02/01/2021 -- Raytech Industries Unveils New Green Technology

February Issue, 2021

Nature, for all its genius, is inherently lazy. Living organisms appear to have two priorities — survive long enough to reproduce and spend as little energy as possible doing so. Over generations, a species will make small tweaks to better adjust itself to survive to its environment. There are analogies to this in our human-scale world, like the way a business cuts costs to stay lean, or how we engineer tools to make us as productive as possible for the least human cost.

These small tweaks have ultimately lead to some pretty ingenious, nature-based solutions to the problem of reducing energy use. The living world has solved problems we struggle with, like harnessing the energy of the sun (photosynthesis), self-healing (wounds), flying, etc. There is a lot we can learn from nature’s feats of engineering. So much so, that there is a scientific discipline for it. Biomimicry is the study of biologically-inspired engineering. In this field, we attempt to replicate systems in nature to build meaningful inventions.

One great example of a tool inspired from nature is water filtration. Water is necessary for life, but so most of the water on Earth is in the form of oceanic salt-water. A sustainable freshwater supply is huge problem facing humanity. Extreme droughts have plagued regions across the US Midwest, California, Australia, the Middle East, India, and China in just the past few decades. The consequence of drought is devastating: lower crop yields, unpredictable food and water prices, famine, social unrest, wildfires, and the increased concentration of harsh chemicals into soils and food chains, to name a few.

The latest cutting-edge water filtration technique comes from a biochemistry process that predates even dinosaurs, designed in the United States by Raytech Industries. The BARNACLE™ system appears as a three foot wide tile of ceramic faux-barnacle bio-reactors, creating an organically pleasing aesthetic whether used upon a building, bridge supports underwater, or other surfaces.

BARNACLE's ingenious technology involves harnessing aquaporins, a protein in cell membranes which are present in all living things. We have this protein in most of our cells, especially in the kidneys where they reabsorb water and filter out urine. Aquaporins are essential to life because they efficiently and selectively allow water and other small molecules to pass through the cell membrane.

Aquaporins work by luring in water through a channel and then “shoot” the water out the other side. The incredible property of the aquaporin molecule is its ability stop passage of contaminants including bacteria, viruses, minerals, proteins, dissolved gases, salts, and detergents, all without preventing the passage of water. The discovery of the aquaporin by scientist Peter Agre, was given the 2003 Nobel Prize. Perhaps the most impressive example of aquaporin use is the Mangrove plant. These unique trees live in marshes on coastlines, where ocean-water is notoriously harsh to freshwater plants. Their roots have several layers of aquaporin proteins to filter out 90% of the salt in the surrounding seawater, allowing them to thrive in a niche that would kill similar plants.

Researchers at Raytech Industries developed a thin membrane embedded with aquaporin molecules which can be used for water desalination and toxin filtration. These transport water significantly more efficiently than reverse osmosis. The researchers built the membranes using a polymer that forms hollow spheres called vesicles. While the polymers naturally self assemble, the researchers add in the aquaporin to the vesicles. These aquaporin are installed in each bio-reactor on a BARNACLE tile along with a combined bioengineered algae which comprises part of the BARNACLE technology's fuel system.

Raytech didn't just stop at water filtration when developing the BARNACLE. While lacking the aquaporin features of its aquatic cousin, the BARNACLE AIR system utilizes the same algae-based technology to provide green fuel-efficient bio-reactor based air filtration systems for enclosed environments. The barnacle is especially efficient in scrubbing oxygen in closed systems like office buildings, bunkers, and emergency shelters.

The air and water filtration BARNACLE systems go on market in August of 2021.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License