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The best ice-repellent coating invented so far

23 marzo 2017

Glazed frost, is a smooth, transparent and homogeneous ice coating occurring when freezing rain hits a surface. Its effects can be seen in plants but also in Power lines, cars windshields, and aircrafts wings.

Glazed frost, is a smooth, transparent and homogeneous ice coating occurring when freezing rain hits a surface. Its effects can be seen in plants but also in Power lines, cars windshields, and aircrafts wings. Sometimes some of these effects can be dangerous. For instance, Power lines coated with ice can become very heavy and break. Planes icing can increase its weight, stalling speed and reducing the aircraft overall performance, making it very difficult to climb or even maintain altitude.

Colorado State University researchers have invented an ice-repellent coating that out-performs today's best de-icing products. This innovation, described in the Journal of Materials Chemistry, is a gel-based, soft coating made out of PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane), a silicone polymer gel with already widespread industrial use. It is an environmentally friendly, inexpensive, long-lasting coating that could keep everything from cars and ships to planes and power lines ice-free.

The team of researchers is led by Arun Kota, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering. This gel-based coating has been tested in different experiments where a careful analysis of ice adhesion mechanics has been carried out.
The performance measure of de-icing coatings is called ice adhesion strength and is measured in kilopascals (kPa). Kota's team demonstrated ice adhesion strength for their coating of about 5 kPa (lower is better in this case), whereas soft coatings available on the market have ice adhesion strength of about 40 kPa. Other types of de-icing coatings made of rigid materials like teflon perform at around 100 kPa. It is important to note the difference between de-icing and anti-icing. The first facilitates the removal of ice once formed in a surface. The second delays the formation of ice.

Permanent protection

The aviation industry alone uses 76 million litres of de-icing chemicals each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Today liquid de-icers (ethylene glycol or propylene glycol) are sprayed on frozen planes before take-off all over the world and they work well. But there are some drawbacks: these products should be applied repeatedly, and they leach into groundwater, raising environmental concerns. Kota's team has explained that the new product could provide an environmentally friendly, high-performance alternative to the use of toxic liquid de-icers, since it would be applied as a more permanent protective coating.

  @equiplast

 

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