Dave Hirschman

The end of aircraft icing?

February 8, 2013 by Dave Hirschman, Senior Editor

I know next to nothing about nanotechnology — but this video about a new type of hydrophobic coating that repels water has me excited about potential aerospace applications. Could we simply coat our aircraft with this type of chemical and make them shed water, ice, and maybe even bugs?

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9 Responses to “The end of aircraft icing?”

  1. Andrew Says:

    If it really works, that would sure be a dramatically less expensive way to deter ice on wings. The FAQ’s claim the product is functional at “Anti-Icing – The superhydrophobic properties of Ultra-Ever dry keeps coated materials completely dry, eliminating the formation of ice” and says it is functional down to -30F. I am not experienced in those temperatures, but wouldn’t that be helpful at least for a good fraction of flights of lower altitude aircraft, the kind least likely to be FIKI equipped?

    How about reporting further on this?

  2. James Holtom Says:

    If you view the application video, it summarizes by saying the coating will be damaged by detergents, solvents and high pressure water sprays. An aircraft wing flying through precipitation is exposed to conditions as extreme as a high pressure water spray. I doubt that the coating will be sufficiently durable.

  3. Andrew Says:

    Good catch.

    I also found some research in 2010 that showed that while it may deter *liquid* water from attaching to a freezing metal surface, that does not address the formation of frost, i.e. water vapor that condenses directly into ice. For that, more development is needed, but may yet be possible.

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2010/frost-formation-1222.html

    Also may be much more expensive than I thought, but probably still less than de-ice gear.

  4. John D Bos Says:

    I have been watching this product with great curiosity for several years now. It seems to hold great promise and miracle-like qualities.

    Your right James, durability is a big question, and the product data so far has indicated it is resistant to high pressure water. On the product development page for NeverWet (http://www.neverwet.com/anti-wetting.php) it states “Even under extreme conditions like high pressure spray, they maintain their superhydrophobic characteristics.”

    It’s interesting to see a contradictory statement in this latest video. I suspect they do not want us to rely on it for aircraft anti icing even though it probably is quite effective.

    “Additionally certain solvents, alcohols and soap/detergents will cause the
    surface of the coating to “wet-out”. Once these chemicals are
    removed, the superhydrophobicity will generally return.”

    Also cost may be an issue. It is initially selling for $520 / Gal which would cover approximately 150 sq ft. But will it last for several years or just a few flights? Maybe worth the insurance against an inadvertent icing event. But it’s real value for airplanes will need much more research.

    I suspect we will see a lot more about this product in aviation and many other industries in the next few years. It has potential to change many products for the better.

  5. Keith R. Wood Says:

    It may not solve the icing problem, but might be the cure for INTERNAL CORROSION. If the water vapor won’t stick, it won’t cause corrosion.

    The question is how well it sticks to bare, painted or anodized metal, how durable it is, whether vibration will affect it and if it has to be renewed periodically.

  6. Norman Davis Says:

    I did not see a demonstration of how this holds up in icing conditions. Each test was with warm or room temperature substances and in still air. The rubber meets the road (airfoil?) when it’s cold and fast movement.

    I agree that this could work well with internal corrosion. One must determine if this substance is corrosive to aluminum and other metals.

  7. Robert Gary Says:

    Norman. It’s unlikely to be corrosive since its original intended application was as a rust preventer. The idea is that if you could prevent water for adhering you can’t get rust or corrosion.

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  9. Mark Leuzinger Says:

    I tried this on a section of the wing and in heavy rain it didn’t last. It is hard to say if it could prevent icing. The other problem is it turns every thing a dull bluish gray which took some serious waxing to remove. Both warnings are in the instructions.

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