The architectural design of smart ventilation and drainage systems in termite nests

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Title: The architectural design of smart ventilation and drainage systems in termite nests
Authors: Singh, K
Muljadi, B
Raeini, AQ
Jost, C
Vandeginste, V
Blunt, MJ
Theraulaz, G
Degond, P
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Termite nests have been widely studied as effective examples for ventilation and thermoregulation;however, the mechanisms by which the nest properties are controlled by the micro-structure of the outer walls remain unclear. Here, we combine multi-scale X-ray imaging with three-dimensional flow field simulations to investigate the impact of the architectural design of nest walls on CO2and heat transport as well as on water drainage. We show that termites construct an outer wall that contains both small and percolating large pores at the micro-scale. The network of larger micro-scale pores in the outer wall provides a permeability that is 1-2 orders of magnitude greater than that of the smaller pores, andaCO2diffusivitythat is a factor of up to eight times larger. The largerpores and resultant high porosity also reduce the solid mass required for nest construction by ~11-14%. This is energetically favorable and reduces the overall weight of the nest, thus lowering the risk of collapse. In addition, the pore network offers enhanced thermal insulation to the inner parts of the nest and allows quick drainage ofrainwater thereby restoring the ventilation and providing structural stability to the wet nest.
Issue Date: 1-Mar-2019
Date of Acceptance: 7-Jan-2019
ISSN: 2375-2548
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Journal / Book Title: Science Advances
Volume: 5
Issue: 3
Copyright Statement: © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Sponsor/Funder: The Royal Society
Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)
Funder's Grant Number: WM130048
Keywords: Science & Technology
Multidisciplinary Sciences
Science & Technology - Other Topics
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2019-03-22
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Engineering
Earth Science and Engineering
Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Physics
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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