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Researchers Find Way to Keep Metal Surfaces Free of Ice

By - Source: Harvard University | B 28 comments

Researchers at Harvard University claim to have invented a unique coating for materials that can entirely prevent ice formation on metal surfaces.

Under deep-freezing conditions the technology can prevent ice accumulation for a longer time, reducing the amount of ice and alleviating the effect of adhesion as the ice easily slides off the metal surface.

Called SLIP, short for Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces, the Harvard researchers have come up with an ice-repellent, non-toxic coating that has a defect-free, molecularly flat liquid interface and is immobilized using a hidden nano-structured solid that keeps the liquid in place. According to the scientists, the liquid can be applied to a range of different products, including airplane wings, roofing, railings, or cooling fins.

"This new approach to icephobic materials is a truly disruptive idea that offers a way to make a transformative impact on energy and safety costs associated with ice, and we are actively working with the refrigeration and aviation industries to bring it to market," said Joanna Aizenberg, professor of materials science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The icephobic coating is believed to be extremely effective especially in environments with substantial humidity. On airplane wings or roofs, ice buildup that could occur under extreme conditions could simply slide off by tilting a structure or via "slight agitation," vibration or wind.

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  • 18 Hide
    memadmax , June 18, 2012 11:07 AM
    This is a boon for aircraft.
    First the obvious safety that comes from this: Ice can form at high elevations, northern areas etc etc resulting in the risk of crashes.
    Second the not so obvious. This will mean that aircraft will no longer need to carry heaters on the wings or not as many heaters. Resulting in a lighter aircraft that requires less fuel or can carry more people/cargo or both.
    This can also mean that the engines of aircraft will not need heaters as well, resulting in lighter engines/more efficient engines.
  • 14 Hide
    memadmax , June 18, 2012 11:11 AM
    Also, this could have been used on the tanks of the space shuttle... Preventing at least one disaster and possibly saving the shuttle program itself. After the second shuttle was lost, too many politicians got emotional about it.... *Each* space shuttle was designed to go 100 missions a piece... we did 134 missions.. total... what a waste....
  • 10 Hide
    christarp , June 18, 2012 9:32 AM
    Hope for the crabbers of deadliest catch.
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    christarp , June 18, 2012 9:32 AM
    Hope for the crabbers of deadliest catch.
  • 18 Hide
    memadmax , June 18, 2012 11:07 AM
    This is a boon for aircraft.
    First the obvious safety that comes from this: Ice can form at high elevations, northern areas etc etc resulting in the risk of crashes.
    Second the not so obvious. This will mean that aircraft will no longer need to carry heaters on the wings or not as many heaters. Resulting in a lighter aircraft that requires less fuel or can carry more people/cargo or both.
    This can also mean that the engines of aircraft will not need heaters as well, resulting in lighter engines/more efficient engines.
  • 14 Hide
    memadmax , June 18, 2012 11:11 AM
    Also, this could have been used on the tanks of the space shuttle... Preventing at least one disaster and possibly saving the shuttle program itself. After the second shuttle was lost, too many politicians got emotional about it.... *Each* space shuttle was designed to go 100 missions a piece... we did 134 missions.. total... what a waste....
  • -6 Hide
    molo9000 , June 18, 2012 11:19 AM
    memadmaxThis is a boon for aircraft.First the obvious safety that comes from this: Ice can form at high elevations, northern areas etc etc resulting in the risk of crashes.Second the not so obvious. This will mean that aircraft will no longer need to carry heaters on the wings or not as many heaters. Resulting in a lighter aircraft that requires less fuel or can carry more people/cargo or both. This can also mean that the engines of aircraft will not need heaters as well, resulting in lighter engines/more efficient engines.


    Aren't aircraft beginning to use composite materials instead of metal?
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , June 18, 2012 12:05 PM
    molo9000Aren't aircraft beginning to use composite materials instead of metal?


    They're so expensive that they take a while for the older aircraft (70's and 80's) to be replaced, and it doesn't help that the airline industry is trying to delay replacements to save money.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , June 18, 2012 1:29 PM
    The leading edge is still a metallic Component (the substructure though can be composite), it has to withstand alot of abuse and fatigue as well as undergoing alot of repairs, servicing and replacements (which composite aren't so great at), it also only accounts for 1 tenth of the Mass of the wing and is where ice build up more frequently occurs due to direct exposure to the air stream
  • -7 Hide
    clivene09 , June 18, 2012 1:41 PM
    memadmaxThis is a boon for aircraft.First the obvious safety that comes from this: Ice can form at high elevations, northern areas etc etc resulting in the risk of crashes.Second the not so obvious. This will mean that aircraft will no longer need to carry heaters on the wings or not as many heaters. Resulting in a lighter aircraft that requires less fuel or can carry more people/cargo or both. This can also mean that the engines of aircraft will not need heaters as well, resulting in lighter engines/more efficient engines.


