Termites Are Teaching Architects How To Cut Out Air Conditioning

Buildings that resemble termite mounds are being created by architects in an effort to save cooling and heating expenses. A recent research that appeared in the journal Frontiers detailed a technique that might significantly advance architecture.

The concept was developed after careful examination of specific termite species that use a particular fungus as their main food source. The termite mounds must maintain a constant temperature of 87° F at all times since the fungus that develops there is temperature-sensitive.

The specific process by which the temperature is controlled is still up for discussion, but the authors of a recent research published in the journal Frontiers think they have the solution (for a certain species). They believe that the mounds behave something like a lung when combined with the tunnels and connected underground nest.

Although their explanation is extremely detailed, the fundamental premise is that the wind efficiently forces air through the little mound and exchanges it through a complicated network of tunnels.

The paper’s authors have already begun to consider how they may significantly reduce heating and cooling expenses by utilizing the beautiful design life developed in artificial walls.

The Most Recent Biomimicry Example Is Termite Mound-Inspired Walls

To perfect itself, life has had billions of years of continuous evolution. Though by no means flawless, evolution has produced countless ingenious solutions to a wide range of issues. It is also especially effective in enhancing specific characteristics that influence a life form’s general fitness.

Innovative and brilliant people frequently draw inspiration from already existing living things. This process generates some very apparent concepts, such as solar panels that resemble plant leaves.

Others are considerably less visible, such copying the shape of termite mounds to construct a naturally cool structure or creating velcro from the sticky burrs of burdock plants. The same is true for biotech corporations, who frequently try to emulate the workings of biological things.

Insights from termite mounds were used by one architect to create a significant product. With heating and cooling vents modeled after those found in termite mounds, Mick Pearce designed the Eastgate Building in Harare, Zimbabwe. The building now only requires a minor amount of heating during the winter and no air conditioning during the summer.

The Termite Mound Design: Why Is It So Important?

Because structures modeled after termite mounds will require far less heating and cooling, the invention might significantly reduce power bills for people all around the world. Americans spend $73 billion annually on space heating alone, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

Due to its high energy requirements, air conditioning is also highly costly. US homes reportedly spend close to $30 billion a year on only air conditioning, according to the Department of Energy. Air conditioning uses 12% of all domestic energy, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Since air conditioners are only commonplace in the US and a few other nations, this is probably only the beginning. In a survey published by the International Energy Association (IEA), it was said that by the year 2050, there would be 5.6 billion air conditioners installed worldwide, up from the current figure of 1.6 billion.

Making air conditioners more efficient was another topic covered in the IEA study. It was calculated that setting efficiency standards for AC units alone might result in savings of up to $2.9 trillion.

It may actually save trillions of dollars if the termite-inspired design gains traction and significantly lowers the amount of cooling required. The impact it would have on climate change isn’t even taken into account in that.

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