INSPIRED BY A DESERT BEETLE, CACTUS AND PITCHER PLANT, RESEARCHERS DESIGN A NEW MATERIAL TO COLLECT WATER DROPLETS
Organisms such as cacti and desert beetles can survive in arid environments because they’ve evolved mechanisms to collect water from thin air. The Namib desert beetle, for example, collects water droplets on the bumps of its shell while V-shaped cactus spines guide droplets to the plant’s body.
As the planet grows drier, researchers are looking to nature for more effective ways to pull water from air. Now, a team of researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have drawn inspiration from these organisms to develop a better way to promote and transport condensed water droplets.
“Everybody is excited about bioinspired materials research,” said Joanna Aizenberg, the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at SEAS and core faculty member of the Wyss Institute. “However, so far, we tend to mimic one inspirational natural system at a time. Our research shows that a complex bio-inspired approach, in which we marry multiple biological species to come up with non-trivial designs for highly efficient materials with unprecedented properties, is a new, promising direction in biomimetics.”
The new system, described in Nature, is inspired by the bumpy shell of desert beetles, the asymmetric structure of cactus spines and slippery surfaces of pitcher plants. The material harnesses the power of these natural systems, plus Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces technology (SLIPS) developed in Aizenberg’s lab, to collect and direct the flow of condensed water droplets.
This approach is promising not only for harvesting water but also for industrial heat exchangers.
“Thermal power plants, for example, rely on condensers to quickly convert steam to liquid water,” said Philseok Kim, co-author of the paper and co-founder and vice president of technology at SEAS spin-off SLIPS Technologies, Inc. “This design could help speed up that process and even allow for operation at a higher temperature, significantly improving the overall energy efficiency.”
The major challenges in harvesting atmospheric water are controlling the size of the droplets, speed in which they form and the direction in which they flow.
For years, researchers focused on the hybrid chemistry of the beetle’s bumps — a hydrophilic top with hydrophobic surroundings — to explain how the beetle attracted water. However, Aizenberg and her team took inspiration from a different possibility – that convex bumps themselves also might be able to harvest water.
“We experimentally found that the geometry of bumps alone could facilitate condensation,” said Kyoo-Chul Park, a postdoctoral researcher and the first author of the paper. “By optimizing that bump shape through detailed theoretical modeling and combining it with the asymmetry of cactus spines and the nearly friction-free coatings of pitcher plants, we were able to design a material that can collect and transport a greater volume of water in a short time compared to other surfaces.”
“Without one of those parameters, the whole system would not work synergistically to promote both the growth and accelerated directional transport of even small, fast condensing droplets,” said Park.
“This research is an exciting first step towards developing a passive system that can efficiently collect water and guide it to a reservoir,” said Kim.
Learn more: Pulling water from thin air
The Latest on: Water collection
via Google News
The Latest on: Water collection
- Boardman, Canfield townships collecting fee to deal with stormwater issues on February 18, 2019 at 11:52 pm
which was formed ten years ago to handle water issues in Austintown, Boardman and Canfield townships. Austintown is not collecting the fee but in Boardman and Canfield townships, it averages out to $3... […]
- Sandy residents vent anger over city's water ordeal on February 18, 2019 at 9:00 pm
SANDY — Sandy leaders found themselves on the spot all night at a town hall meeting aimed at talking about the recent contaminated water situation, but it quickly turned into a barrage of questions an... […]
- Joint water district presenting plan to prevent flooding in Boardman, Canfield on February 18, 2019 at 7:50 pm
The plan has been put together by the ABC Water District, which has been in place for a while to deal with stormwater issues in Austintown, Boardman and Canfield townships. The plan includes collectin... […]
- Storm water fee being collected to address infrastructure on February 18, 2019 at 7:34 pm
A storm water utility fee is being collected in Boardman and Canfield townships to help with stormwater infrastructure. Since the beginning of the year, the two townships started collecting the fee to ... […]
- Luke Irwin debuts eco rug collection on February 18, 2019 at 5:15 pm
woven into attractively distressed geometric patterns The Rug-in-Rug collection (£600 per sq m) is made from natural, undyed wool. No chemicals are used in the making of the pieces, and they are washe... […]
- Author Jerry Dennis Kicks Off Third Coast Conversations: Dialogues about Water in Michigan on February 18, 2019 at 12:17 pm
Our relationship to water and place is ingrained and obvious ... and is the most comprehensive collection of Great Lakes-related scientific, historical, and cultural materials ever assembled. […]
- Supreme Unveils Spring/Summer 2019 Collection f/ ODB, 'Ghost Rider,' and More on February 18, 2019 at 9:47 am
Sunday, product shots and lookbook pics for the label's reliably versatile new collection were released alongside specific drop date intel. Ghost Rider, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and the wide world of water ... […]
- Aquacomputer Cuplex Kryos Next CPU Water Block Review on February 18, 2019 at 9:22 am
Water Block Disassembly and Breakdown Removing the four corner ... with a lip and drop-off at each end of the micro-channels where the coolants enters the collection chamber towards the outlet port. T... […]
- Sandy City seeks volunteers to collect water samples on February 18, 2019 at 6:14 am
To help with this project, meet at the Sandy City Hall at 8 a.m. for a short training session about water sample collection. Volunteers will then gather samples of the homes that have not yet tested. […]
- Fressko Shows How Far the Water Bottle Has Come Since 1622 on February 18, 2019 at 12:10 am
"The water bottle certainly has come a long way ... Fressko recently added two new products: Color Collection, which is a series of infuser flasks in a variety of colors: lagoon, floss, coal ... […]
via Bing News