CELERY HOLLOW STEM AS A TEMPLATE FOR BIOMIMETIC COMPOSITES AND TEXTILES Biological Approaches for Engineering Conference 17-19 March

C. Santulli Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Via Eudossiana 18, 00184 Rome, Italy T.J. Finn J.J.Thomson Physical Laboratory, University of Reading, Whiteknights, RG6 6AF, UK Abstract In this work, attention is drawn on the stem of a diffuse plant, the celery (Apium Graveolens), as an example of a plant structure that may inspire the design of biomimetic composites and textiles, for the presence of some inspirational, albeit by no means exclusive, characteristics. Some of these are in particular: the presence of a hollow stem, the co-existence of two types of plant cells with a range of different geometries, and the peripheral presence of collenchymal fibres. Electron microscopy has been used throughout to illustrate the above properties of celery stem as a template for composites.

1. Introduction Plant structures, forming by self-assembly starting from cells and tissues, can be interpreted as effectively engineered structures. This has been recognised by the outsourcing and patenting of the so-called “technical plant stem”, inspired principally on giant reed (Arundo donax) and horsetail (Equisetum hyemale), plants with stems showing high specific stiffness/tenacity and high oscillation damping (Milwich et al., 2006). The technical plant stem was aimed at rationalising inspirational approach from plants to engineered structures. More in general, the relation between plant structure and properties also suggests the possibility of using features from plant structures for the development of engineering materials. In particular, plant structures, which may be considered on the macroscale as optimised composites, can also be modelled on the microscale as natural honeycombs. Most recent studies on honeycomb moved away from traditional hexagonal cell structures, to acquire more complex properties e.g., auxetic (negative Poisson's ratio) behaviour (Scarpa et al., 2004). In nature, the most dense packaging of cells is obtained maximising the cell to cell wall contact area with a Kelvin model, where every cell has 14 flat faces (Niklas 1992). In practice, however, natural honeycombs include variations in cell shapes, cell wall thickness and Presented at the Biological Approaches for Engineering Conference, held 17-19 March 2008 at University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

the co-existence of two types of plant cells (mainly vascular cells. An example of quasi-spontaneous tissues using plant fibres is provided in Vogl & Hartl. Southampton. 2005. In particular. A first classification of cell geometries could be according to the values of the equivalent diameter of the cells. Conclusions The structure of celery plant stem has been presented as an example of a plant structure which may be inspirational for the development of biomimetic materials. the Presented at the Biological Approaches for Engineering Conference. albeit minor. 2005). comprising phloem and xylem. cell geometries distribution have a significant effect on the mode of failure of open cells solids. to be as distant as possible from the neutral axis. 2007). UK . 2003. suggest their use as a reinforcement: this has been tried in Caneva et al. and parenchymal cells) with a range of different geometries can suggest possibilities of auxetic or newtonian behaviour for different parts of the cellular material and possible self-healing of the material (Figure 3). like the one in Figure 1. in particular relating the position of damage.waviness. rather than in artificially ordered structure. excluding the epidermis. most plant fibres used as a reinforcement of composites so far are constituted mainly of sclerenchymal tissue. as it is available already for wood (Teeri et al. The peripheral presence of fibres made. A significant mechanical importance is also offered by the variety in geometry of plant cells. the celery stem is a tubular cellular structure. with different degrees of elongation and uneven wall thickening (Figure 4). resulting in improved fibres wettability. according to the spiral angle. a more rational use may need exploiting the possibility for fibres to undergo high deformations to failure. As observed in Onck et al. this would lead to establishing a kind of taxonomy for cell walls types. trying to achieve different mechanical properties. the presence in the plant of a hollow stem allows most of the material... In the cellular structure. This would possibly increase the compatibility of the fibres with polymer matrices. In particular. Also. involves in its structure wall thickening via the presence of spiral structures. when loaded. but limits their ultimate strain. This would eventually bring to relating the different cell wall geometries with the required structural behaviour. However. or notch. which allows the possibility to vary in a suitable way the weight of the material by modifying the distribution of voids.. In fact. it is also worthy considering that every hollow in a “technical plant stem” template. as required by the plant structure (Grenestedt. according to imposed angles. as typical of the collenchyma. 3. from collenchymal tissue. In the long run. 2007. which offers higher stiffness. However. to the dimensions of cell struts. Main “inspirational” features in celery plant stem In engineering terms. while a further classification would possibly involve a measurement of the cell wall thickness variations for every cell. 2. collenchymal fibres in celery represent portions of plant tissue including a number of cell geometries. held 17-19 March 2008 at University of Southampton. The combined presence of linear and spiral structures (Figure 2) would also give the possibility of combining the fibres in quasi-spontaneous tissues with non-constant weave grid dimensions.

effect of combined presence of spiral and linear symmetries. 38 (2). 5821-5828. Hartl A. Daniel G. Sarasini F. 1992. Journal of Materials Science. 280-289. Milwich M. De Hosson J T M. UK . Production and processing of organically grown fiber nettle (Urtica dioica L. On interactions between imperfections in cellular solids. Yates J R. 93 (10). 2007. Vogl C R. Scarpa F. Teeri T T. Gatnholm P. 40 (22). Planck H. De Rosa I M. 299-305. 25 (7). Onck P R. held 17-19 March 2008 at University of Southampton. Effect of untreated celery fibres on epoxy matrix composites. Plant Biomechanics: An Engineering Approach to Plant Form and Function. Perrott D. Stegmaier T. 1455-1465. Lew T. Accepted by International Journal of Materials and Product Technology. Speck T. Trends in Biotechnology. Composites Part A. Speck O. Southampton. References Caneva C. Raaijmakers A. Grenestedt J L. The University of Chicago press.) and its potential use in the natural textile industry: A review. Fracture of open-and closedcell metal foams. Journal of Materials Science. 2005. American Journal of Botany 2006. July 2007. and the possibility of widely varying the weight and behaviour of the structure through the presence of a large number of cell geometries is discussed. 2003. Van Merkerk R. Figure 1 Spiral structures in one of the hollows of the parenchymal tissue Presented at the Biological Approaches for Engineering Conference. 2005. 119-128. 5853-5857.. 40. Niklas K J. Ruzzene M. Biomimetic engineering of cellulose-based materials. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture. Santulli C. 18 (3). Brumer III H. 622 p. Blaine S. 2007. ISBN: 978-0-226-58630-4. Elastic buckling of hexagonal chiral cell honeycombs. Biomimetics and technical textiles: Solving engineering problems with the help of nature's wisdom.

Figure 2 Different types of cells and interaction of spiral and linear symmetries Figure 3 Vascular and parenchymal cells with different geometries Figure 4 Collenchymal tissue fibre with different cell geometries Presented at the Biological Approaches for Engineering Conference. UK . Southampton. held 17-19 March 2008 at University of Southampton.

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