Desert Beetles May Help Prevent Frost

Posted: Jan 24 2016, 3:56pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Desert Beetles Help Discover Frost Reduction Tech
By controlling the spacing of condensation, researchers were able to control the speed of frost growth across surfaces, or completely prevent frost. The video shows frost spreads more quickly when drops are closer, and the chain reaction is not as quick when the drops are farther apart. Credit: Saurabh Nath/Virginia Tech
  • Beetles may be the answer to preventing Frost damage!

Research claims they can use photolithography to control the spread of frost on mega-structures.

Frost damage has long been a major problem in the winter season. Now a team of researchers claim they may have found the answer to prevent Frost damage. The answers shockingly lie in tiny Beetles.

The claims were made by a team of researchers led by Virginia Tech. The researchers claim they can prevent frost on airplane parts, condenser coils, and even windshields.

The researchers will use a method involving chemical micropatterns to control the growth of frost especially the frost caused by condensation.

The findings were published in Scientific Reports, an online journal from the publishers of Nature. According to the researchers they will use photolithography.

The technique will pattern chemical arrays that attract water over top of a surface that repels water. It will lead to the prevention or control of the frost. The source of the research work was very unusual.

The researchers used the Namib Desert Beetle as an inspiration. The Namib Desert Beetle lives in one of the hottest places in the world. The Beetle is still capable of collecting airborne water particles.

The Beetle consists of a bumpy shell. The tips of the bumps attract moisture to form drops. However the sides of the Beetle are smooth and repel water. The sides create channels that lead directly to the beetle's mouth.

The research was carried out at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The researchers developed the beetle-inspired, frost-controlling chemical pattern on a small surface.

The surface was only about the size of a centimetre. However the researchers believe the area can be scaled up to large surface areas. The areas can even be thirsty, hydrophilic patterns overtops. The overtops can be hydrophobic or water-repellent, surfaces.

Jonathan Boreyko is an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics. Boreyko is employed at the Virginia Tech College of Engineering and was one of the lead authors.

According to Boreyko, they appreciate the irony of their research. How an insect that lives in a hot, dry desert inspired them to make a discovery about frost. The main alteration is that the researchers can control where dew drops grow.

Boreyko further stated they made a single dry zone around a piece of ice. The Dew drops better grow on the array of hydrophilic dots. The dots were placed apart far enough.

Then one of the drops freezes into the ice, but was no longer able to spread. The drop was unable to spread frost to the neighbouring drops because they are too far away. The drops then evaporated creating a dry zone around the ice. In simple words, the researchers were successful in making frost free dry zones.

The frost-free zones on larger surfaces can have a variety of applications. The zones can be made on heat pump coils or wind turbines or airplane wings.

C. Patrick Collier is the co-author of the study. Collier is also a research scientist at the Nanofabrication Research Laboratory Center. Collier is also employed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

According to Collier, to make sure things keep dry is huge energy expenditure. So the team paid more attention to ways to control water condensation and freezing. The research could lead to huge cost savings on big infrastructures.

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