Manta rays suggest new water filter technology to scientists

Most water filters work on the principle of a sieve, which allows water molecules to pass through while blocking the passage of harmful impurities dissolved in it. The problem is that over time the filters become clogged with captured particles and become unusable.

The solution to the problem has once again been suggested by nature. The attention of scientists at the University of Oregon (USA) was attracted by the manta ray or the giant sea devil. Some of its individuals reach a length of 4.5 meters and weigh up to 3 tons. Despite its formidable name and impressive size, this marine animal is absolutely safe for people, since it feeds exclusively on plankton.

It is known that fish that feed by filtering water first swallow water and then push it through their gills. At the outlet, the water passes through closely spaced gill combs, where plankton gets stuck, collects, and then swallows.

Scientists have noticed that in manta rays, the gill combs are shaped like long parallel arrays of leaf-shaped lobes. The water "squeezed" through the gills, passing through the combs, forms swirls, as a result of which the plankton rebounds from them directly into the mouth of the stingray.

In essence, this design is a versatile filter that repels particles rather than traps them - thereby avoiding clogging at high water flow rates.

Scientists are currently considering adapting this natural filtration mechanism for utility systems.