A desert beetle could prevent the frost on the airplane wings, according to a team of researchers from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
The inspiration for the efficient method to prevent the frost came from the shell of a beetle, who lives in an area where the frost is rarely an issue. The method they came up with combines a special pattern that is laid on top of a surface that is water resistant. The researchers believe that the method will work even when it will be done on a much bigger scale, for example the airplanes.
Lately, a lot of major scientific breakthroughs have been done after they were inspired by elements found in the nature. The discovery that involves the beetle that lives in the Namib Desert is the latest. Jonathan Boreyko from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering said that the team hasn’t missed out on the irony of the fact that the insect which lives in a hot and dry desert has led to a discovery on frost.
The beetle can be found in the southwest of Africa, where the water areas are few. Through its shell, the beetle can collect airborne water. The water forms and runs to the mouth of the beetle through the unique bumps and smooth shell surface. After the researchers analyzed the beetle’s shell bumps, they copied them on a silicon wafer, the process being known as photolithography. The surface of the material repels the water droplets and the chemical pattern attracts them. The frost process can thus be stopped, because the water droplets are running and separate.
The researchers have then tested the method on a surface that had only a one centimeter size, but they assured people that it would work on much bigger scales as well. One of the authors of the study, C. Patrick Collier said that huge expenditures are needed in order to keep things dry, but he believes that this method will result in very big savings.
The beetle that lives in the Namib Desert has helped the researchers before. In 2012, a company based in the United States was inspired by the ability of the beetle to take water from the air. They went on to create a water bottle that had the ability to fill itself. As more and more innovations are based on nature, a lot of new organizations which focus only on these type of findings have opened, like the C. Patrick Collier Center in Montana and the California based Centre for Bioinspiration.
The findings of the results which concluded that a desert beetle could prevent the frost on the airplane wings were published in the Scientific Reports journal.
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