Zentek Reports Icephobic Coating Test Results
Zentek Ltd., a Canadian development and commercialization company, recently reported the “excellent” results of testing conducted on its icephobic coating. These tests included real-world testing, drone testing and accelerated age testing.
About the Coating
Zentek announced the development of its new carbon-based, nanotechnology-enhanced icephobic coating in November last year.
Tests for adhesion strength required to dislodge ice from surfaces were conducted with a third-party lab, with the coating reportedly demonstrating an adhesion strength consistently around 20 kilopascals. Zentek reported at the time that the typical ice adhesion strength of a bare aluminum alloy is about 500 kilopascals, while a classified icephobic surface must be less than 100 kilopascals, with the coating having a 96% improvement over aluminum and 80% improvement over the 100 kPa threshold.
“We continue to actively develop new nanotechnology-enabled applications in high-impact areas, which, in this case, has the potential to significantly increase safety for vehicles such as drones, aircraft, ocean vessels, wind turbines and other applications where, in cold weather climates, there is the potential for ice to accrete on surfaces, causing hazardous breakdowns in function,” said Greg Fenton, Zentek CEO, at the time.
“Our mission continues to be to develop innovative nanotechnologies that improve people’s lives – and while our focus is primarily on nanotechnology-enabled healthcare solutions – we are also making breakthroughs that substantially contribute in other industries that may result in vital steps forward to ensure public safety and enhance sustainability.”
At the time, Zentek announced plans to include the coating, which includes graphene, in flight testing under real world ice-forming weather conditions over the winter. In addition, the company also planned to test if the coating was an effective passive method to de-ice drone propellers to fly safely in all-weather operations.
According to the release, the company filed a provisional patent for the technology in August with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and started to explore partnership opportunities.
According to the company’s release, the icephobic coating had “excellent” results in three rounds of testing, including laboratory tests, real-world flights and applications related to drone operations in adverse weather. To test practical application against ice for drone and wind turbine markets, the coating also underwent UV weathering testing.
“We would like to thank our research and development team for their outstanding work on developing what we believe is very promising icephobic technology. Zentek’s icephobic coating can potentially be used to improve aircraft and drone safety and sustainability, helping to both grow and diversify the Company’s future revenue potential," said Francis Dubé, Executive Chairman and Director at Zentek.
For the real-world testing, Zentek supplied samples of the coating on test pieces to be attached to research aircraft. These pieces are reportedly undergoing flight trials to target adverse weather environments.
Video footage of the coating performance has shown “positive” results. The coating reportedly demonstrated effective deicing and anti-icing under significant icing conditions.
To test its efficiency with drones, Zentek’s icephobic coating was applied to propellers typically used on drones to test low ice adhesion in applications where external forces can be used to remove ice from a surface.
These coated propellers reportedly demonstrated higher thrust can be maintained compared to noncoated propellers. These results were due to the ability to shed ice that forms on the blades that would otherwise degrade their aerodynamic properties.
Additionally, Zentek believes this demonstrates proof concept that drones can extend their operational temperature range, critical in freezing climates, by using its icephobic coating on propellers.
Finally, to test accelerated aging, the company exposed coated samples to UV weathering for 1,000 hours, approximately two years’ worth of sun damage in typical Canadian weather. After this exposure, the samples were tested in an icing wind tunnel under dynamic conditions.
These samples reportedly demonstrated “significant” retention of their icephobicity. Zentek explains that this suggests good durability under normal environmental conditions as well.
The next rounds of testing will include testing the coating for sand and rain erosion. Zentek reports that it is also planning tests to evaluate the coating as part of a hybrid ice protection system alongside a heated deicing system to improve efficiency.
According to the company, these tests are already scheduled and results will be reported once they are available.
“Positive results from our ongoing icephobic testing, in laboratory as well as real-world conditions, clearly demonstrate the significant potential for graphene and other nanomaterials in advanced materials development and commercialization,” added Dubé.
“More specifically, we believe our icephobic coating can be used to enhance safety and efficiency in many ways, creating several potentially new opportunities for our company and shareholders.”