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New technology could eliminate airframe icing

19-06-2012

Imagine flying through clouds for hours on end up the middle of a winter cold front, an never having to flip on the de-ice switch or worry about clear ice building up behind the leading edges of the wings. A group of researchers at Harvard say they’ve found a way to treat metal surfaces to make them impervious to ice buildup. The two-stage technique first involves applying a thin, porous nanostructure coating to existing metal surfaces, like a wing or vertical stabilizer. Next, a liquid lubricant coats that surface, filling in every imperfection and creating a totally smooth surface as it solidifies. Any ice that forms on a vertical surface immediately falls off, since there are no molecular valleys or peaks to which the ice can adhere. The slightest force – like propwash – makes ice slide off horizontal surfaces as well. Unlike current de-icing technologies, which protect only critical flight surfaces, this coating could be applied to the entire wing and fuselage of a plane. So far, the coating has only been tested in lab settings.

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2012/06/ultra-antifreeze-prevents-ice-from-even-forming/

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