Big creatures of the ocean, such as whales and seals, use thick layers of blubber to keep them warm. On the other side, smaller mammals like otters and beavers have a different method: Their thick fur, which traps warm air bubbles to save their body from cold waters.
Engineers from MIT have made a wet-suit that is trying to replicate a similar feature, having hairy layer made of rubber to help surfers and divers.
They were researching for similar traits needed for wetsuits, agility. Beavers and otters were a perfect example because they stayed warm while still keeping their nimble and agile form. Since their pelts didn't keep that much water coming out of it, it was a perfect clue for the engineers to help get rid of the excessive water.It took some further research to understand exact mechanics of the fur trapping air in the dense underfur below it.
Published in the journal Physical Review Fluids
, their results revealed that the animal's diving speed and the spacing of every individual hair made an effect on how much air the surface would trap. They made a simulation with the fur, which served as a tube in a computer equation, which resulted with a mathematical model of trapping diverse amounts of air, and with it, warmth.
"We have now quantified the design space and can say, 'If you have this kind of hair density and length and are diving at these speeds, these designs will trap air, and these will not.' Which is the information you need if you're going to design a wet-suit."