µMist spray technology

Inspired by nature

Bombardier beetle spraying its boiling hot, toxic fluidIt needs this defence because of its vulnerability of the ground.

The bombardier beetle, which sprays its predators with toxic steam, inspired research into a new generation of technology at the University of Leeds. This has resulted in the unique µMist™ technology - which has the potential to become the platform for the next generation of more effective and eco-friendly mist carrier systems.

Efficient and environmentally-friendly technology

The technology has multiple potential applications - such as new aerosols, nebulisers, needle-free injections, fire extinguishers and powerful fuel injection systems - all more efficient and environmentally-friendly than existing technologies.

Leeds Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory, Andy McIntosh, from the University's Faculty of Engineering, began studying the bombardier beetle in 2001, with a number of MSc students.  Just 2cm long, the beetle defends itself against frogs, spiders, birds and insects - with a cocktail of steam and stinging chemicals which it can blast for distances of up to 20cm."I've always been fascinated by mechanisms in nature and this beetle seemed to have its own combustion mechanism... So the project combined my interest in nature along with my core disciplines of combustion and thermodynamics," says Professor McIntosh.

A range of potential applications 

The result of over nine years research, collaboration and commercialisation - is a new range of technologies for creating and optimising sprays, controlling droplet size, temperature, droplet size distribution, throw distance and velocity.  This has allowed advancements in a variety of application areas where the properties of a spray or mist are critical. The biomimetics technology company, Swedish Biomimetics 3000® now have an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement for the µMist® platform technology.

The µMist® technology is now being harnessed by the auto industry. CEO of Swedish Biomimetics 3000®, Dr Andrew Copestake, explains: "There's a huge drive to increase engine efficiency and manufacturers are looking for ways to make existing technologies more efficient. They're also investigating new technologies that will enable them to satisfy both consumer and regulatory demand for lower fuel consumption, greener engine technologies and better performance all round."

Award winning

November 2010 saw the µMist® platform consortium - in the face of extremely tough competition -  win the Times Higher Education Award for "Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology" - an accolade which recognises outstanding potential in discoveries and developments across the UK's higher education sector.

For further information please contact Professor Andy McIntosh

Visit the Swedish Biomimetics website