ProjectsPast and current JFS projects


[Get Inspired by Nature] Inspired by Chemical Processes

This page is devoted to both Japanese and overseas examples of technology derived from the study of chemical processes used by animals and plants.
(See "Table legend" at the bottom of this page for an explanation of table content)

Photo by Grant Bishop
Attach to boat hulls, etc.
Barnacles create a compound from several proteins to use as cement.
Implants, parts adhesives
Marine Biotechnology Institute
AskNature: Multiple component glue aids underwater adhesion -- barnacle
Amazing Nature Database: The underwater adhesive made by barnacles (Japanese only)

Photo by Clemens Nestroy
Larvae of saturnid moths
Puts cells to sleep over winter
Dormancy chemical Yamamarin
These larvae use Yamamarin to suppress cell division and reversibly arrest cell activity.
Suppression of cancer cell division
Professor Koichi Suzuki, Faculty of Agriculture, Iwate University
Amazing Nature Database: Saturnid moths that can put cancer cells to sleep (Japanese only)

Photo by Vietnam plants
Shield and stink bugs
Display vivid coloration
Use of structural colors to bring out color
Protect themselves from predators by using light reflected off the tiny knobs and membranes coating their backs to produce vivid colors
Cosmetics that reflect light, particularly ultraviolet radiation
Amazing Nature Database: How shield bugs use good looks to keep enemies at bay (Japanese only)

Photo by Ryan Somma
Venus' Flower Basket
Creates a glassy skeleton at normal temperature
Glass fiber
Creates a basket of delicate glass fibers that it makes by converting silicic acid in sea water to silica
Production of glass at room temperature rather than the high temperatures that we currently use
Bell Laboratories, USA
AskNature: Filter feeding moves water -- Venus flower basket
Amazing Nature Database: The Venus' Flower Basket, a master glass fiber craftsman (Japanese only)

Microalgae (Pseudochoricystis, etc.)
Makes oil through photosynthesis
Pseudochorisystis makes oily organic substance through photosynthesis.
Biofuel that can be cultured/produced continuously
Institute for Advanced Biosciences, Keio University /Denso
Amazing Nature Database: Oil-producing microalgae (Japanese only)

Lac insect
Manufactures a natural resin to coat its body
Natural coating
Lac insects suck tree sap to synthesize a resin known as lac that they secrete to cover their bodies, protecting the colony and larvae
Coating, adhesive, dye or fragrance that is not degraded by ultraviolet radiation
Amazing Nature Database: The protective coating manufactured by lac insects (Japanese only)

Photo by Rockman of Zymurgy
Small White butterfly pupa
The stage between caterpillar and butterfly
The pupa secretes pierisin, a substance that destroys larval tissues not required by the adult and regenerates organs required by the adult.
New anti-cancer drug with no side effects
Professor Emeritus Takashi Sugimura et al., National Cancer Center
Amazing Nature Database: Using the Small White to kill cancer cells (Japanese only)


Photo by Fozzeee
Discharge of electrons
Plant pigments discharge electrons as well as oxygen when exposed to sunlight
Electricity generation through exposing an electrode coated with dye to sunlight and gathering the discharged electrons
Conceived at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne / Konica Minolta and others
Prof. Michael Gratzel, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Wikipedia: Dye-sensitized solar cell

Photo by PictureWendy
Bacteria in panda feces
Digest and break down ingested plant matter
Heat-resistant enzyme
Breakdown of cellulose and other food fiber that is otherwise difficult to break down
Microbial treatment of kitchen waste
Professor Emeritus Fumiaki Taguchi, Kitasato University
J-GLOBAL Japan Science and Technology Agency Link Center (Japanese only)
Kankyo goo: Fumiaki Taguchi - isolating useful bacteria from panda feces and termites (Japanese only)

Anaerobic bacteria that parasitize termites
Digest and break down ingested plant matter
Fermentation of raw garbage to release oxygen
Use of extracted hydrogen as a source of energy
Professor Emeritus Fumiaki Taguchi, Kitasato University
Kankyo goo: Fumiaki Taguchi - isolating useful bacteria from panda feces and termites (Japanese only)

Photo by bbum
Spider silk
Very fine, very strong, very elastic
A strong fiber
Made of protein
Manufacture of biodegradable fiber that does not involve synthesis from fossil fuels
Spiber, etc.
AskNature: Silk is strong -- Darwin's bark spider
Learning from Nature: Natural Technology (Gakken 2011 - Japanese only)

Table legend ask-nature01.jpg
photo creditLike ... (plant or animal)
What it is or does
Natural process involved
Potential application for human society
Researcher or research organization
Information source

ask-nature01.jpgThis mark signifies an example that has already been commercialized.

This project has been funded by Hitachi Environment Foundation under its fiscal 2011 funding program for NPOs.