Saturday, July 02, 2005

Mercedes-Benz Goes Biomimetic

From via TriplePundit, news of Mercedes-Benz's latest concept vehicle, which is modeled on the boxfish:

Why, out of all things in nature, did the engineers choose this animal?

Despite its boxy, cube-shaped body, this tropical fish is in fact outstandingly streamlined and therefore represents an aerodynamic ideal. With an accurately constructed model of the boxfish the engineers in Stuttgart were able to achieve a wind drag coefficient of just 0.06 in the wind tunnel....

The boxfish, ... is also a prime example of rigidity and light weight. Its skin consists of numerous hexagonal, bony plates which provide maximum strength with minimal weight and effectively protect the animal from injury.

DaimlerChrysler researchers examined this bionic structure and transferred this principle to the Mercedes-Benz bionic car study with the help of a special calculation process. The process is based on the principles of bone formation and for instance allows up to 40 percent more rigidity to be achieved in the external door panelling than would be possible with conventional designs. If the entire bodyshell is calculated according to this bionic principle, the total weight is reduced by around one third with undiminished strength and crash safety.
The results?
In addition to superb aerodynamics and a lightweight construction concept derived from nature, the 103 kW/140-hp diesel engine and innovative SCR technology (Selective Catalytic Reduction) greatly contribute to fuel economy and a further reduction in exhaust emissions. In the EU driving cycle the concept car has a fuel consumption of 4.3 litres per 100 kilometres – 20 less than a comparable series-production car. In accordance with the US measuring method (FTP 75) the range is around 70 miles per US gallon (combined), which is about 30 percent more than for a standard-production car. At a constant speed of 90 km/h the direct-injection diesel unit consumes only 2.8 litres per 100 kilometres– corresponding to a range of 84 miles per gallon in the US test cycle.
The concept car will make its debut at this year's DaimlerChrysler Innovation Symposium in Washington.

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Buy Janine M. Benyus' Biomimicry: Innovation Insprired by Nature at