Harvard Engineers Develop 'Ice-Phobic' Coating

Nanotechnology could be used to deice aircraft and protect other surfaces exposed to icy conditions


The Wall Street Journal reported in the June 22 edition of its Ideas Market blog that Harvard engineers have developed a possible way to repel ice from alumium surfaces exposed to harsh elements.

"Our surfaces remain essentially frost-free in which any conventional materials accumulate ice," the report states. "These results indicate ... a promising candidate for developing robust anti-icing materials for broad applications, such as refrigeration, aviation, roofs, wires, outdoor signs, railings and wind turbines."

Using aircraft deicing as our example, the Journal explains the findings this way:

  • A highly porous fabricated surface sits atop the wing. This engineered coating uses nanotechnology to essentially create bumps or fibers.
  • Any liquid that doesn't mix with water, such as oil, covers the porous surface.
  • The structure of fibers or bumps is what locks the liquid in place.
  • The liquid prevents ice from attaching to the wing.

"On the basis of a theoretical analysis followed by extensive icing/deicing experiments ... our surfaces remain essentially frost-free in which any conventional materials accumulate ice," the reports states.

The full report is firewalled, but here's a link to a summary that inlcudes illustrations and video.

 

 

 

 

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