The Fraunhofer IPT and their partners from RWTH Aachen University and the Johannes Kepler Unversity Linz received the “International Bionic Award” for best idea and most commendable interdisciplinary collaboration of production engineers and natural scientists. In a joint project, the team of four developed structures for a unidirectional fluid transport on surfaces of different materials.
During the bionics congress “Patents of Nature”, which took place on 21 October 2016 in Bremen, Kai Winands and Mario Pothen from the Fraunhofer IPT and their research partners Dr. Philipp Comanns from RWTH Aachen University and Gerda Buchberger from the Johannes Kepler University Linz received the ”International Bionic Award” of the Schauenburg Foundation for their outstanding interdisciplinary collaboration in the research areas engineering, computer science, biology and physics.
The developed fluid transport mechanism is based on the integument of the Texas horned lizard
The award, which includes a 10 000 Euro prize money, was handed out by the VDI Association – Technologies of Life Sciences and is sponsored by the Schauenburg Foundation.
Since 2008, the International Bionic Award honors and promotes junior scientists and their innovative bionics-related research work. Here, practice-oriented and interdisciplinary work is a central criterion. After all, the research field of bionics offers continuous motivation for multidisciplinary collaborations, yielding promising results with long-term benefits for technology, economy and society.
Lizard integument as inspiration for fluid transport in production technology
The collaboration between the Fraunhofer IPT, RWTH Aachen University and the Johannes Kepler University Linz was motivated by a small reptile: The Texas horned lizard. The scaly structure on its integument enables it to collect smallest amount of water which is then transported towards the snout through thin, half-open capillaries. The joint three-year project “BioLas.exe”, which started in November 2012, aimed at transferring the lizard’s surface structure to complex-shaped technical surfaces made of polymer and metal.
The challenge of the “BioLas.exe” project was to understand and a the special mechanism of the capillaries on the lizard’s integument which thus had to be analyzed in advance so that suitable structure designs for technical applications could be deduced. Subsequently, specially developed software was used to digitally transfer the structures onto free-formed surfaces for the manufacturing of structured components. Ultimately, the optimized fluid transport mechanism could be applied in industrial manufacturing, e.g. for sanitary products or for lubricant transport in car engines. This idea convinced the international jury of the VDI bionics department.
A successive project, “LiNaBioFluid”, was launched in July 2015 which not only draws inspiration from the horned lizard but also from the bark bug. Due to this bug’s wetting properties, it darkens during rainfall as a camouflage strategy and becomes almost invisible in its environment. The EU project aims to understand underlying large-area wetting principles and fluid transport mechanisms by abstracting the animals’ surface properties and transferring them to technical surfaces where it could be an advantage in terms of reducing friction and wear. The interdisciplinary consortium of the “LiNaBioFluid” project consists of seven partners from four different countries. The project is sponsored by the EU program Horizon 2020 FET Open and will conclude in July 2018.
Susanne Krause | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnologie IPT
Further reports about: > Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnologie IPT > IPT > Produktionstechnologie > VDI > fluid transport
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