Thanks to novel water-repelling micro- and nanostructured coatings, wind turbines remains ice-free. These functional surfaces are also interesting for aircraft wings, winter sport clothing and solar panels.
The scientists study how anti-icing coatings affect the freezing behavior of water droplets in an icing chamber. Source: Fraunhofer IGB
The formation of ice on the rotor blades of wind turbines results in aerodynamic imbalance.
In order to prevent damage, either the rotor blades must be heated or the wind turbine must be shut down. To tackle this issue, the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB has developed a number of anti-icing coatings suitable for polymer surfaces. These water-repelling microstructured and nanostructured coatings ensure that any water remains a liquid, even at temperatures below zero, resulting in a 90% reduction in ice adhesion compared to uncoated surfaces.
The trick: The surfaces provide the water molecules with no crystallisation nuclei. Plasma technology is used to deposit the structured coatings onto plastic films made of impact-resistant polyurethane (PU). The coatings are not only of interest for wind turbines: these functional surfaces can also be applied to aircraft wings and solar panels. Furthermore, anti-icing coatings can also be directly applied to fabrics and plastics, for example for winter sports clothing, tents, and other outdoor articles.