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The Extraordinary Bombardier Beetle: Learning Design from the Created World


The innocuous looking bombardier beetle is one of the most remarkable creatures - it is able to fight off any spider, frog, ant or bird that comes too close by blasting the attacker with a powerful jet of hot, toxic fluid. Prof Andy McIntosh and a team at Leeds have built an experimental rig mimicking the major physics of the beetle ejection system and that knowledge is revolutionizing industrial spray technology, in particular fuel injectors, and pharmaceutical drug delivery systems such as nebulisers. The bombardier beetle sends out a repeated blast of hot caustic fluid, steam and water a considerable distance at 500Hz. This has recently inspired Prof McIntosh in designing a fire extinguisher with Liberty University, Virginia for fighting forest fires based on this technology.