Scientists and bioengineers have been creating artificial bones and eggshells in hopes that they will become our building materials of the future reports CityLab's Linda Poon. They've been studying how processes found in nature can combat climate change and lead to more sustainable cities through a process called "biomimicry."
“The natural world and ecological system are maybe the best picture for what a sustainable world looks and performs like,” says Erin Rovalo, a senior principal of design at the consulting firm Biomimicry 3.8. “And if our built environment can function like these ecosystems, maybe that's the pinnacle of what sustainable design can be.”
These scientists hope that the building materials they're working on will be stronger than traditional concrete or steel. The concrete industry accounts for as much as 10 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions due to the high temperature needed to produce it, but the natural materials only require room or body temperature.
Bones and eggshells also have the advantage of being strong: Bone is stronger than steel on a ounce-by-ounce basis, and eggshells are hard to crack open yet are also lightweight. That’s owed to their makeup of minerals and proteins. Minerals make bones stiff and resistant to breaking on a per-weight basis, while the protein makes them lightweight.