Bioinspired liquid handling with the TreeFlow technology

Controlling fluid flow is a difficult, yet important, task with applications ranging from biomedicine across food processing to infrastructure. State-of-the-art technology relies on a combination of electromechanical valves, pumps, and sensors controlled by a centralized computational unit. These allow for highly sophisticated spatiotemporal management of flow rate and direction. However, they are expensive to produce and maintain.

The liquid flow regulation systems developed by the TreeFlow team at the Technical University of Denmark utilize a novel approach to producing controlled flow. By substituting flexible elements for the electromechanical actuators, our device exploits plant-inspired fluid-structure interactions to control flow. This permits high degrees of fluid flow control in a passive system, and obviates the need for sensors, actuators, and feedback loops. Moreover, these devices are relatively inexpensive.

Our first device is targeted at peristaltic pumps, a technology where rollers compress a tube as they rotate, thus pushing the liquid through the tube. This inexpensive and reliable pumping technology is widely used across a myriad of industries. A significant pain of peristaltic pumps, however, is the pulsating output flow. Inspired by plants, we have developed a new way of removing the ripples.

“TreeFlow” (patent pending) is now available for testing.

Contact: Kaare H. Jensen,, +45 2231 5241

Journal publications

Viscous flow in a slit between two elastic plates. Anneline H. Christensen and Kaare H. Jensen. Phys. Rev. Fluids 5, 044101 (2020) journal

Bending and stretching of soft pores enable passive control of fluid flows, J-F. Louf, J. Knoblauch, and K. H. Jensen, Physical Review Letters 125, 098101(2020) journal

Viscous flow in a soft valve
K. Park, Aude Tixier, A. H. Christensen, S. F. Arnbjerg-Nielsen, M. A. Zwieniecki, and K. H. Jensen. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 836 doi:10.1017/jfm.2017.805 (2018) journal pdf