Engineering Advances Through Lotus Leaf Technology
Engineering Nature: Lotus Leaf
Continuing with the current blog series that examines biomimicry in engineering, this week’s blog will examine the interesting properties of a lotus leaf, or the so called “Lotus Effect”, and how they can be applied to current engineering advances in housewares, spacesuits, and even power plants. In some Eastern cultures the lotus plant is a symbol of purity due to its unprecedented hydrophobic and self-cleaning properties. By examining and attempting to harness these properties, current mechanical engineers are working to create a more efficient and cleaner version of current products.
Currently the Lotus Effect is being researched in almost every field imaginable, from outer space to coffee cups and everywhere in between. Right now the most commonly desired use that electrical engineers are looking into is hydrophobicity in electronics and power plant items. Many high performing electronics must be cooled by removing heat through water evaporation which in turn causes condensation. Using lotus leaf technology to then remove this condensation would not only increase the rate at which you could cool the electronics but increases electronics reliability and removes the fear of water contaminating the electronics. Engineering researchers at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering have also been testing the lotus effect in harsh humid and cold environments where condensation naturally occurs. Utilizing the Lotus Effect would allow an entirely improved design of textiles and optics that do not become wet or fog in environments such as Antarctica. On a smaller scale, a new company based out of New Mexico, Lotus Leaf Coatings Inc.(TM), has patented a spray coating that has Lotus Leaf like properties and this technology can be applied to a large variety of fields such as sanitation, HVAC, as well as many consumer products. They even have begun working with car and plane designers to implement the technology in order to create a vehicle that never requires washing, thus saving immeasurable amounts of water and energy.
The Louts Effect is just one aspect of taking nature and applying it to the many disciplines of science and engineering. By mimicking nature and it’s advances scientists can create products that are not only environmentally friendly and economical, but continue to push the boundaries of technological advances already being made.