Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Mathematics

Chair in Applied Mathematics



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6M38Huxley BuildingSouth Kensington Campus






BibTex format

author = {Singh, K and Muljadi, B and Raeini, AQ and Jost, C and Vandeginste, V and Blunt, MJ and Theraulaz, G and Degond, P},
doi = {10.1126/sciadv.aat8520},
journal = {Science Advances},
title = {The architectural design of smart ventilation and drainage systems in termite nests},
url = {},
volume = {5},
year = {2019}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Termite nests have been widely studied as effective examples for ventilation and thermoregulation;however, the mechanisms by which the nest properties are controlled by the micro-structure of the outer walls remain unclear. Here, we combine multi-scale X-ray imaging with three-dimensional flow field simulations to investigate the impact of the architectural design of nest walls on CO2and heat transport as well as on water drainage. We show that termites construct an outer wall that contains both small and percolating large pores at the micro-scale. The network of larger micro-scale pores in the outer wall provides a permeability that is 1-2 orders of magnitude greater than that of the smaller pores, andaCO2diffusivitythat is a factor of up to eight times larger. The largerpores and resultant high porosity also reduce the solid mass required for nest construction by ~11-14%. This is energetically favorable and reduces the overall weight of the nest, thus lowering the risk of collapse. In addition, the pore network offers enhanced thermal insulation to the inner parts of the nest and allows quick drainage ofrainwater thereby restoring the ventilation and providing structural stability to the wet nest.
AU - Singh,K
AU - Muljadi,B
AU - Raeini,AQ
AU - Jost,C
AU - Vandeginste,V
AU - Blunt,MJ
AU - Theraulaz,G
AU - Degond,P
DO - 10.1126/sciadv.aat8520
PY - 2019///
SN - 2375-2548
TI - The architectural design of smart ventilation and drainage systems in termite nests
T2 - Science Advances
UR -
UR -
VL - 5
ER -