The beetle that survives in volcanic areas

Sometimes inspiration can take the form of a memory, an idea … or a beetle. In this case, a beetle that can regulate its temperature in the warmest places on earth. It is at the heart of new research with important potential effects on cooling. Ecologically from buildings to electronic devices. It is the beetle that survives in volcanic areas.

The beetle that survives in volcanic areas, the Neocerambyx gigas.
The beetle that survives in volcanic areas, the Neocerambyx gigas.
Colder cold

It is being studied by the University of Texas, the Jiao Tong University of China and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. You have new information about a kind of longhorn beetle. It can cool your body enough to survive in volcanic areas in Southeast Asia. They used this information to create a photonic film based on the structure of the beetle wing. They used common, flexible materials that are mechanically strong and can be manufactured on a large scale. The film cools passively. This means that it doesn’t use energy like the systems we use to keep the temperatures in our cars and buildings low.

The results were published today in the Proceedings journal of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This can help wherever cooling is required,” said Yuebing Zheng. He is an associate professor at the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering. “Refrigerators, air conditioners and other methods use a lot of energy. But that cools down by itself.

The team found that their film lowered the temperatures of the objects by up to 5.1 degrees Celsius in direct sunlight. More than 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coat everything

The film would act as a coating on the objects. Could be placed over windows in office and residential buildings. It could protect solar panels from damage by constant sun exposure. Or wrap cars around to keep them cool when parked. And it could be a key ingredient in novel cooling fabrics.

Photo of the bio-RC film produced.
Photo of the bio-RC film produced.

The US Energy Information Administration. USA predicts an increase in air conditioning consumption by 2050. 59% more in the home and 17% more commercial use.

The cooling performance of the beetle was previously known. But what made it so effective at regulating its temperature remained a mystery. The team found that the triangular “fluff” on the wings played an important role. They reflect sunlight and remove internal heat from the body.

Longicorn beetles are also known as longhorn beetles. This research focuses on a particular species of beetle, Neocerambyx gigas. It can survive in hot and scorching climates near active volcanoes in Thailand and Indonesia. The summer temperatures there exceed 40 degrees Celsius. The floor warms up to 70 ° C. In hot weather, the beetles remain silent. They stop eating to avoid removing excess heat from the movement.

On a large scale

The film created by the team consists of PDMS, a flexible and widely used polymer. The materials are widely used and the process is simple (micro-embossing). Zheng believes the project will be successful.

“Imitation of biology does not work on a larger scale due to the high cost and strict manufacturing requirements,” said Zheng.

In the future, the research team will work on further optimizing the manufacturing process on a large scale. You will look for marketing opportunities in different areas. These include energy-efficient buildings, water cooling systems, thermal fabrics … And it all started with the beetle that survives in volcanic areas. So if you can’t run away from the overwhelming heat, you have to want to be a beetle for a moment.

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