Development of helical, fish-inspired cross-step filter for collecting harmful algae

Bioinspir Biomim. 2019 Jul 29;14(5):056008. doi: 10.1088/1748-3190/ab2d13.


A new filter was developed to collect harmful algae colonies by adapting the cross-step filtration structures and mechanisms discovered recently in filter-feeding fish. Extending beyond previously published models that closely emulated the basic morphology of the fish, the new cross-step filter's major innovations are helical slots, radial symmetry, and rotation as an active anti-clogging mechanism. These innovations enable the transport of concentrated particles to the downstream end of the filter. This advance was made possible by recognizing that biologically imposed constraints such as bilateral symmetry do not apply to human-made filters. The use of helical slots was developed in a series of iterative tests that used water-tracing dye and algae-sized microspheres. The major products of the iterative tests were refinements in the helical design and an understanding of how varying the major structural parameters qualitatively influenced fluid flow and filter performance. Following the iterative tests, the clogging behavior of select filters was quantified at high particle concentrations. Vortices in the helical filter were effective at reducing clogging in the center of the slots. By considering the design space that is free of the biological constraints on the system and exploring the effects of variations in major structural parameters, our work has identified promising new directions for cross-step filtration and provided key insights into the biological system.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomimetic Materials / chemistry*
  • Eutrophication / physiology*
  • Fishes / anatomy & histology*
  • Rotation