What is the problem your team addressed for this challenge and how is it related to climate change?
The purpose of this product is to help communities adapt to extreme cold brought on by climate change. The warming of the Arctic has caused a shift of harsh cold and heavy snowfall, as seen across the United States this past winter. This has been sudden and has had a large impact on many places not accustomed to such conditions. One consequence of this temperature shift has been the freezing and bursting of pipes which renders them useless. This has a significant impact, as pipes carry vital substances, such as water.
What does your design solution do? How does it solve or improve the problem you selected?
To combat this issue, we created an insulating cover to keep pipes above the freezing point. This design can be easily applied and removed from exposed pipes. The cover can effectively insulate pipes, in a temperature of at least -18.8oC. This cover will protect pipes from freezing and bursting, so they are unaffected by harsh conditions.
How was your solution inspired by nature? What organisms did you learn from and how did what you learned inform your design?
This design was inspired by the feathers and blubber of Emperor Penguins, which insulates them in subarctic temperatures as low as -40oC. Through research we found that Emperor Penguins feathers are arranged in a way that provides insulation. The structure of these feathers allow for the trapping of air. The layers of the feathers and blubber were mimicked using various materials. Many of the materials used in the process were eco-friendly. Based on what we learned, we imitated blubber with pool noodles, downy with cotton, filoplumes with pipe cleaners, and contour feathers with felt.