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Published on Dec 2, 2011
Nature likes spirals, from whirlpools or hurricanes, to the way sap flows up a plant, to the shape of a human heart. Inventor Jay Harmon, of the engineering research and product design firm PAX Scientific Inc., used this archetypal shape from nature to design a "frozen whirlpool" as the rotary part of a machine or pump. Harmon's frozen whirlpool, about the size of your hand, can stir ten million gallons of water in a storage tank with just a couple of light bulbs' worth of power. This design keeps water tanks clean, without the use of chlorine or other chemicals. Harman is working now to scale up his frozen whirlpool to clean the air of a whole city. This interview is part of a special EarthSky series, Biomimicry: Nature of Innovation, produced in partnership with Fast Company and sponsored by Dow.