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What can termites teach us about thermoregulation and ventilation?

By Dr Bagus Muljadi; Assistant Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineeringin GERC

From May 8th to 11th I had the chance to attend and present our work at the 9th International Conference on Porous Media & Annual Meeting (INTERPORE), in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Unlike the previous INTERPORE meetings I have attended, this time I did not talk about storage or extraction from natural rocks. In fact, what I think is fascinating about the work I presented is the fact that it begun from simple curiosity: how do termites regulate temperature, humidity, and gas exchange in their mounds?

Termites are very social animals that live in colonies. Like us, termites build an environment that suits them rather than adapting to their environment. For instance, they sometimes live in arid regions that would dry out their bodies but their mounds help counteract the problem by maintaining an environment that is cool and humid. Some termites grow fungus – which requires a rain forest-like en…

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