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Coating could prevent airframe ice formation


Researchers in Japan have developed a coating that can be painted onto airplanes that prevents ice from forming in flight. The coating is made of microscopic particles of a material similar to Teflon, forming a hydrophobic layer that water can’t attach to. That means super-cooled water droplets would simply slide off the wing in flight, instead of freezing on contact and accumulating into clear or mixed ice. The material works on a microscopic scale because water droplets need a molecularly smooth surface to stick to, but the Teflon particles create a rough surface. Only a small amount of energy from air flowing over the wings is then needed to dislodge the water droplets. The researchers are in the early stages of refining the material and haven’t tried it in flight tests yet.