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Graphene-Based Coating Could Act As a Real-time De-Icer For Aircraft (rice.edu) 26

hypnosec writes: Researchers have developed a graphene-based coating they have proved effective at melting ice from a helicopter blade, paving the way for a real-time de-icer. The thin coating of graphene nanoribbons in epoxy has been developed by researchers at Rice University. In their tests, researchers show the coating is capable of melting centimeter-thick ice from a static helicopter rotor blade in a -4 degree Fahrenheit environment. A small voltage was applied to the coating that delivered electrothermal heat — called Joule heating — to the surface, which melted the ice.
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Graphene-Based Coating Could Act As a Real-time De-Icer For Aircraft

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why does this pave the way to real-time de-icing? From the research, it appears to simply apply resistive heating techniques on the blade. Couldn't this already be done? Has nobody tried heading surfaces from inside before? What was the technical challenge?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This has been done for ages. Electro-thermal deicing devices are commonly used on propellers.

      My guess (TFA wasn't really clear in this respect) is that this is big news because we're talking about a coating. Deicing systems are usually bulky and used only on attack surfaces, which leads to some issues - on wings for example, if you don't set the right temperature ice will melt only to flow over the surface only to solidify again, harder, on a different place.

      • And we're assuming, of course, that this graphene coating will be able to hold up to the stresses and impacts encountered by helicopter blades. It seems like that would be much bigger news than "it can act like a resistor".

        • But ... isn't graphene magic, and any purpose to which it's applied produces a magically correct outcome?

          Surely graphene just knows it's supposed to hold up to the stresses and remove the ice, right?

        • Well, if it's a coating across the entire blade, you're good until there's a complete electrical separation.

          After that, hopefully just spray some more epoxy on.

          • by slinches ( 1540051 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @03:30PM (#51375927)

            An epoxy based coating on the leading edge of a helicopter rotor will be gone almost instantly. The blades are basically sand blasted on every takeoff and landing from the dirt and sand that gets kicked up by the rotors. That's why they have that metallic cap.

            Also, the reason they don't heat the entire rotor blade now is because the electrical power requirements would be excessively high and it isn't necessary. The metallic ribbon heating elements they currently use are such a small contributor to the overall weight that it's almost negligible. The rest is thermal mass and insulation necessary to evenly distribute the energy across the anti-iced section of the blade and to protect the composite blade structure from the heat. Maybe, due to reduced thickness and uniform heat output, this new coating could be applied closer to the back side of the LE abrasion shield and be more resistant to foreign object damage being a continuous sheet, but I don't expect it to revolutionize the industry. It certainly won't grossly increase the range of application of aircraft anti-ice systems. Outside of rotors/propellers, aircraft generally use engine bleed air for anti-icing since that is readily available and the electric power needs to replace those systems would require much larger and heavier generators.

    • Bow down to the awesomeness that is graphene. Resistance is futile.

  • by Etcetera ( 14711 )

    The last time Science tried to come up with a new de-icer it didn't work out too well [tumblr.com]...

    Just saying.

  • ... not use O'Hare as a hub for flights from St. Louis to San Diego, for example.

  • 1 cm thick coating of ice happens only on ground for aircraft. While flying they can not tolerate 1 cm change in the air foil shape. Especially choppers with thinner rotor cross sections. But if the parked aircraft picks up that much of an ice coating, heating the contact layer will melt that layer and debond the ice from the wings. As the chopper spins up the rotor, the airflow and other flexings will throw the ice off. Very good for choppers.

    For fixed wing aircraft they can't take off hoping airflow will

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous