Zentek Partners for Turbine Coating Testing
Zentek Ltd., a Canadian development and commercialization company, has announced a new collaboration to test and validate their icephobic coatings for the wind turbine industry. The company reports that it will be partnering with wind turbine developer and operator Pattern Energy Group LP.
According to Zentek, their icephobic technology has already:
Reportedly a large danger to the aviation industry, ice and freezing rain can limit wind turbines’ renewable energy production. Furthermore, Zentek states that technologies currently used to mitigate ice buildup, such as passive heating and chemical sprays, can lead to environmental damage.
However, Zentek states that they believe their new graphene-based technology can act as a better substitute to other methods of ice mitigation. Their graphene-enhanced coating reportedly reduces the adhesive bond at the surface to promote ice removal by aerodynamic, vibration and other forces.
If demand for the product exceeds supply, Zentek has reportedly agreed to give Pattern Energy a “priority position” to purchase its icephobic coating. Zentek also agreed to give Pattern a 40% discount on its initial purchases.
The research will reportedly be led by Dr. Gelareh Momem at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi and the University of Quebec at Rimouski. The partnership is funded by Natural Sciences Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and PRIMA Quebec-Advanced Materials Moving forward.
Previous Icephobic Coating Testing
Zentek announced the development of its new carbon-based, nanotechnology-enhanced icephobic coating in November 2021.
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.
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.
The company had also filed a provisional patent for the technology last August with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and started to explore partnership opportunities.
Then, in March 2022, Zentek reported the results of testing conducted on its icephobic coating, including real-world testing, drone testing and accelerated age testing.
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.
In more recent testing, in September, Zentek successfully completed sand erosion testing at the National Research Council in Ottawa, as well as rain erosion testing at the Anti-icing Materials International Laboratory.
The sand erosion testing reportedly demonstrated “medium” to “good” performance at a high speed of 540 kilometers (335.5 miles) per hour. Additionally, the rain erosion testing demonstrated “good” performance at 160 kmh and 320 kmh. Zentek reports that these speeds are exemplary of which the leading edge of wind turbine blade tips are exposed.
AMIL was also testing the performance of the icephobic coating on a small wind turbine in an indoor controlled environment at the time.