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Swiss R&D Team Focuses on Anti-Freeze Coatings

Monday, November 29, 2010

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Specialty chemicals supplier Clariant is working with a Swiss engineering school and other organizations to develop coatings that will prevent ice from sticking to surfaces and water from freezing on glass.

The R&D collaboration is led by the ZHAW School of Engineering in Winterthur, Switzerland. Clariant materials are being used to develop the coatings.

Also participating in the project are the Gebert Rüf Foundation, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, and Renewable Energy Technology Center GmbH. RETC is a Hamburg-based Joint Venture by  REpower Systems AG, which manufactures wind turbines, and Suzlon Energy Ltd.

The goal of the project, led by the ZHAW researchers, is to develop coatings technologies that can prevent or drastically minimize surface ice build-up. Wind power, refrigeration and aviation and other sectors will benefit from more reliable cold temperature performance and cuts in energy use. Trials are currently underway, the team says.

Anti-Adhesive Coatings

Initial research began in 2007 aimed at eliminating ice formation on wind turbine rotor blades. Every year, the wind power industry incurs the heavy cost of heating rotor blades in order to ensure the continued operation of turbines during the cold winter months, researchers say.

“The successful creation of an anti-adhesive polymer-based coating to reduce ice from forming, or at least minimize the adhesion of ice so that the vibration of the rotating blades causes ice to fall off independently, will deliver a major step forward in allowing turbines to work effectively throughout the year and avoid high energy costs,” Clariant said in a press release.

Although tests on various surfaces continue, results so far indicate new possibilities to protect turbine blades from ice formation using this method.

Anti-Freeze Coatings

The creation of an anti-freeze coating that prevents flowing water from freezing on glass may open new doors for the development of ice-free windscreens and aircraft windows without the need for heating elements and deicers. Tests indicate that, depending on the system used, the coatings can ensure a delay in freezing time of between one to three hours, researchers say.

The team is also developing a polymer for the refrigeration sector that could drastically slow the formation of condensation in hot/cold environments and, in turn, the development of ice.

Wide Range of Applications 

In all, the team anticipates a wide range of applications for the new technologies, from wind power to power lines, vehicle windshields and aircraft.

“Ice causes major operational problems and costs to businesses and utilities, but also to private individuals,” says Achim Stankowiak, Clariant’s head of Application Engineering & Aviation. “The potential for coatings that can prevent or slow down ice formation is therefore enormous.

“As the material partner in this project, we are delighted to see the innovations and those still under development effectively supporting the promising results achieved so far.”
 
Clariant, based in Muttenz, Switzerland, has more than 100 group companies employing about 17,000 people worldwide. The company is organized into ten Business Units: Additives; Detergents & Intermediates; Emulsions; Industrial & Consumer Specialties; Leather Services; Masterbatches; Oil & Mining Services; Paper Specialties; Pigments; and Textile Chemicals.

   

Tagged categories: Adhesion; Clariant; Coatings technology; Polymers; Research

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