Scientists Develop New Rubber Coating To Keep Ice Off Airplanes And Car Windshields

Posted: Mar 12 2016, 1:52am CST | by , Updated: Mar 13 2016, 8:45pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Scientists Develop New Rubber Coating to Keep Ice off Airplanes and Car Windshields
Credit: University of Michigan

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The new ice-repellent coating is cheap, inexpensive and durable.

Ice accumulated on an airplane or car windshield is unsafe for the travelers. Minor ice melts quickly but for removing massive ice accumulation, manual scarping or chemical melting agents are used and these conventional methods are either difficult or expensive.

Now, researchers from University of Michigan have created a coating that is durable, inexpensive and feels rubbery to touch. If sprayed, the rubbery coating can keep the ice off the car windshields, airplanes, wind turbines and oil rigs. The coating can prove a better alternate to current de-icing methods and could help save millions of dollars of the industries like energy, shipping and transportation which ice is a constant problem in cold seasons.

The new ice-repelling coating can also lead to more improved household and industrial freezers and make them up to 20% more efficient.

“Researchers have been trying for years to dial down ice adhesion strength with chemistry, making more and more water-repellent surface,” said co researcher Kevin Golovin. “We’ve discovered a new knob to turn, using physics to change the mechanics of how ice breaks free from a surface.”

Researchers tried out various water-repelling surfaces but observed that rubbery coating works best in shedding ice.

“Nobody had explored the idea that rubberiness can reduce ice adhesion,” said lead researcher professor Anish Tuteja. “Ice is frozen water, so people assumed that ice-repelling surfaces had to also repel water. That was very limiting.”

Conventional coatings rely on fragile materials that may be more ice-repellent but they tend to lose their ice-shedding ability quickly while harder coatings are more durable but less effective.

“An airplane coating, for example, would need to be extremely durable, but it could be less ice repellent because of high winds and vibration that would help push ice off,” said Golovin. “A freezer coating, on the other hand, could be less durable, but would need to shed ice with just the force of gravity and slight vibrations.”

To solve this problem, researchers tried hundreds of formulas and came up with a coating which is durable, effective yet cheap.

“The great thing about our approach is that it’s easy to fine-tune it for any given application.”

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