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Category: Innovation Bonds

Icephobic Polyurethane Gives Ice the Cold Shoulder

If you’ve ever spent a winter morning scraping ice off of a car windshield, you know ice removal is a time- and labor-intensive process. However, when the icy object is a jetliner or an oil rig, removing ice correctly and completely can mean saving lives. Icephobic polyurethane is an innovative ice removal solution with applications from power lines to airplanes.

The durable coating sprays on to surfaces and forms a thin, clear barrier that causes ice to slide off using nothing more than the force of gravity. The result is due to a phenomenon called “interfacial cavitation.” While two rigid surfaces — like ice and a car’s windshield — stick together tightly, a rigid material on a rubbery surface deforms more easily.

The new coating could also provide significant energy savings if used in freezers, where energy-guzzling systems are currently required to keep the surfaces frost-free. Icephobic polyurethane could have the same effect without any energy consumption, making freezers up to 20 percent more energy efficient.

Initial applications will most likely come in the form of linings for frozen food packaging. Bringing it to life in car and aeronautic technology will take longer, due to safety and durability testing, but it’s well within the realm of possibility.