Battleship beetle helps engineers create heavy-duty turbine for aircraft engines

The insect Nosoderma diabolicum, aka the devilish armored beetle, is considered the owner of the most durable carapace among arthropods. The study of the insect showed that this is not so much a passive protection as an analogue of an exoskeleton with integrated armor. Detailed studies helped scientists from Purdue University (USA) to copy one of the mechanisms of this design and apply it to create engines.

The devilish armored beetle can survive being hit by a car weighing more than 1.5 tons, which is experimentally confirmed. A tiny bug with a body length of less than 2 cm has been proven to withstand 39,000 times its own weight. This is achieved not due to the strength of the shell, but due to the special structure of the seam between the plates. It is mobile and helps to distribute the load on the entire body of the insect.

Beetle Shell Clasp

The most difficult and important section of the seam is the so-called “fastener”, fastening the two rigid ends of the plates together. It is somewhat similar to how parts are connected to each other in a regular puzzle, but much more difficult and stronger. The clasp holds the plates even under a huge load, preventing them from jumping out of place and ruining the entire structure of the shell. Scientists managed to create an exact model of it, on the basis of which analogues for engine turbine blades were made.

Engineers designed a composite buckle instead of the old metal fastener and installed a composite turbine blade on it. Tests of such a design have shown that it is superior in strength to the previous version, but what is even more interesting is that under critical loads the fastener does not deform, like metal fasteners, does not accumulate stress in itself, but dissipates energy. The same evolutionary mechanism that the devil armored beetle has is now available and engineers.

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