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Innovative Reforestation Wins Ray of Hope Prize

The Atlantic rainforest in Brazil is a unique ecosystem. June 1, 2017 (Photo by Ulrich Peters) Creative commons license via Flickr

The Atlantic rainforest in Brazil is a unique ecosystem. June 1, 2017 (Photo by Ulrich Peters) Creative commons license via Flickr.

By Sunny Lewis

SAN RAFAEL, California, October 23, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – A Brazilian team of entrepreneurs has won the $100,000 Ray C. Anderson Foundation 2018 Ray of Hope Prize for the Nucleário Planting System, an all-in-one reforestation solution that mimics elements of natural forest progression to reduce maintenance costs and improve seedling survival rates.

With deforestation contributing an estimated 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, countries, nonprofit organizations and innovators are mobilizing to quickly restore foreststo avoid catastrophic climate change.

Developed for the use in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest, Nucleário was designed for multiple functions – collecting rain and dew water, providing protection from leaf cutter ants and invasive species, supplying shade for the seedling, and deployment from the air.

Applied in the field, the Nucleário Planting System makes the forest restoration process simpler and more cost-effective. With this method, Nucleário can get more trees in the ground in less time, helping make it possible to achieve environmental goals like the Paris Agreement on climate.

Nucleário was created by Bruno Rutman Pagnoncelli, Pedro Rutman Pagnoncelli, and Bruno Ferrari. The Nucleário team was awarded the prize at the National Bioneers Conference in San Rafael on Saturday, October 20.

The Ray of Hope Prize is the top award in the Biomimicry Launchpad, an accelerator program run by the Biomimicry Institute that supports entrepreneurs working to bring early-stage biomimetic, or nature-inspired, climate change solutions to market.

Traditional rain forest restoration approaches in remote areas are logistically complex and expensive, requiring manual work and periodic visits to the reforestation areas.

Currently, 17 million hectares (14.2 million acres) of degraded areas are designated as potential lands for Atlantic forest restoration in Brazil.

Inspired by winged seeds, bromeliads, and forest leaf litter, Nucleário is a reforestation solution for forests in degraded and hard to reach areas, helping seedlings grow without human maintenance.

Made of biodegradable materials, the Nucleário device ensures that seedlings survive by providing a protection from leaf cutter ants, collecting water from rain and dew, offering shade, and protecting against invasive species.

Like anemochory seeds, the Nucleário is structured to be weightless and incorporate air chambers, which allows it to act as both a glider and parachute and enables aerial deployment.

Each Nucleário contains a functional group of tree species ready to germinate. Inspired by the bromeliad’s hydraulic specialization, the Nucleário trap shape accumulates dew and rain water and reduces evaporation, slowly hydrating the seedlings during the dry seasons. The water accumulation also attracts biodiversity.

The Nucleário shape emulates the leaf litter in a forest, stopping the Brachiaria grass growth around the seedling and protecting the soil against leaching and strong sunlight, which elevates soil moisture and fertility.

In the field, the Nucleário improves the working conditions of the planting teams and reduces costs for labor, transport, irrigation, fertilizers and insecticides.

It mimics how bromeliads collect water from rain and dew to provide a microclimate that attracts biodiversity.

“This simple but impactful biomimicry-inspired innovation has the potential to transform reforestation efforts and help reverse global warming,” said John Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation.

“The six judges were impressed with all of the teams, but the Nucleário stood out because they have a clear understanding of the path to commercialization,” said Lanier.

Brazil is one of the main producers and exporters of agricultural products, with more than 300 million hectares destined to agriculture, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. But this sector is also responsible for tons of carbon in the atmosphere, warming the planet.

The Brazilian government has said it intends to reforest 12 million hectares by 2030, as a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

A set of studies by the Center for Sustainability Studies of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation and Instituto Escolhas calculated the resources needed to achieve this goal. The estimated investment cost was $31 billion Brazilian Reals (€7.9 billion) (US$8.3 billion).

Beth Rattner, Biomimicry Institute executive director, said, “30 by 30 – land use being 30 percent of climate change solutions by 2030 – is the most promising news on the horizon because it is highly feasible. Reforestation is a real part of this plan and yet most efforts on this front are failing because young saplings need extra help to survive.”

“Nucleário has captured proven strategies straight from the forest to make their product, which is something no one else has tried before,” said Rattner. “We are immensely hopeful about the impact this will have.”

A $25,000 Ray of Hope second prize, funded by an anonymous donor, went to a team with members from Mexico and the United States, who created Biomimicry Launchpad, a thermal management system that harvests waste heat from large commercial buildings and cycles it back into the system.

The BioThermosmart design was inspired by elephants, crocodiles, toucan beaks, and the human circulatory system to create a system of heat transfer patches that help facility directors manage excess heat.

A total of six international teams spent the past year in the Biomimicry Launchpad, the world’s only accelerator for early-stage, nature-inspired innovations.

The Launchpad is part of the Biomimicry Institute’s Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, a global competition sponsored by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation that asks innovators to create radically sustainable climate change solutions inspired by the natural world.

