Plos One; Sanderson et al., 2016 Nature Communications