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How Nature is Influencing the Future of Heating and Cooling

homeowner-300x224At R.S. Andrews, we are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest happenings in our field. As luck would have it, we live in a very revolutionary time for the HVAC industry right now, with new ideas and products constantly being churned out. While many of these technologies are still years from being available in the average home, we like to keep an eye on the innovations that are making heating, cooling, and plumbing technology more efficient, cheaper, and better for the environment.

Recently, many companies and researchers are looking towards nature’s engineering solutions as inspirations for how or what to create for our own systems. This process is called “biomimicry” and it means exactly what it sounds like; it mimics biology, copying the structures that animals use to solve problems and incorporating them into our own technology.

Today we figured it would be fun to offer our readers a look into some of the ways that nature’s influence is molding the future of heating, cooling, and plumbing.

Termite Mounds

Termite mounts have long been studied due to their efficiency at keeping a stable temperature inside despite soaring temperatures outside. These massive mounds are often found in some of the hottest parts of Africa, yet they are able to remain cool on their interiors. While scientists are still studying how the termites have managed to do this with their constructions, it is generally believed that termites use a method called “passive cooling”. Scientists believe this involves air pockets and pores in the walls of the mud mound that allow for a constant movement of air, which regulates the temperature. This technique has been applied by human engineers at the Eastgate Complex in Zimbabwe with great success.

Whale’s Flippers

The Humpback whale has long been a somewhat unique animal in nature due to the fact that the bumps on its large flippers are on what was generally regarded as the “wrong side” (aerodynamically speaking). Many believed the bumps were simply barnacles or other insignificant growths until biologist Dr. Frank Fish questioned this idea. What he found out during his research was that these bumps (called tubercles) actually created a vortex in the water flow that prevents it from  from separating and stalling.

The research has since been applied to wind turbines with fantastic results. The fan blades made with the tubercles, mimicking the humpback’s fins, managed to generate 25% more air while using 20% less energy than their traditional counterparts. Needless to say, the technology is quickly expanding and being using in many different types of commercial and private structures.


Some companies, such as PAX Scientific, have managed to create fans and water purification products based on logarithmic geometrical patterns they found in tornadoes, whirlpools, and moving liquid. The process is called the “Streamlining Principle”, and was devised by scientists to give the natural flow of things (such as air and water) a geometric pattern which can then be applied to a number of different products. The scientists at PAX say that they have been able to create fans with these patterns that produce lower turbulence and have much higher efficiency than normal fans do.

These are just a few of the fascinating advances being made that will eventually impact how HVAC systems are designed and implemented in the future – there are sure to be more and more innovations like these popping up over the coming years. But if you have questions about your air conditioning system right now, just call R.S. Andrews today – our expert techs have been serving the Atlanta area for over 40 years, and we still plan to be your go-to service company 40 years from now (when your house just might be getting cooled by termite-based technology)!


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