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
- Online water tariff payment hits roadblockon January 13, 2020 at 10:27 pm
The digitalisation push by the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory (UT) administration, to end manual transaction in water tariff collection and rein in on corruption, has hit a roadblock due to ...
- You can leave water out for wildlife without attracting mosquitoes, if you take a few precautionson January 13, 2020 at 6:07 pm
Drought is also impacting many regions. Understandably, people want to leave water out for thirsty birds and animals. Health authorities generally warn against collecting and storing water in ...
- Hempstead Town collecting water, supplies for Puerto Ricoon January 13, 2020 at 5:21 pm
Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin announced Monday that the town will be collecting water and supplies to help people in Puerto Rico, which was struck by earthquakes last week. Newsday reporter ...
- Fish Feed Quality Is a Key Factor in Impacting Aquaculture Water Environment: Evidence from Incubator Experimentson January 13, 2020 at 2:37 pm
aeruginosa (cyanobacterium) was obtained from the Freshwater Algae Culture Collection of the Institution of Hydrobiology (FACHB-905), which ... Generally speaking, the lower the algae densities ...
- Ships using the Panama Canal will see an extra charge for fresh wateron January 13, 2020 at 12:45 pm
The Panama Canal will begin collecting a freshwater surcharge from ships using the waterway ... Canal administrator Ricaurte Vásquez said the new measure aims to protect the supply of fresh water for ...
- Plumbing and Water Management Systems Market By Trends, Drivers and Growth Prospects till 2019-2026on January 13, 2020 at 1:04 am
The detailed study on the Plumbing and Water Management Systems Market includes essential insights for investors who are looking to improve their position in the existing and future market scenario.
- Water Treatment Chemicals Market 2020 Analysis Focusing On Top Companies- BASF SE, Ecolab, Kemira OYJ, Akzo Nobel N.V.on January 13, 2020 at 12:42 am
New Jersey, United States, - The report titled Water Treatment Chemicals Market is one of the most comprehensive and important additions to Verified Market Research's archive of market research ...
- A water leak and disputed $4,000 bill could cost a Portsmouth woman her home. She wants a chance to fight back.on January 12, 2020 at 11:52 pm
Hargrove works at a debt collection agency to help cover their $950 rent, and she’s the one that hauls in fresh water. “I fill the tub every other day,” Hargrove said. “We use detergent bottles, soda ...
- With A 6.0% Return On Equity, Is Duxton Water Limited (ASX:D2O) A Quality Stock?on January 12, 2020 at 7:09 pm
While some investors are already well versed in financial metrics (hat tip), this article is for those who would ...
- $2M project will finally give parts of Cañoncito clean wateron January 11, 2020 at 6:46 pm
She aims to improve her rainwater collection system so she can be self-sufficient. "I'd much rather upgrade that than having a big pipeline put in," Snow said. But Don Boyes, who lives downstream from ...
via Bing News