Biomimetic file 181: Electronics Fungal Processing

How changing the form of a problem can lead the path to business solutions

big_thumb_57cdd9b81573a02e5c5540ac4b26ac9cPicture source: stockfreeimages.com  

Highlight: “The American Chemical Society has revealed how fungi can extract valuable materials from batteries that would otherwise go to waste…The batteries in smartphones and laptops, particularly the cathodes, contain a lot of lithium and cobalt. Methods exist to recycle these elements, but they are currently more expensive than mining new material… Consequently, a lot of old phones end up in landfill, while Earth’s reserves are depleted. Without recycling, cobalt shortages, in particular, could represent a limitation on battery production and the shift to clean energy…Professors at the University of South Florida, have put three species of fungi to work, drawing on the chemicals they release to extract metals at an affordable price…Batteries are too solid for the fungi to get at them without assistance, so the team dismantled the battery and pulverized the cathodes… This is a cheap process compared to the high-temperature activity currently required. Then the fungis’ organic acids go to work…”

Insight:  In this particular battery recycling case using Fungi, in order for the process to effectively work the cathodes have first to be pulverized and turned into powder form. It is the same product which presented into a different form allows the key process to work…

An important lesson can be learn from this process: when faced with seemingly unsolvable situations, sometimes all it takes is to reshuffle the problem and to find a different way to tackle it. Presenting the same problem differently can often reveal a hidden path towards a solution; it is a simple statement with yet fundamental implications in business and personal life.

The art of knowing when to reshuffle is one that is key both in solution solving and in time management. Are you stuck with a problem? If so, perhaps consider looking at it from a different perspective…

More information here

What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species or natural systems on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…

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Biomimetic file 166: Nanobots and the power of healing

Why apparent corporate dysfunctions are not always the root of the problem and how to address the issue

shutterstock_309308330Image: Small “robots” which are actually particles made of both gold and platinum. source: arleksey/Shutterstock. Troubleshooting* is a form of problem solving, often applied to repair failed products or processes on a machine or a system. It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem in order to solve it, and make the product or process operational again. Troubleshooting is needed to identify the symptoms.

Highlight: “A new study published in the journal Nano Letters may represent that next big leap in the nanoscale world: Researchers have revealed how they have created incredibly small robots that automatically heal fractures and cracks. They showcased their new nanoscopic critters fixing broken electronic circuits, but they could also be adapted to repair tears in biological systems – including our own…Such a nanomotor-based repair system represents an important step toward the realization of biomimetic nanosystems that can autonomously sense and respond to environmental changes…this has a wide range of applications, from self-healing electronics to targeted drug delivery…for instance folded DNA segments used to make 3D structures could be made to dynamically change shape and attack tumors. Some of these origami structures can be used as Trojan Horses that can infiltrate drug-resistant leukemia cells and kill them from the inside.”

Insight: With the introduction of new nanoscale technologies the term “healing from the inside” is about to take an entire new meaning. Every instant, complex processes are happening around us at a very small scale, should it be in the form of molecules interacting with one another or internal organ processes. By communicating with the micro processes at the very heart of body functions we will soon be able to prevent or heal certain developing diseases at the source.

This practice could really revolutionize the health industry allowing a shift from a therapeutic approach to one that is more preventive. Much can be learn from feedback and self regulating mechanisms found in natural systems which could be a research field in itself…

This case study can be applied to business: often businesses suffer from visible malfunctions and the common approach is to resolve these problems first. However, like a poorly treated illness (e.g. a rough caught treated as a pneumonia when it is actually lung cancer) solving the apparent visible problems does not necessarily solve the problem altogether which is likely to reoccur after a period of time. Instead, perhaps a better alternative is to spend the necessary time to troubleshoot* what is really causing the issue which could be well hidden behind processes and to resolve this issue first before tackling the more visible materialization of the problem…

For instance lets imagine the following scenario: A chemical treatment plant operates under strict fire safety procedures and certain manufacturing lines are fitted with sensitive smoke detectors because some chemicals used in the processes are highly flammable.  Shortly after the installation of a very costly automated manufacturing machine a recurrent problem starts to occur affecting the entire production: the fire sensors keep on going on which triggers the auto-stop response on the machine located in this room. After several triggers, the managers investigate and come up with the rapid conclusion that the machine overheats melting some plastic components which trigger the fire alarms. They make this conclusion because they find out that a similar problem was reported with this machine in another part of the world. Pressured by the direction to quickly solve the problem they decide to order a new machine. After installation the problem starts again and a new more experienced team is tasked with the investigation. The real verdict quickly comes out: outside of the building is a narrow corridor which some of the employees use as an unauthorized smoking break, the smoke gets into the air capture vents and circulates in the ventilation system until it comes out inside this specific room. While this shouldn’t normally cause a problem, because of the very sensitive nature of the fire detectors in this room, it is still enough to trigger the response. The outcome of the story is that a very simple problem (unauthorized smoking combined with a specific ventilation design) was misdiagnosed with a complex technical problem. This error has cost the company many millions, delayed production and affected the companies’ reputation…

Are you facing technical problems? If so, perhaps do not jump to the obvious conclusion and take the necessary time to be sure beyond doubt what is the real cause of the problem. Failure to identify the real source of a problem can become time consuming and an expensive mistake…

More information: here

What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…

bluestrike logo

www.bluestrike-group.com