Navigation Links
Nature shows the way
Date:9/23/2011

This release is available in French and German.

A hole in an inflatable boat is only a disaster if the air escapes too quickly to reach the safety of land. It's somewhat less dramatic but nonetheless uncomfortable to spend the night on a leaky air mattress. Even in this case, though, you can get some uninterrupted sleep if only the air leaks out slowly enough. In future, self-repairing layers of porous material should ensure that the membranes of inflatable objects are not only water and airtight but also that they can plug up any holes on their own, at least temporarily.

The idea behind this comes from nature. Bionics experts keep on discovering amazing principles of construction which engineers can adopt for countless technical solutions. This is also the case with self-repairing materials. The self-healing process of the pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla), a liana which grows in the mountain forests of North America, gave the biologists at the University of Freiburg, Germany, a decisive clue. When the lignified cells of the outer supportive tissues which give the plant its bending stiffness are damaged, the plant administers first aid to the wound. Parenchymal cells from the underlying base tissue expand suddenly and close the lesion from inside. Only in a later phase does the real healing process kick in and the original tissue grows back.

Self-healing inflatable structures

This principle is now being transferred to materials more specifically, to membranes in a bionics project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. As soon as a membrane suffers damage, an additional layer provides "first aid", thanks to its mechanical pre-tensioning, closing the hole until a proper repair can be made. This is analogous to the natural process which occurs in lianas. While researchers from the University of Freiburg under the direction of Olga Speck are busy studying the biological and chemical aspects of the model provided by liana plants, Rolf Luchsinger and Markus Rampf at Empa's Center for Synergetic Structures are working on technical solutions for polymer membranes. Luchsinger's impetus, however, concerns neither inflatable boats nor air mat-tresses but rather load-carrying pneumatic structures for lightweight construction. His tensairity beams serve as elements for quickly erected, lightweight bridges and roofing.

The study's goal is to understand under which conditions a hole plugs itself up if the foam expands on a membrane following damage. Within the scope of his dissertation, Rampf is studying this process with the help of an experimental setup which places a membrane under pneumatic pressure and then punctures it with a nail. The researchers have already achieved successful interim results. A two-component foam of polyurethane and polyester suddenly expands when exposed to the excessive pressure which arises when air rushes out of a hole.

It works in the lab, notes Luchsinger, and we're achieving high repair factors. What does this mean in the real world? Take the case of an air mattress with a volume of 200 litres. Given a certain-sized hole, previously it was necessary to pump it up every five minutes; it now holds for eight hours enough time to sleep through the night. We now know enough about the foam that we can enter into discussions with membrane manufacturers about commercializing this technology, according to Luchsinger, when describing the next steps.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Rolf Luchsinger
rolf.luchsinger@empa.ch
41-058-765-4090
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. MU researchers unveil new method for detecting lung cancer in Nature article
2. Mapping a model: International research on plant species appears in journal Nature
3. Nature reaches for the high-hanging fruit
4. Epigenetic memory key to nature versus nurture
5. New book on the meaning of nature connects vacations, corn, baseball
6. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology: Nature uses screws and nuts
7. Mimicking nature at the nanoscale: Selective transport across a biomimetic nanopore
8. GigaBlitz will turn high-resolution images of nature into global inventory of organisms, habitats
9. Nanotechnologists must take lessons from nature
10. How natures best ideas inspire innovative new technologies
11. Nature helps to solve a sticky problem
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Nature shows the way
(Date:2/2/2017)... 2, 2017   TapImmune, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... specializing in the development of innovative peptide and ... cancer and metastatic disease, announced today it has ... of a second clinical lot of TPIV 200, ... alpha. The manufactured vaccine product will be used ...
(Date:2/1/2017)... IDTechEx Research, a leading provider of independent market research, ... a new report, Sensors for Robotics: Technologies, Markets and Forecasts ... ... Revenues ... "Sensors for Robotics: Technologies, Markets and Forecasts 2017-2027: Machine vision, force ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... -- Crossmatch, a leading provider of security and identity management ... fraud, waste and abuse in assistance operations around the ... Disaster Relief conference in Panama City ... foreign assistance organizations throughout Latin America ... largely unacknowledged problem in the foreign assistance and disaster ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... ATLANTA , Feb. 23, 2017  In Atlanta, it ... art, fashion, and culture intertwine to create an expressive and ... often reflect this energy and contribute to it. ... , Hair Fairies seeks to carry on that ... The Atlanta salon is the newest ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... 12th annual Inventors Recognition Reception at Purdue Research Park of West ... member in recognition of outstanding contributions to, and success with, commercializing discoveries from ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... SAN FRANCISCO , Feb. 23, 2017 ... company, and Beyond Type 1, a not-for-profit advocacy and ... today announced a grant from Beyond Type 1 to ... type 1 and other insulin-requiring diabetes.  ... innovative stem cell-derived cell replacement therapies with a focus ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... -- PrimeVax Immuno-Oncology, Inc. announced today its CEO, Tony ... Global Life Science Partnering Conference.  The presentation will take ... Torrey Pines Lodge, in San Diego.  ... have chosen our company, amongst numerous others, to present ... clinical researchers," said Mr. Chen. "In contrast to conferences ...
Breaking Biology Technology: