Virginia Tech scientists have found a solution for reducing aerospace and wind industries taking inspiration from the Namib Desert beetle a native of southwest Africa. The beetle is known for its capacity to withhold itself even in the hot and arid conditions of the region where it is very much difficult to come across standing water.
A desert insect proves inspiration for preventing frost
The beetle uses its shell for collecting airborne water. The shell is topped with specialized bumps on which the moisture droplets are formed. It keeps the moisture off by making use of its smoother side. So, simultaneously the body of the Namib desert beetle performs the dual task of storing and giving out the moisture.
Ironically, an insect that rarely has to face such a problem inspired the frost prevention solution. The technique used by the shell of this insect attracted the scientists.
The contrasting actions lead to condensation process and provide moisture to the mouth of beetle. Inspired by this the researchers at the Virginia Tech are trying to replicate the action and the effect. The new technique will involve restricting the frost formation by arranging layers of patterns over each other so that a surface repelling water is created.
Bridge of water droplets prevents frost formation
The scientists used photolithography for creating such an overlapping microfabrication patterns. With the help of these patterns, frost in the form of small frozen water drops is created that develop a bridge with nearby droplets around. However, frost formation will not be possible if the droplets do not come together and are placed apart.
Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics Jonathan Borekyo said he appreciates the irony that an insect living in dry and hot desert condition is the inspiration behind the frost reduction technology.
According to him, the primary achievement in this regard is that now it is possible to control the growth of dewdrops in a particular place.