Replicating the quintessential mechanisms adopted by components of nature for habitation ranging from micro-organisms, plants and terrestrial animals can give the civil engineering world an empirical formula to enter a dimension of what I call SUSTAINVIRONMENT – a perfect blend of environmentally aligned sustainable development of the world.
The best possible methodology I suggest is paradoxically – ‘COPY’ in a scientific language it is called BIOMIMICRY. Copy – not what the Americans do, not what Chinese do but copy what the nature is doing to evolve. A too much of technical, systematic and a populous conventional system of civil engineering has maintained the factor of safety but reduced the factor of innovation as compared to other fields of engineering.
In an area like African region having peculiar characteristics of temperature condition, the most disturbing insect to human provides a phenomenally easy mechanism of efficient ventilation for our buildings. The temperature there ranges from 35 degrees F at night till 104 degree F in afternoon.
A termite mound is a soil composed structure made by termites which has a height from 0.5 m till 3.5 m on an average. The construction process includes primarily forming a fully packed mound and then creating vents with concept of Venturi effect (to increase velocity of flow of air) from bottom of mound till its peak as well as creating habitable space within (fungal gardens). In its natural state the soil around and below has a certain degree of saturation thus having a temperature lower than outside. The hot air thus enters these vents and as it moves through the vents created underground a passive cooling activity takes place in which an equilibrium temperature is tried to achieve thus drastically reducing the temperature of hot air and due to Venturi effect the cooled air moves up providing an apt temperature for habitation of termites throughout the mound even at 104 degree F. Similarly at night the vents are closed by termites and the air is contained to keep the mound warm.
To replicate this as a working mechanism where the inlet vent is replaced by a tall chimney with its inlet provided with air suckers through which the hot air is let in and moves down where the vents in saturated soils are replaced with a steel pipe rolled in many layers (to increase the surface area of contact) and immersed in a underground water tank with a storage of comparatively colder water thus due to convection (heat transfer mechanism) the heat of hot air is transferred through the metal pipe into the water and the temperature is of air is cooled due to equilibrium condition. The air is moved up similarly like it’s moved in mound but using a single central duct with the Venturi effect. Now as the building in divided in number of floors outlet of the cool air is provided at each floor and air is provided at each corner of room with the centralized system. Due to stagnation and the process of exhalation by the people which is an exothermic process the air again becomes warmer and as we know the warmer air raises higher thus outlets are provided near the lintel level creating space for incoming air and this process of optimal circulation of air continues.
No air conditioners are used thus there is very high degree saving of energy. The cost of maintenance as well as energy is reduced. No harmful emission of gases through air conditioners as only natural air is used thus it’s an environment friendly proposal.
This logical thinking ,awareness of the natural process of habitation will make our environment more sustainable and construction less harmful thus the branch of civil engineering more innovative.
THE NATURE IS ALWAYS GIVING YOU ANSWERS, BE AWARE TO TAKE THEM.
NAME: PRASANNA R. PAKHARE
COLLEGE: SARASWATI COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING, KHARGHAR
YEAR: THIRD YEAR
AAKAAR aims at creating a platform to compete, learn and promote Civil Engineering amongst the education fraternity through Competitions, Events and ICES, IIT Bombay (research paper conference) and also to make a festival of all and for all the Civil Engineering students.