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Scientists Develop Non-Eroding Surface Using Scorpion for Study

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 28, 2012 01:01 AM
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by Glenn Meyers last modified Jan 27, 2012

For those who have watched concrete or painted surfaces erode over the course of time from exposure to sand and weather, a new material may be ready for developmental testing – based on the desert scorpion, who has lived its entire life in the blowing sands of the desert and moves on from year to year, no worse for wear.




 

 

Scorpion statue at McCarran Airport, Las Vegas

For those who have watched concrete or painted surfaces erode over the course of time from exposure to sand and weather, a new material may be ready for developmental testing – based on the desert scorpion, who has lived its entire life in the blowing sands of the desert and moves on from year to year, no worse for wear.

Sand or other abrasive particles suspended in air or liquid can erode almost anything, writes gizmag in a post on the topic. Items such as helicopter rotor blades, airplane propellers, rocket motor nozzles and pipes regularly wear out and need to replaced – except the scorpion.

A group of scientists recently set out to study scorpions, so their findings  could be applied to man-made materials. Zhiwu Han, Junqiu Zhang, and Wen Li led a team that examined the bumps and grooves on the exoskeleton of the yellow fat tail scorpion. They began by scanning the creatures’ backs with a 3D laser device, then used that data to create a computer model of the surface. A computer simulation was then applied to that model, to see how sand-laden air would flow over it. The digital model was also used as a template for an actual physical model, which was used in erosion wind tunnel tests.

The scientists subsequently applied what they observed in the scorpions’ exoskeletons to man-made surfaces. They determined that the effects of erosion on steel surfaces could be significantly reduced, if that steel contained a series of small grooves set at a 30-degree angle to the flow of abrasive particles.

A paper on the scorpion research was recently published in the American Chemical Society journal Langmuir:

In this paper, a bionic method is presented to improve the erosion resistance of machine components. Desert scorpion (Androctonus australis) is a typical animal living in sandy deserts, and may face erosive action of blowing sand at a high speed. Based on the idea of bionics and biologic experimental techniques, the mechanisms of the sand erosion resistance of desert scorpion were investigated. Results showed that the desert scorpions used special microtextures such as bumps and grooves to construct the functional surfaces to achieve the erosion resistance. In order to understand the erosion resistance mechanisms of such functional surfaces, the combination of computational and experimental research were carried out in this paper. The  (CFD) method was applied to predict the erosion performance of the bionic functional surfaces. The result demonstrated that the microtextured surfaces exhibited better erosion resistance than the smooth surfaces. The further erosion tests indicated that the groove surfaces exhibited better erosion performance at 30° injection angle. In order to determine the effect of the groove dimensions on the erosion resistance, regression analysis of orthogonal multinomials was also performed under a certain erosion condition, and the regression equation between the erosion rate and groove distance, width, and height was established.

This stellar undertaking promises many new development opportunities in materials science. Congratulations to all involved.

Photo: James Fraleigh



 

 

 
 
 

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