Polar Bear Solar Power at Bionik in Berlin


Opening 1 March in Berlin, the Bionik presents the newest developments in technologies which mimic great designs in nature. The Bionik will feature the Mercedes-Benz Bionic car, self-repairing fabrics, early warning systems for Tsunami, and solar power technology based on (well...why not?) polar bears.Polar bear solar power depends on the trick mother nature uses to keep polar bears warm. The engineered solution is a 20mm thick textile with white, air-trapping fibers stemming out of a black membrane. The white weave lets light pass through but provides excellent insulating properties to trap the warmth sucked in by the dark membrane below. The textiles exist in prototype and are capable of being industrially manufactured. The research is still pursuing the holy grail though. A much-debated theory holds that polar bear hair actually acts like fiber optic cables to direct UV radiation directly into the polar bear's black skin. Technology has not yet found a light-conductive fiber to equal this trick. Nonetheless, the current state-of-the-art provides a flexible material which lends itself to the imagination: smart clothing, light and easily manipulated building material, more efficient solar water heaters.

via Bionik 2006 (German only)
photo via W wie Wissen (German only)