    Could I ask where you got the number 100 from? I ask because I remember after the challenger disaster a teacher of mine saying that they estimated 25 missions per vessel before the risk of disaster. Seems that numbers can be completely arbitrary if you ask me.
  • 0 Hide
    willard , June 18, 2012 1:46 PM
    If anybody's ever wondered what those black strips on airplane wings and bodies are, they're ice detector strips. They have a rough, tacky texture so one of the line crew can take a long pole and scrape them with it. If it slides easily then you've got "black ice" (a thin layer of totally transparent ice) on the aircraft, and you've got to defrost it before taking off. If you don't, the ice can break free during flight, get sucked into the engine and cause a flameout.
  • 2 Hide
    willard , June 18, 2012 1:52 PM
    clivene09Could I ask where you got the number 100 from? I ask because I remember after the challenger disaster a teacher of mine saying that they estimated 25 missions per vessel before the risk of disaster. Seems that numbers can be completely arbitrary if you ask me.

    The initial estimates were hopelessly optimistic. NASA envisioned something similar to an airliner, launching as frequently as every two weeks.

    The realities of the expense and difficulty in getting them ready for launch resulted in a much longer turnaround time, with the record being two launches for one shuttle in 54 days. After Challenger, they added even more safety precautions, and launches were even less frequent, with the post challenger record being twice in 88 days.
  • -1 Hide
    vmem , June 18, 2012 1:54 PM
    FYI, for the record, it's SLIPS instead of SLIP (doesn't sound as good I know...)

    and could make for some interesting reverse phase cooling designs LOL
  • 4 Hide
    lamorpa , June 18, 2012 2:28 PM
    memadmaxAlso, this could have been used on the tanks of the space shuttle... Preventing at least one disaster and possibly saving the shuttle program itself. After the second shuttle was lost, too many politicians got emotional about it.... *Each* space shuttle was designed to go 100 missions a piece... we did 134 missions.. total... what a waste....

    Um, what? The space shuttle Challenger was destroyed in 1986 because of a solid rocket booster "O" ring failure, in part caused by low temperatures at launch. The space shuttle Columbia was destroyed on reentry in 2003, cause attributed to the left wing being hit by a piece of foam from the Space Shuttle External Tank during launch. Ice had nothing to do with either disaster. What ice are you talking about?
  • 3 Hide
    TheBigTroll , June 18, 2012 2:32 PM
    this metal can help with the guys who do LN2 OC. yes, nasa originally planned for the space shuttles to have a 100 launches before replacement. in the end, the space shuttles never met their goal of providing cheaper flights to space (costs nearly the same to launching a regular rocket)
  • 6 Hide
    willard , June 18, 2012 2:38 PM
    lamorpaUm, what? The space shuttle Challenger was destroyed in 1986 because of a solid rocket booster "O" ring failure, in part caused by low temperatures at launch. The space shuttle Columbia was destroyed on reentry in 2003, cause attributed to the left wing being hit by a piece of foam from the Space Shuttle External Tank during launch. Ice had nothing to do with either disaster. What ice are you talking about?

    I assume he was just a bit confused about Challenger. The failure was the result of the o-ring being too cold and becoming brittle. It wasn't actually ice, of course, but it was frozen. This technology would have done nothing to prevent it.
  • 0 Hide
    K2N hater , June 18, 2012 3:06 PM
    TheBigTrollthis metal can help with the guys who do LN2 OC. yes, nasa originally planned for the space shuttles to have a 100 launches before replacement. in the end, the space shuttles never met their goal of providing cheaper flights to space (costs nearly the same to launching a regular rocket)

    OK No more ice during suicide LN2 runs.... But then what do we do with the water?
  • 1 Hide
    lamorpa , June 18, 2012 3:14 PM
    K2N haterOK No more ice during suicide LN2 runs.... But then what do we do with the water?

    The water would, of course, run off. I think the savings could be that the tanks would not have to be as insulated if they did not get 'frosted', saving weight and space?
  • 0 Hide
    kristoffe , June 18, 2012 3:51 PM
    door handles in cold environments and other items like walkways would benefit from it. there are probably interior things like engine parts and such that would also benefit from this
  • 0 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , June 18, 2012 4:29 PM
    PR teams need to get off this "disruptive" kick. As soon as I read that word I just roll my eyes an go on to the next story.
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