As winners of the Challenge, these teams were invited to join the Biomimicry Launchpad to get support in testing and prototyping their ideas, with the ultimate goal of bringing their climate change solutions to market.

A new round of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge has just launched, focused again on finding nature-inspired climate-change solutions. It is a new opportunity for teams to join and compete for the annual $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize®. Individuals and teams can learn more about the Challenge at challenge.biomimicry.org.

Featured Image: The Nucleário Planting Device is a winner. (Photo by Nucleário Planting System) Posted for media use


Mimicking Nature to Defeat Climate Change

The free Cool Down B'More bus takes potentially overheated Baltimore residents to cooling centers. (Screengrab from video by Mimi Yang)

The free Cool Down B’More bus takes potentially overheated Baltimore residents to cooling centers. (Screengrab from video by Mimi Yang)

ATLANTA, Georgia, July 20, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Five teams of entrepreneurs from around the world have been chosen to participate in the newest cohort of the world’s only business accelerator program dedicated to bringing nature-inspired solutions to market.

These five winning solutions were selected from nearly 100 entries from 28 countries. All the teams entered the 2017 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, answering the call to apply biomimicry, nature-inspired design, to develop solutions to reverse or adapt to climate change.

A team from Mexico City has created Thermosmart, an approach that mimics the circulatory systems of elephants and alligators to boost efficiency in the heating and cooling of high-rise commercial buildings.

Another team from Bogotá, Colombia has invented Cooltiva, a system that takes advantage of the wind and the sun to regulate temperatures inside city residences using minimal energy.

A third team from Baltimore, Maryland has created Cool Down B’More, a network that connects low-income communities to designated cool spaces via an affordable transportation system. They did it by emulating the mechanisms of blue crab and bay grass and their mutual relationship within the ecosystem of Chesapeake Bay, on the U.S. Atlantic coast.

A fourth team from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has used winged seeds, bromeliads and forest leaf litter as the inspiration for Nucleário, a reforestation solution designed for remote and hard-to-reach areas of the Atlantic rain forest.

And a fifth team from Taipei, Taiwan looked to the ways that living organisms like baleen whales and African violet leaves collect micro particles to create Refish, a device that can be attached to vehicles to collect fine particulate matter right on the road without the need for electricity and motors to pump air as used in conventional air purifiers.

The winning teams will receive a cash prize and an invitation to enter the 2017-18 Biomimicry Accelerator, where they will spend the next year working with biomimicry and business mentors to prototype and test their designs.

The Biomimicry Accelerator experience culminates in the $100,000 Ray C. Anderson Foundation Ray of Hope Prize.

The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge is an annual competition that asks teams of students and professionals to address critical global issues with nature-inspired solutions. The challenge is hosted by the Biomimicry Institute , in partnership with the Ray C. Anderson Foundation.

The Ray C. Anderson Foundation has pledged $1.5 million over four years to support the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, a multi-year effort to crowdsource, support, and seed promising innovations inspired by nature.

Each year, the Institute and Foundation award the $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize to the most viable prototype that embodies the radical sustainability principles of biomimicry.

The winning team will demonstrate the most viable biomimetic solution, including a functioning prototype, a tested business model, and customer validation.

The Ray of Hope Prize honors the legacy of Interface Founder and Chairman Ray Anderson, who funded the foundation upon his passing in 2011. Anderson was inspired by new approaches to centuries-old design and manufacturing techniques, and used them in his $1 billion, global carpet tile company. Anderson was known for his progressive policies on industrial ecology and sustainability.

There is also a student category in the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge that offers cash prizes.

In the student category, the first-place winner is a team from California Polytechnic State University who designed a plant-inspired system that can be applied along freeways and main streets to capture and scrub carbon.

The second-place student team, from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, created a compostable patch that generates electricity by absorbing heat, inspired by the structure of the silk moth cocoon.

The third place winner in the student category is a team with members from the National Technical University of Athens, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and the Technical University of Crete who emulated coral calcification to create a design that sequesters carbon dioxide from the sea.

“Accelerating the path from idea to prototype to marketplace is our goal,” said John Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. “And we are excited about the potential for this new cohort to demonstrate viable and innovative solutions to our climate crisis.”

The goal is to show how biomimicry, one of “Fortune” magazine’s five business “Trends to ride in 2017,” can provide viable solutions to the current climate crisis.

Biomimicry Institute Executive Director Beth Rattner said, “This is what our Ray C. Anderson Foundation partnership makes possible, bringing these teams’ ideas from concept to functioning prototypes that are ready for field testing.”

A new round of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge will open in October 2017, also focused on climate change solutions. This will be another opportunity for teams to join and compete for the $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize. Individuals and teams can learn more about the challenge at challenge.biomimicry.org.

Videos from each of the five winning teams are found on vimeo.com.


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Featured Images: Elephant in South Africa’s Sibuya Game Reserve, 2010. In hot conditions, elephants increase blood flow to the skin, creating areas that dissipate heat. (Photo by Jon Mountjoy) Creative commons license via Flickr