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Scorpions inspire scientists in making tougher surfaces for machinery

Date:
January 26, 2012
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Taking inspiration from the yellow fattail scorpion, which uses a bionic shield to protect itself against scratches from desert sandstorms, scientists have developed a new way to protect the moving parts of machinery from wear and tear.
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Yellow fattail scorpion (Androctonus australis).
Credit: © Fyle / Fotolia

Taking inspiration from the yellow fattail scorpion, which uses a bionic shield to protect itself against scratches from desert sandstorms, scientists have developed a new way to protect the moving parts of machinery from wear and tear.

A report on the research appears in ACS' journal Langmuir.

Zhiwu Han, Junqiu Zhang, Wen Li and colleagues explain that "solid particle erosion" is one of the important reasons for material damage or equipment failure. It causes millions of dollars of damage each year to helicopter rotors, rocket motor nozzles, turbine blades, pipes and other mechanical parts. The damage occurs when particles of dirt, grit and other hard material in the air, water or other fluids strike the surfaces of those parts. Filters can help remove the particles but must be replaced or cleaned, while harder, erosion-resistant materials cost more to develop and make. In an effort to develop better erosion-resistant surfaces, Han and Li's group sought the secrets of the yellow fattail scorpion for the first time. The scorpion evolved to survive the abrasive power of harsh sandstorms.

They studied the bumps and grooves on the scorpions' backs, scanning the creatures with a 3-D laser device and developing a computer program that modeled the flow of sand-laden air over the scorpions. The team used the model in computer simulations to develop actual patterned surfaces to test which patterns perform best. At the same time, the erosion tests were conducted in the simple erosion wind tunnel for groove surface bionic samples at various impact conditions. Their results showed that a series of small grooves at a 30-degree angle to the flowing gas or liquid give steel surfaces the best protection from erosion.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Han Zhiwu, Zhang Junqiu, Ge Chao, Wen Li, Luquan Ren. Erosion Resistance of Bionic Functional Surfaces Inspired from Desert Scorpions. Langmuir, 2012; 120120101148000 DOI: 10.1021/la203942r

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American Chemical Society. "Scorpions inspire scientists in making tougher surfaces for machinery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120125101950.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2012, January 26). Scorpions inspire scientists in making tougher surfaces for machinery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120125101950.htm
American Chemical Society. "Scorpions inspire scientists in making tougher surfaces for machinery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120125101950.htm (accessed August 29, 2015).

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