Unearthing ecological wisdom from natural habitats and its ramifications on development of biocement and sustainable cities
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© 2016 Elsevier B.V.As the world population migrates to the urban areas in increasingly greater numbers, building and maintaining urban infrastructure in a sustainable fashion is a great challenge. Present construction technologies use too much material and energy and produces huge quantities of greenhouse gases. Nature, on the other hand, has been building habitats such as ant hills, coral reefs and silk webs that has been sheltering billions of species for millions of years in a sustainable way. The ecological wisdom embodied in these high-performance prototypes may give us clues to sustainable urban infrastructure. In this paper we highlight some of the amazing ecologically wise natural habitats. Although many amazing natural examples have been recently highlighted, emulating them in engineering practice has remained a challenge. One of the most promising biological processes that are closest to human adaptation is biomineralisation by which living organisms produce minerals, chiefly carbonate products that offer strength to bones, shells and antlers. With the help of some microorganisms, it is possible to produce and deposit minerals (e.g. calcium carbonate) and emulate some of the biological processes such as formation of corals. This paper briefly discusses biomineralisation technology. The present status of application of the technology in urban infrastructure has been summarised.
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