No Scraper Required: Ice Rolls Off Metal
Thoughts of deicing plane wings are probably as far off as winter. It may warm your heart to know that a certain group of researchers at Harvard has not given up the fight against ice and frost. They've invented a lubricant that makes frozen water “roll off” metal surfaces. The lubricant could work to keep ice off aircraft as well as refrigeration systems, wind turbines and marine vessels.
The anticorrosive and nontoxic lubricant is called SLIPS, which stands for the Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces. To apply it to a metal surface, first the metal is coated with a rough material to which the lubricant adheres. The coating can be finely sculpted to lock in the lubricant, which creates a surface that is absolutely flat. It's so flat that if ice does develop, all it takes is slight agitation, vibration or even just wind to nudge the ice off the surface. No chemicals or elbow grease is required.
Joanna Aizenberg, lead researcher for the study, said that the “SLIPS-based icephobic materials, as our results suggest, can completely prevent ice formation at temperatures slightly below 0 degrees Celcius while dramatically reducing ice accumulation and adhesion under deep freezing, frost-forming conditions."
This technique can help improve safety conditions by applying it to hand and guard rails and could lower energy and maintenance costs if applied to aircraft, roofs and wiring.