Nov. 29 - A metallic maze which demonstrates the so-called 'Leidenfrost effect' could help inspire the development of a new wave of non-electric thermostats. In physics, the 'Leidenfrost effect'' allows water droplets to travel upwards on heated surfaces, a phenomenon scientists in the UK believe could become the basis of new engineering systems. Jim Drury went to see it in action.
UPSOT: WATER VAPOURISING This maze video has become an internet sensation..... UPSOT: WATER VAPOURISING ....But its creators at the University of Bath believe it could also inspire the creation of more efficient non-electric thermostats. UPSOT: WATER VAPOURISING The maze demonstrates the so-called Leidenfrost effect... SOUNDBITE (English) KEI TAKASHINA, ACADEMIC FELLOW AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BATH IN DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS, SAYING: "If you put a droplet somewhere on the maze it will follow a pre-determined path and go round the maze, and I'll quickly show you that. So if I put droplets here you can see that the droplet goes round this loop through this zigzag path and then all the way round and it'll keep continuing to go." Lecturer Kei Takashina is fascinated by the effect. So are his students Carmen Cheng and Matthew Guy, who created the maze to get children interested in physics. The Leidenfrost effect occurs when liquid touches a surface significantly hotter than its boiling point. A vapour barrier separates the water from the surface. Cheng and Guy found they could change the droplets' direction via subtle temperature changes. They also made droplets climb up surfaces with jagged teeth - the sharper the teeth, the steeper the incline. Takashina says their findings could lead to a new generation of non-electric thermostats and is working on producing a prototype by next summer. He thinks the Leidenfrost Effect could even inspire safer cooling systems in nuclear power stations. SOUNDBITE (English) KEI TAKASHINA, ACADEMIC FELLOW AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BATH IN DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS, SAYING: "If you remember the nuclear disaster in Fukushima what happened there was that the tsunami knocked out the power generators that run the pumps to cool the reactors. So even though the power plant makes energy and makes electricity it can't control its own temperature without electricity. And so here if you can have a system that cools the system without any extra power then this will be an advantage." The Leidenfrost Effect was named after German doctor Johann Gottlob Leidenfrost who brought it to scientists' attention in the 18th Century. But by giving the science a modern spin, Takashina and his team hope their amazing maze will inspire a new era of brilliant engineering ideas. UPSOT: WATER VAPOURISING