GE Global Research presented new findings on nanotextured anti-icing surfaces and coatings last week at the American Physical Society Conference in Boston. While there are many applications for this technology, aircraft are at the top of the list.
According to GE, these nano surfaces “dramatically” reduce ice adhesion and have also been shown to delay the onset of ice formation. In simulated atmospheric icing conditions, the delay was measured to be more than one minute. Scientists were inspired by research on the lotus plant, which has on the surface of its leaves a nanotextured wax that can repel water.
GE made it clear these technologies will require further development before they are “durable enough and ready for commercial applications.” There is hope they could one day reduce and possibly even eliminate the need for existing aircraft anti-icing measures.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 25 million gallons of deicing agents are applied to aircraft at U.S. commercial airports each year. The aviation industry is also using energy-intensive pneumatic and electric anti-icing systems on aircraft to prevent ice formation on wings and other surfaces.