Air Conditioning Biomimicry: Taking Cues from Mother Nature

As much as most people want to have cool, laid back weather every day of the year, in the natural order of things, it’s simply impossible. Many try their best to come up with different methods to cool themselves in the hottest of seasons. In Sydney, Australia, for example, some resort to taking a dip at the beach while others prefer to have air conditioning service in their homes. When it comes to air conditioning, humanity takes cues only from the best source of cooling ideas—Mother Nature.

Nothing beats the way the environment cools itself.For centuries, without the technological advancements that society has now, animals have still managed to cool themselves using only what they knew by instinct. Inspired by the environment’s natural design, scientists use a system called biomimicry. They emulate the governing natural systems and apply them to modern technology.


Big termite mounds in Africa are a great example of cooling and ventilation systems. Over the years, scientists have been astounded by the efficiency of the African termites. They have managed to thrive in the blistering heat of the African sun. When they made a closer analysis of their habitat, they found out that their mound, made up entirely of thick mud, plays an important part in their survival.

Inside their “mud house,” the termites make use of an air pocket system.This means that in various parts of the mud infrastructure, they carve out cavities to allow natural ventilation to drive through the whole mound.The largest office and shopping complex in Zimbabwe, Eastgate Centre, is patterned after the termite mound’s architecture. The complex harnesses the air coming in for cooling. The building uses natural convection currents to circulate the cool air.


Conventional industrial-scale heating and cooling systems use a heat transmission method called shell and tube heat exchanger. One fluid runs through the inner tube and another through a series of tubes that comprise the outer shell. Engineers use this method to efficiently transfer heat between two fluids.

In the natural world, birds are perhaps the master of heat transfer. The veins and arteries in their extremities work just like the industrial shell and tube. During the colder temperature, the heat transfers from their wings and feet to the avian core. Conversely, the process allows them to cool the body much faster in hotter seasons.

When it comes to cooling and heating, society can learn a thing or two from nature. Biomimicry does not only allow humanity to make use of what is at hand but also lets people understand the environment more. Air conditioning maintenance will be much easier if people knew the principles behind the science of cooling.

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