Texas A&M University researchers are using 3D printing to develop a method of underwater plasma generation inspired by shrimp. Benefits of the method could be in drilling and water sterilization.
Researchers from Texas A&M University are 3D printing replicas of snapping or pistol shrimp claws to help them develop a method of underwater plasma generation which could improve actions such as water sterilization and drilling.
“Generally when you look to nature, evolutionary pressure makes it so that nature is very efficient at doing things,” said Texas A&M mechanical engineering associate professor David Staack. “I find it interesting that the shrimp has been doing intense shock waves, plasma chemistry and nanoparticle synthesis for millions of years.”
The researchers used 3D printing technology to replicate both the shape and the snapping of a shrimp’s claw. Using the technology they could also recreate the shrimp’s complex mechanism which generates plasma.
This mechanism works by shooting out a jet of water which creates a bubble that collapses and emits light and a loud noise. The high pressure produced by this process leads plasma to form at upwards of 3,000°F. The researchers are hoping that the 3D printed replica will do the same.
The work began four years ago as an offshoot of a project on electrical discharge plasma in liquids. Researchers compared their electrical plasma process to the snapping shrimp’s and began trying to mimic the mechanics of the shrimp’s process.
3D printing technology was “instrumental” for this project as it enabled the researchers to create an accurate model of the shrimp’s claw, which was five times larger than a natural claw, and allowed them to recreate the mechanism successfully.
Staack explains how the shrimp claws can be used, saying:
“The pressure and shocks can stun small fish or break-up a kidney stone. The cavitation and dynamics can be used to modify boundary layer flow and reduce drag for a boat. Other applications take advantage of the chemistry of the plasma state. Nanoparticles can be synthesized with exotic phases due to the extreme conditions during synthesis. Water can be sterilized. Oil can be upgraded.”
There is still work to be done with the shrimp’s claw and Staack explains that this involves determining the temperature of the plasma generated, finding out how large they can scale up the mechanism and testing some potential applications.
“What we’ve learned from this is that we don’t need all of this shrimp biology. We need the little back plunger and we need the channel, but we don’t need the part that the shrimp uses to hit with,” says Staack.
“There are some things which evolved for different reasons. Some of the things we’re doing now are figuring out what the distilled version of this mechanism is.”
Source: Engineering Texas A&M University
License: The text of "Researchers 3D Print Shrimp Claw to Generate Underwater Plasma" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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