Natural Beetle Lubricant Outperforms Even The Teflon

Jul, 2021 - By WMR

Natural Beetle Lubricant Outperforms Even The Teflon

Scientists studied the knees of a darkling beetle below the scanning electron microscope, just to find that the joint area excrete a lubricating substance.

It doesn’t matter how great a design human beings have invented, chances are that nature has defeated them to it, doing a far better job. The newest innovation joining this list is a lubricant, with scientists discovering that the beetles naturally grease their knee with an odd substance which works better compared to Teflon.

For this new study, scientists from the Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel and Aarhus University aimed to find this out. The team studied the knees of a darkling beetle below the scanning electron microscope, just to find that area of the joint of tibia and femur is filled with pores that excrete the lubricating substance. Team conducted chemical evaluation of this substance and discovered that, mostly its made from fatty acids and proteins. Furthermore, they tested that material as lubricant, employing it among two surfaces of glass and rubbing it together at loads, pressures and speeds which would be within a beetle’s range of regular walking. Surely, the sliding friction coefficient was way lower for this beetle lube as compared to 2 glass plates having no lube. This natural substance outperformed the vacuum grease with a high margin, and even pipped narrowly at polytetrafluoroethylene, frequently called as Teflon.

This beetle juice included some other odd properties too. It isn’t exactly a liquid, however more like a “semi-solid.” After it’s extrusion through the pores, it has a tendency to easily fragment that seems to assist it for covering a broader area with increased efficiency along with penetrating into tiny gaps. The team states that the natural lubricant might be useful in prosthetics and small-scale robots, for which traditional lubricants aren’t specifically well-suited. While it isn’t exactly practical for trying to farm this lube by live beetles, this work might lead to novel synthetic versions that are inspired by this real thing. This study was published within the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal.

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