Carbon-Nanotube Coating Stops Icing on Aircraft

March 2, 2010
Carbon-nanotube coating stops icing on aircraft.
Battelle Memorial Institute, www. battelle.org

Icing on aircraft present a danger on all sorts of aircraft. For example, it’s estimated 12% of military UAV flights have been cancelled due to icing conditions. Traditionally, the way to solve this problem is with bleed-air systems that heat the leading edge of the wing to melt ice, mechanical boots that inflate to break off ice, or weeping-wing devices that release antifreeze onto the wings. But these approaches are too complex or heavy for UAVs, and can draw too much power. A new approach developed by engineers at the Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio, involves coating at-risk surfaces with carbon nanotubes using simple and inexpensive painting methods. The coating, which weighs 1% of current ice-protection schemes, is energized by the aircraft’s electrical system. This heats the nanotubes and stops ice from forming or gets rid of any ice that has. The technology could also find use windmill blades ice-free.

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