The field of biomimetics, in which technology is inspired by nature, is intersectional by definition and has provided several industrial fields with some really interesting processes lately. Some mechanisms in nature are so spectacular and ingenious that it would truly be a waste not to learn from them.
One such example is the bombardier beetle. It defends itself by rapidly squirting high-pressure jets of boiling liquid at predators. The 2 cm long innocent-looking beetle is equipped with a unique natural pulse combustion technique and a sophisticated ejection mechanism that enables it to blast the toxic liquid up to 20 cm with amazing precision.
This ability of the insect has been known for a long time but researchers found new possibilities by looking at it from a physics and engineering perspective instead of a biology perspective. For instance, numerical and mathematical modelling has been used to analyse the shape of the combustion chamber.
The research has been led by Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory at Leeds, Andy McIntosh, and the work has resulted in the new technique µMist™. It is an effective and eco-friendly mist carrier system that makes it possible to control droplet size, temperature and velocity closely. It is therefore believed to have great potential in medicine, fire fighting, fuel injection or other industrial fields.
Nature strives for maximum achievement at minimum effort and this interdisciplinary and innovative research project did not only result in a product; the scientists also learned much more from it than they had expected. Read more about the project here or this recent post about another intersection between nature and industry.