A Deicing Alternative Is ... Soot?

A report in the current issue of The Economist discusses an alternative to aircraft deicing developed by Dawid Janas, of Cambridge University:

"Janas, a materials scientist and aviation buff, thinks he has found a way to make life easier for passengers and airlines. It involves covering aircraft wings with soot.

"Not any old soot, mind you. Mr Janas creates his by pumping methane into a furnace heated to around 1,200ºC. There, in the presence of an iron catalyst, the gas coalesces into a sticky substance akin to candyfloss, called an aerogel. When an iron poker is inserted into the furnace, the aerogel sticks to it. As the rod is retracted, it pulls out a thin filament, which is spun on a winder to create a film. Ten minutes later you get a sooty equivalent of an A4 sheet of paper."

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