A rhythmic pumping method inspired by the human heart could potentially reduce the energy used to move liquids through domestic and industrial pipes.
Forcing fluids through such systems, such as moving oil and gas from rigs to refineries or circulating water in home heating systems, consumes 10 to 15 percent of the world’s electricity supply. presumed to be used.
Turbulence in pipes causes friction and greatly increases the energy required to pump liquids. Previous attempts to reduce turbulence have included complex coatings on the inside of pipes, which are costly to deploy at scale.
Bjorn Hof Researchers at the Austrian Institute of Science and Technology say copying the human heart is a natural starting point to address the problem, as it benefits from millions of years of evolution. He and his colleagues found that pulsing liquids through pipes, much like the human heart moves blood, reduces friction in pipes and thus reduces energy consumption. did.
To take a closer look, the researchers mixed water with reflective particles and pumped it through a transparent pipe under a laser, allowing them to visualize eddies and vortices within the liquid.
They tried numerous rhythmic pulse patterns, most of which actually increased the energy. It is necessary for pumping water. However, we found that introducing a short resting period between heartbeats reduced turbulence in the water. In the best experiments, friction decreased by 25% and energy demand overall he decreased by 9%.
To make this work in the real world, the pump would have to be modified to pulsate, which would be costly, Hoff said, but much cheaper than upgrading the lining of a long, unwieldy pipe. Masu. But as a scientist, he says the practical application is best left to engineers.
“What I don’t know is how happy I would be if the central heating pump was on and off all the time, so to speak. Then winter might not last – I don’t know,” says Hof Masu.