:::: One-line Brief//
A floating bridge grows stronger with time.
:::: Inspiration from Nature//
Water bacteria (Caulobacter Crescentus) extend tiny holdfast structures that are stronger than the strongest man-made super glue.
:::: Problem Statement//
The under-water construction technologies (for projects like bridges) vary significantly from the construction technologies on land. However, the behavior of the structural forces and their corresponding structural systems remain the same. Conventionally, all man-made structural systems- despite their embedded tolerances- are designed to resist the forces of nature. The forces of nature amplify underwater so the resistive strength of the under-water structures is increased, but the perspective remains the same. Resist the forces of nature. If we dive a bit deeper into the underwater construction, we’ll find that the resistive strength of the underwater structures is increased by performing two things: 1. By reducing the drag through the design of the form and 2. by increasing the reinforcement of the material. Sir Richard Buckminster Fuller presented another perspective for construction. He emphasized the utilization of the forces instead of increasing the resistance against them. For Fuller then, water would possess an unfamiliar set of design opportunities that were perhaps not present on the land. Following his line of thought, a new kind of structural system is proposed here for developing a different kind of water bridge that would normally require an array of inundated columns. Since we are focusing on the forces of water, this bridge would not function on land. But on water, it would find its strength from the forces of nature.
:::: Nature Review//
A structural system based on using the forces of nature- instead of resisting them- is inspired by the aquatic bacteria, Caulobacter Crescentus. This remarkable species of bacteria has sticky ends at its ligaments. The sticky ends are tiny holdfast structures that have more adhesive power in water than man-made superglues. This capability of bacteria combined with the upward buoyancy of the water opens up new possibilities for the structural system of a bridge.
:::: Technology Review//
ULB-Brussels project called iGem Plates is possibly the most relevant research project in this regard. This project along with the developments in Molecular Glue and Bacterial Superglues proves that natural technology has already been mimicked to a great deal in the field of construction. There is a need, however, to explore new ways of integrating the existing technologies. The technology review of this nature gadget shows that the tidal and lateral forces of water encourage point-joint strategy instead of deep columns. These point joints could be used to connect different surfaces that remain afloat. Point joints combined with channels of molecular glue- that connect the different surfaces- could work like an unbreakable bridge of protein nanotechnology (please check out the web links under citation montage).
:::: Nature Gadget//
A modular bridge is envisioned where each module is a gas-filled equilateral triangle (1). The modular triangles join together to form a hexagonal grid (10). The aquatic molecular glue is injected at designated points on the grid. The glue of one module enters and grows roots into the adjacent module (11-14) like the holdfast endings of the bacteria. These innumerable microscopic connections generate a collective elasticity in the bridge that works in harmony with the forces of water (18-23).
The following technologies helped in designing the systems for this nature gadget.
Row1Column1: Closeup of Aquatic Bacteria (Caulobacter Crescentus)
Row1Column2: Bacteria Lifecycle and Evolution
Row1Column3: ULB-Brussels Project Diagram
Row1Column4: ULB-Brussels iGem Plates
Row2Column1: Asymmetric Division of Bacteria
Row2Column2: Molecular Glue by Danish Researchers
Row2Column3: Bacterial superglue
Row2Column4: Unbreakable Bridges for Protein Nanotechnology
Row3Column1: Underwater Bridge Footings Conventional Method
Row3Column2: Caisson Schematic
Row3Column3: Floating Country (Conceptual Project)
Row3Column4: Underwater City Concepts
Row4Column1: Water-Scraper (Conceptual Project)
Row4Column2: Landy Landfill (Conceptual Project)
Row4Column3: An Example of Underwater Adhesive and Sealant
Row4Column4: Underwater Smart Glue
Created by Umair Zia