Leveraging the inspiration of Nature

Jan. 1, 2012
Nature has always been a source of inspiration and resources to mankind, because throughout the ages, the natural environment has optimized solutions

Nature has always been a source of inspiration and resources to mankind, because throughout the ages, the natural environment has optimized solutions to issues with elegantly simple and sustainable designs.

Now, a new book by Elodie Ternaux called Industry of Nature: Another Approach to Ecology profiles some innovative engineering approaches to mimic nature for sustainable designs. Beautifully illustrated by Benjamin Gomez, its photographs and design descriptions show successful applications of techniques derived from nature to address challenges of adhesion, camouflage, aerodynamics, strength, electricity generation, transmission of information, and more. In fact, some of these solutions are already leveraged in human-engineered designs: Strong honeycomb materials are modeled after beehives; supramolecular materials now exhibit self-healing inspired by human skin; and the Eastgate Centre building in Zimbabwe has passive air conditioning — inspired by termite mounds — which requires no energy input.

Buy the book at or

About the author

Engineer and designer Elodie Ternaux is currently director of matériO, a center in Paris that provides information on innovative materials. Ternaux's experiences as a teacher convinced her of the value of publications for engineers covering new materials.

Inspired by oysters

Several years ago, Scottish company Aquamarine Power, headquartered in Edinburgh, developed their Oyster — a wave-powered mechanism that pushes high-pressure water to a traditional hydroelectric turbine onshore that outputs clean, sustainable electricity. Now, the company is installing its second full-scale Oyster wave-energy converter off the coast of Orkney, Scotland. The next phase of installation will see this Oyster being fixed to seabed piles 500 meters from shore. For more information, visit

Sponsored Recommendations

Pumps Push the Boundaries of Low Temperature Technology

June 14, 2024
As an integral part of cryotechnology, KNF pumps facilitate scientific advances in cryostats, allowing them to push temperature boundaries and approach absolute zero.

The entire spectrum of drive technology

June 5, 2024
Read exciting stories about all aspects of maxon drive technology in our magazine.


May 15, 2024
Production equipment is expensive and needs to be protected against input abnormalities such as voltage, current, frequency, and phase to stay online and in operation for the ...

Solenoid Valve Mechanics: Understanding Force Balance Equations

May 13, 2024
When evaluating a solenoid valve for a particular application, it is important to ensure that the valve can both remain in state and transition between its de-energized and fully...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!