Icy conditions can be fatal when you are walking near power transmission lines during storms or flying through bad weather. A team of researchers working at the University of Houston recently reported that they discovered a material that can repel ice when applied on surface. They like to call it the Magnetic Slippery Surface (MAGSS). The principal investigator of this research, Hadi Ghasemi, likes to adds, “Anti-icing surfaces have a critical footprint on daily lives of humans ranging from transportation systems and infrastructure to energy systems, but creation of these surfaces for low temperatures remains elusive,” the researchers wrote. “Non-wetting surfaces and liquid-infused surfaces have inspired routes for the development of icephobic surfaces. However, high freezing temperature, high ice adhesion strength, and high cost have restricted their practical applications.” He is also an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the UH.
He explains the material this way, one side of it is covered with magnetic material while a thin layer magnetic fluid layer of iron oxide nanoparticles gets deposited on other side. The magnetic fluid layer is formed on outer side. Whenever a water droplet touches the surface, the fluid acts as barrier and stops the contact between solid surface and droplet. He further adds, “There’s no adhesion of the ice to the solid surface, so it basically slides off the surface.”
The most potent applications of this substance will be in aerospace industry when planes get crashed due to ice buildup. Also, it will be of vital important to the power industry where power poles, transmission lines, and towers collapse due to ice buildups. The developers hope to turn this substance into spray that can always be applied to other surfaces. They say, “These surfaces (MAGSS) provide a defect-free surface for ice nucleation and thereby lower the ice formation to close to homogeneous nucleation limit. These surfaces promise a new paradigm for development of icephobic surfaces in aviation technologies, ocean-going vessels, power transmission lines and wind turbines in extreme environments.”
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