Green entrepreneur Harman offers a trendy pitch for innovative green capitalism.
The author is the founder and CEO of PAX Scientific, a green corporation that specializes in engineering designs for “more-energy-efficient industrial equipment…based on nature's fluid flow geometries.” He suggests that corporations should increasingly look to nature for inspiration, as has the modern pharmaceutical industry—e.g., synthesizing the active ingredients found in quinine and penicillin. An early such example of biomimicry, writes Harman, was Archimedes' screw. Even something as mundane as barbed wire has a natural model in the use of “fencing woven from naturally occurring briars,” and the invention of “the hoop-and-loop structure” of Velcro was inspired by George de Mestral's annoyance at being attacked by burrs while hiking. At Cornell University, the long blades of wind turbines have been replaced by panels made from foam blocks that vibrate, creating a “vibro-wind” similar to tree leaves shaken by the wind. At the University of Maryland, they have created a “a mini, single-bladed, helicopter” based on the “single-winged samara seed." The author also discusses the advances made by his own company and makes the unsubstantiated claim that PAX fans are 50 percent more energy efficient than those of competitors. Would-be entrepreneurs will appreciate Harman's account of the difficulties he has experienced trying to find seed capital and to market his inventions, as well as his game plan for issuing common stock in order to attract “source money from angel investors.” The author is not shy about self-promotion: “Now I find myself credited with being among the first scientists to make biomimicry a cornerstone of modern future engineering.”
A useful update on recent developments in biomimicry and an intriguing case for innovative green technology that goes beyond sustainability.