Considering most of us are cooking in temperatures reaching into the 100s, de-icing might not be on many of our minds.
But we picked up some interesting posts from the Aircraft De-icing/Anti-icing LinkedIn Group after posting the news last week about Harvard researchers touting the possibilities of an ‘ice-phobic’ coating.
The coating works particularly well on aluminum surfaces so aircraft deicing applications are a natural.
Here are the basics of the research:
- A nano-structured surface is applied to aircraft wings.
- This surface has what the researchers call “SLIPS” – slippery, liquid-infused porous surfaces. Think tiny, tiny holes.
- Next, oil or any other liquid that does not mix with water sinks into these holes and naturally repels water.
- No water. No ice. The researchers say experimental analysis shows that the surface can stay ice-free down to 22 below zero.
While still in the realm of the possible rather than the commercial, the research is at least a start.
Over at the LinkedIn Group, here are some member comments:
“There remains a lot of questions about surface roughness and aerodynamic impact of these coatings not to mention the cost of acquisition and application onto existing aircraft and how these coatings would be applied in new aircraft construction processes. Of course, if these coatings are practical and affordable, it will turn the aircraft ground deicing industry on its head. The aircraft life-cycle is a long one and the cost throughout that life-cycle of deicing/anti-icing is enormous with today's methods and materials.”
“We need to see what are the next results in this research for aging of the coating, repair in case of damages, damage by of FOD, fuel consumption and a lot more. If it works, I expect another minimum 15 years before we see it in operation.”
“First one may need to separate the discussion between ground icing and in-flight icing … Ground icing is more in line with the ice phobicity claims. However the endurance of such a coating may not last more than a flight. Because of the current limited endurance the coatings would have to be reapplied often making this as cumbersome as current glycol based deicer processes.”
The full report is firewalled, but here's a link to a summary that includes illustrations and video.