MIT scientists develop new way to remove ice without power

Tinuku - It could be used to coat airplane wings and other surfaces to prevent ice buildup. A new material that converts light into heat could be laminated onto airplanes, wind turbines, rooftops and offshore oil platforms to help combat ice buildup.

This deicer, called a photothermal trap, has three layers: a top coating of a ceramic-metal mix that turns incoming light into thermal energy, a middle layer of aluminum that spreads this heat across the entire sheet, warming up even areas not bathed in light, and a foam insulation base.

Tinuku MIT scientists develop new way to remove ice without power

The photothermal trap, described online August 31 in Science Advances, can be powered by sunshine or LEDs. Engineer Susmita Dash of the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru and colleagues laid a 6.3-centimeter-wide sheet of the deicing material out in the sun on a day averaging about -3.5Celsius, alongside a sheet of aluminum.

Within four minutes, the photothermal trap heated to about 30C, while the aluminum warmed to only about 6C. After five minutes, snow on the surface of the photothermal trap had mostly melted off, but snow remained caked on the aluminum.

Deicing surfaces typically involves energy-intensive heating systems or environmentally unfriendly chemical sprays. By harnessing light to melt ice away, the new photothermal trap may provide a more sustainable means of keeping surfaces ice-free.