Before we get our hands full with formulas and phrases, let’s start with A Song of Ice and Fire. Adapted from George RR Martin’s novels of the same name, there’s a compelling sequence on HBO’s water cooler show Game of Thrones. ”
When protagonist Jon Snow and his band of brothers embark on a ghost-hunting winter retreat and jeopardize the national security of the mythical land of Westeros, they find themselves stranded in a polar vortex and surrounded by the Night King’s frigid army. After receiving a save-our-soul signal, Daenerys Targaryen, dragon mother and Jon’s aunt, arrives at the venue and leads her fiery dragons ex machina.
What ensues is an antiseptic battle between the living and the dead, with Dany’s dragons setting the marching icy front on fire in a characteristic move of fire and fury. As the triumphant Dany prepares to depart, the Night King slays one of her dragons in a one-hit knockout with an ice spear thrown with Olympic accuracy. In a dramatic turn of events, in the vein of the Night King, the fiery behemoth later transforms into a frost-spitting ice dragon to spread winter even faster: Fire = 0, Ice = 1. Be it the mythical North of the Wall or North America, the woes of icing and icing are time-tested.
In winter, nature wraps the environment in a white blanket, incredibly diverse and yet infinitely monochromatic. But there is more to this flawless icy beauty, as the threat of ice or frost formation on functional surfaces plaguing various industries causes billions of dollars in economic losses around the world.
For example, the freezing of supercooled water droplets on aircraft wings leads to excessive ice build-up, altering in-flight aerodynamics and posing a serious challenge to operational safety. In addition to annoying flight delays over the Christmas holidays, an estimated 9.5 percent of fatal plane accidents are due to icing. Most tragic is the 1985 crash of Arrow Air Flight 1285, which killed 256 people on board. Icing and ripening also affect the performance of wind turbines, thermal management systems, building infrastructure, and telecommunications systems.
Of course, considerable effort has been directed over the years to developing engineered surfaces that prevent ice formation or have low ice adhesion to the surface. Most of these conventional techniques for preventing surface icing in cold winters rely heavily on the use of liquid deicing chemicals that must be applied by the thousands of gallons. However, because they are liquid, they are quickly dissolved or depleted, requiring frequent reapplication. Needless to say, this has a significant environmental and economic impact.
How about tackling this chilly problem by using materials that are solid in the cold and can resist frost for hours? The latest research paper from our group at the University of Illinois Chicago, for which I am the lead author, addresses this burning issue by creating an extensive library of more than 80 formulations based on biofriendly phase change materials (PCM). These materials have a melting point higher than the freezing point of water, with the ability to remain in a solid state away from the condensing droplets, but transition to a liquid state in their immediate vicinity, using the latent phase released during condensation Trapping heat and thereby preventing drips from freezing for long periods of time.
Simply put, the very humid environment that the Frost’s cold army summons can be used to stop them. The functional coatings made from these PCMs work on the principle of utilizing thermoresponsive properties, which allows them to create an in situ generated slippery surface layer. The self-lubricating liquid layer forms a protective barrier between the underlying substrate and a variety of contaminants ranging from ice to disease-causing bacteria, preventing them from finding a strong grip. In addition to exceptional frost resistance, the coatings are endowed with beneficial functionalities such as optical transparency in environmental precipitation such as an ice storm, high shear flow stability under abrasive conditions, and self-healing properties in the event of mechanical damage. With this diverse portfolio of intriguing functionalities all integrated into a single material system, we envision the compositions developed will find widespread practical application in the energy, transportation, healthcare and military sectors.
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Rukmava Chatterjee et al, A Family of Frost‐Resistant and Icephobic Coatings, Advanced Materials (2022). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202109930
Rukmava Chatterjee is a Ph.D. University of Illinois Chicago student with industrial-academic experience (10+ years) in thermal management, materials science, and mechanical design trained to solve challenging scientific problems.
Citation: Slippery Coating Fights Frost and Protects the Environment (2022 May 3) Retrieved May 3, 2022 from https://sciencex.com/news/2022-05-slippery-coating-fends-frost-kind.html
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