Certain long beaked shorebirds have been shown to be able to move water upwards into their mouths by ‘scissoring’ their beaks together. Opening and closing the beak causes food-filled droplets to ratchet upwards against gravity.
Today’s invention is to exploit this effect in a self-priming pump. One of the difficulties in designing such pumps, which have to draw eg water upwards without first being filled, is that they have to suck air for a long time, requiring high performance air seals. If you are raising dirty water, this sealing is even more difficult to maintain.
A pump might consist of an array of simulated beaks, each electrically driven to open and close and thus draw liquid (with the right surface tension) up into a plenum. This would allow liquid to be raised, as a sequence of small droplets, through an arbitrary height.
Once in the plenum, a simpler conventional pump could take over. If the liquid were to change in surface tension, the system could sense this (by the fall in flowrate) and automatically adjust the angle between the halves of the ‘beaks’.