A much more efficient method, at least according to the press release, to remove ice from the surface, was developed by a group of researchers at the University of Illinois from Urbana-Champaign and Kyushu University.
This new method would use less than 1% energy and in less than 0.01% of the time traditional methods need to achieve the same effect. According to the study, published in Applied Physics Letters, this new method melts the ice on a surface where the same surface and ice meet, so that the ice layer simply slips away. This differs from traditional defrosting methods that work by trying to melt all the ice from the top layer to the bottom layer.
The research explains Nenad Miljkovic, a researcher at the UUCUC and one of the authors of the study: “The work was motivated by the large energy efficiency losses of the energy systems of buildings and cooling systems due to the need to carry out an intermittent defrosting. The systems have to be closed, the working fluid is heated, so it has to be recooled. This consumes a lot of energy when considering the annual operating costs of running intermittent defrosting cycles.”
The researchers used a thin layer of indium tin oxide (ITO) to deliver a very high current pulse where ice and the surface meet. They tested the new system on a small glass surface cooled to -15.1°C or -71°C. In tests performed, the ice was removed with a pulse that lasted less than a second.
Of course, the first thought goes to an application for the external surfaces of aircraft, notoriously subject to the formation of ice. In this regard, Miljkovic suggests that further research should be done to obtain practical methods in this area: “It would be necessary to understand how we can cover curved components in accordance with the ITI and to understand how much energy we need.”
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