I am a postdoctoral associate at Yale University engaged in translational research in the fields of plant biology and neuroscience. My current work focuses on understanding fundamental biological mechanisms and their translation and practical application to animal and human biology. A logical extension of my current work is understanding biological design and its applications to other fields, including biomimicry, medicine, architecture, engineering, and systems design.
Those seem like good options. I would also suggest areas like driveways, parking lots, or even basements in areas that are prone to flooding. With regards to combining Grind materials with soil, they may end up serving a similar function as perlite/vermiculite, rather than the clay aggregate you mentioned. Which specific Grind materials were you thinking of?
I would also encourage you to think about WHY green spaces are so good at absorbing water. One way is by using layers of different materials to serve different functions. Additionally, green spaces erode less quickly than man-made products. Here is a link to a case study Biomimicry 3.8 did for a client working in a monsoon-heavy area, with a pdf link at the bottom: https://biomimicry.net/our-work/monsoon-proof-masterplan/
In the pdf you see that in monsoon-heavy areas (with up to 27 feet of rainfall), leaves in the canopy above the forest floor help to dissipate the energy of the falling water droplets, leading to less erosion. This also helps to slow the total amount of water that's absorbed at one time.
Interesting idea. Current “sponge cities” use "natural" sponges such as greenery, rain gardens, or bioswales. Using these has multiple benefits, the main one being longevity. They are oftentimes self-maintaining, and can last for several decades. Additionally, having green spaces around a city has been shown to have multiple health benefits.
For your sponge city mats, I believe you will need to show that they are either more beneficial than using “natural” sponges, or that your mats can be used in places where greening a space is not an option.
Three main points to consider: 1) Which materials will be in your absorbing layer? What is their permeability/absorbency rate? 2) Make sure the product won’t leech chemicals (EVA, glues, etc) back into the water after absorbing. 3) What is the longevity of the mats? Can they handle multiple rounds of soaking and drying for decades, or will they need to be replaced after only a few cycles? Can the material be recycled again after?
I should also mention that this isn’t biomimicry per se, as is it’s simply attempting to copy something nature does, but not how it does it. If you want to improve your design, look into examples of how nature absorbs/evaporates water so well (using different materials, layers of different sized materials, etc).
Thanks, that would be great! I feel the next stage of my design process would greatly benefit from insider knowledge of the automotive industry. I have been contacting several manufacturers and suppliers, but a direct contact would be most helpful!
With the examples I presented above, I mentioned the woodpecker skull for impact absorption for foam to be used in car doors and dashboards. Foam is also used for the underlying carpeting on car floors, and there are several biomimicry examples for soundproofing and temperature control that could be used.
Additionally, there are several possibilities for waterproofing/self-cleaning surfaces for rubber for the car interior, as well as the tires and the rubber blades of windshield wipers.