For many years now humans have successfully imitated strategies and patterns found in nature in order to solve various problems and challenges that they’ve encountered in their daily lives.
We have seen Nano Air vehicles inspired by maple seeds, display technology found in mobile devices, inspired by butterfly wings, bionic cars inspired by boxfish and so many other examples.
Now it’s time for a new example to come along as a group of researchers from Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are currently working on a nature-inspired technique, which will efficiently collect and transport water droplets from the air.
Drawing inspiration from the Namib desert beetles and cactuses, they decided to design a material which basically acts like a vacuum, sucking in the water droplets from the air faster and better than any other material on the market.
From this perspective, Joanna Aizenberg, one of the researchers involved in this project, believes that their study brings forward a unique direction in biomimetics, by combining multiple biological species in order to develop efficient materials with original properties.
Desert beetles and cactuses can actually survive in arid environments, by using a naturally constructed mechanism which allows them to collect water drops from the air.
However, their techniques are quite different. The Namib desert beetle uses its bumpy shell to collect water from the early fog, whereas the cactus has a V-shaped spine which pushes the water to the body.
Kyoo-Chul Park is one of the researchers currently working on this study. He explains that by experimenting, the team discovered that the beetle shell’s geometry facilitates condensation.
By designing that bump model and combining it with the cactus method and the coatings of pitcher plants, they were able to create a material that can collect and transport more water in a shorter amount of time.
The researchers’ method could be used both for harvesting and for thermal power stations.
According to researcher Philseok Kim, thermal power plants need condensers in order to quickly transform steam into liquid water. Their material can actually accelerate that process and even enable it to work at a higher temperature, thus saving energy and making the operation that much more efficient.
This revolutionary project confirms once again that biomimicry is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to solving complex human problems, since it represents the first step in creating a passive system for efficient water collection and distribution.
Image Source: Inmatteria