An extract of juice from the fruit of date palms like the ones shown here in Morocco could be used as the basis of a nontoxic anti-corrosive agent for aluminum alloys commonly used in aircraft structures. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Erg Chebbi)
I sense a bit of a recurring theme. Often mechanical designers turn to natural design to solve complicated physical problems. It seems "natural" that a chemist would turn to nature for clues to chemical problems. When considering all the lifecycle costs (including byproducts, disposal and toxicity issues) some "natural" solutions just might be better than existing "artificial solutions" in the long run.
@Dave: You are absolutely right that taking a dismissive attitude towards exploration of natural products as substitutes for industrial products is short sighted. Maybe this particular strain doesn't stand toe to toe with the industrial offering, but hopefully over time, with some research and exploration, it will.
This is an interesting development indeed. But my question is how well does it prevent corrosion in an evironment of saturated salt solution, which is more typical of the road salt contamination in this southeast corner of Michigan. Our salt is more brutal than seawater, and it is present about half of the year, until it all washes away.
My other question is about the economics of the process as compared to other methods of protection.
Chuck, at present it's a potential OEM or aftermarket anti-corrosive coating on aluminum alloys used on automotive and aerospace components. Whether it could be incorporated into other materials hasn't been determined yet.
@Ann: Thanks for the data. It looks like this coating will reduce the corrosion rate by a factor of about 3.5 at the highest concentration.
I agree with you that a dismissive attitude towards natural products is a prejudice we can ill afford. That being said, it looks like, in this case, the performance of the natural product doesn't match the performance of industrial products.
More often than not, with the purchase of a sports car comes the sacrifice of any sort of utility. In other words, you can forget about a large trunk, extra seats for the kids, and more importantly driving in snowy (or inclement) weather. But what if there was a vehicle that offered the best of both worlds; great handling and practicality?
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.