Researchers create tiny pump that provides continuous and spontaneous antigravity water delivery

June 15, 2015 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org weblog

Researchers create tiny pump that provides continuous and spontaneous antigravity water delivery
(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at Beihang University in China has created a very tiny pump that is able to lift a drop of water without the use of any power source and move it to a higher location. In their paper published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, the team describes how they built their pump and the ways it might be used.

For perhaps thousands of years people have wished for a way to move from one location to another without the need for a , i.e. carrying or pumping it, especially when moving it uphill. In this new effort, the researchers have found a way to do that, albeit, with severe limitations.

As the researchers note, scientists have seen many examples of water being moved up from a lower location in nature, , etc., but not in the way they were looking for. In this new effort the team looked to improve on such examples by taking advantage of both and a superhydrophobic material.

To build their , the researchers created a superhydrophobic material by exposing a copper mesh to an alkali solution—the microscopic sized pockets it created caused water to slide with almost no friction. They then affixed the mesh to the bottom of a plastic tube that sat vertically. They next attached another tube to the first creating a right angle at the top and then attached a very short third tube to the second at its other end, this one pointing straight down. That was all it took. To use the pump, a bit of liquid was introduced into the pump, priming it, then a drop was introduced from beneath the pump, through the wire mesh. The liquid in the pump rose, because it was repelled from below, into the second tube and then into the third where it was expelled.

Credit: Advanced Functional Materials, DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201501320

The team notes that such a device can only pump to a few centimeters in height before gravity wins over, preventing the drop from entering, much less pushing other liquid up.. They suggest it could be used as a design for advanced materials and in developing new kinds of technology applications in microfluidics, microdetectors or with intelligent systems.

Credit: Advanced Functional Materials, DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201501320
Credit: Advanced Functional Materials, DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201501320

Explore further: Shape shifting liquid metal able to propel itself through liquids (w/ video)

More information: Superhydrophobic "Pump": Continuous and Spontaneous Antigravity Water Delivery, Advanced Functional Materials, DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201501320

Abstract
Antigravity transportation of water, which is often observed in nature, is becoming a vital demand for advanced devices and new technology. Many studies have been devoted to the motion of a single droplet on a horizontal or inclined substrate under specific assistance. However, the self-propelled water motion, especially continuous antigravity water delivery, still remains a considerable challenge. Here, a novel self-ascending phenomenon driven only by the surface energy release of water droplets is found, and a superhydrophobic mesh to pump water up to a height of centimeter scale is designed. An integrated antigravity transportation system is also demonstrated to continuously and spontaneously pump water droplets without additional driving forces. The present novel finding and integrated devices should serve as a source of inspiration for the design of advanced materials and for the development of new technology with exciting applications in microfluidics, microdetectors, and intelligent systems.

via NewScientist

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11 comments

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charlimopps
not rated yet Jun 15, 2015
ok, so it's using energy from somewhere... if not, then that 3rd video is a perpetual motion machine. Where's the energy coming from?
Returners
not rated yet Jun 15, 2015
ok, so it's using energy from somewhere... if not, then that 3rd video is a perpetual motion machine. Where's the energy coming from?


The "electron cloud".
retrosurf
5 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2015
"Here, a novel self-ascending phenomenon driven only by the surface energy release of water droplets is found, ..."

Surface tension. Says so right in the abstract.

It's capillary action in reverse, hydrophobic instead of hydrophilic, pushing rather than pulling. The hydrophobic mesh keeps the fluid from flowing downward. It's not so much a pump as it is a check valve, and I think the authors misrepresent their finding.

Note the narrow tube below the mesh in the last video. The fluid is being *pushed* past the hydrophobic mesh. That's where the work is being done.
El_Nose
5 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2015
If i understand this correctly

1) from the video of the bottom of the tube you can see the water is 'held' in place only by the mesh which is superhydrophobic.

So they cheat by adding water to the tube. This the water is repelled by the mesh and thus stacks up the tube.

Note they state that the force of gravity overcomes this repulsion after a few centimeters...

so the energy used is the water being pushed to the other side of the mesh from there its just repellant forces keeping the water from falling back through the mesh. And like stated after a few centimeters the force of gravity on the water would overcome the repellant forces of the mesh.
mrnovember
not rated yet Jun 15, 2015
Soo... build like 250 of these in a little step ladder formation and suck up a bunch of water from the ground and raise it 2.5 metres... then have it all run over a water wheel that drives a generator. Infinite free electricity?

Clearly there's some barrier to this idea, because otherwise forget solar, fusion, or anything else, we can just use this for infinite free electricity.
Amoeboid
not rated yet Jun 16, 2015
Soo... build like 250 of these in a little step ladder formation.


That's exactly what I was thinking. Why does it look like they're defying the law of conservation of energy? What did we overlook?
vlisivka
not rated yet Jun 16, 2015
Soo... build like 250 of these in a little step ladder formation.


That's exactly what I was thinking. Why does it look like they're defying the law of conservation of energy? What did we overlook?

Water will be cooled a bit at each step. Good for Africa (free electricity and free cooling), but not so good for something like Iceland in winter (except for datacenters and bitcoin rigs, of course, because they need cooling and electricity 24x7).
vlisivka
not rated yet Jun 16, 2015
It will be able to extract energy from water, but only about 5W of power per cubic meter of equipment, i.e. 100MW will require 2 square kilomiters of 10 meters high equipment at least. (1mm/s speed of capillary effect is assumed).

El_Nose
not rated yet Jun 16, 2015
@mrnovember @amoeboid
okay so energy is being used - the water is being pumped up to the mesh

Then once on the other side the mesh repels the water upward.

so there is no violation of the conservation of energy and if there is a gain it is very very small.

@vlisivka

I wonder if this does have a heat gradient-- that would be interesting. I would think it would absorb radiation rather than emit though. and only one side of the mesh
docile
Jun 16, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
SamuelEmmettBray
not rated yet Jun 21, 2015
Well pretend you could make this system work for a 1cm wide cylinder that was say, 1cm tall
and you could maintain a flow rate of 1000ml / s in this system and you stacked 100 of them on top of each other.1m head x 1l/s flow x 9.81 (gravity)! you would generate about 10 watts of power each second or about 36kwh at 100% efficiency in your generator. (and that's giving a LOT of credit to surface tensions under gravitational forces and to your generator and NOT taking into account friction loss of your downspout).

How about a million such stacked "pump" units? (that's 100 million 1cmx1cm cylinders) well that would be about 10MW each second of energy or 36000kwh or about enough energy to run 3 US homes for a year (at 100 million such units (1million x 100 stacked)

Which means you would need around 1.232e16 or (12320000000000000) little pumps to provide enough electricity for just the HOMES in the US, no businesses or tesla cars or the like.
(3am errors may be present)

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