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Jacek Marczak, PhD, the Polymer Materials Laboratory Manager at the PORT is developing new super-hydrophobic coatings, which are not water-wettable and in addition they will also delay freezing of water on their surfaces. His ideas can be applied in future in a wide spectrum of branches, i.a. power generation, construction or aviation as passive icing preventing systems.

The hydrophobic coatings feature the advantage, which is important for different technologies, namely they are not wettable – water drops flow over them easily resembling glass beads rolling down. Then the super-hydrophobic coats – with even larger ability like this – cause that drops even bounce off the surface of the material coated with them like rubber balls. This effect is observed by the scientists on some natural, special structures, e.g. on the surface of lotus leaves or butterfly wings. The coating created artificially featuring this property can have many applications, including the use as passive (not requiring power supply or chemical means) deicing systems, delaying water drops freezing on surfaces of different objects.

Development of nanocomposites at the PORT
Obtaining of nanocomposite coatings, which give special features to different surfaces, has been the object of studies of Jacek Marczak PhD, the Polymer Materials Laboratory Manager at the PORT – Polish Technology Development Centre. He started his works in this field from creating i.a. self-cleaning surfaces within the project “Utilization of nanotechnology in modern materials (NanoMat)”. From January 2019 he is performing with his PORT team the project concerning obtaining the super-hydrophobic, deicing coatings, because there is a large demand for them in the industry.

Advantages for the industry
Up till now the applied solutions preventing surface freezing have had many limitations, have been costly in maintenance and have polluted the environment with CO2 emission and release of glycol base toxic substances. Introduction of the efficient, ecological and inexpensive deicing solutions would be valuable, especially on the wings of airplanes, gutters, wind power generator propeller blades or on turbines. Due to their anti-corrosion properties the super-hydrophobic coatings would also be very useful as protection of bridge constructions or inside concrete cooling stacks.

dr Jacek Marczak – (c)PORT, fot. Klaudia Piątek

Easy, inexpensive and durable
Apart from obtaining these properties, the important advantage of the coatings created at the PORT laboratory is their easiness of application on the previously existing coatings. It means that the desired features can be given to the objects, which have already been in use by a simple technical application of these coatings. This solution will save much money, time and potential problems to entrepreneurs who will not have to replace the up till now used equipment completely or in part with new equipment when they want to modify it. The substantial challenge is also to have the obtained effect durable as much as possible and to have the surfaces resistant mechanically. The targeted resistance of the coatings is planned for a few or ever more than a dozen years.

On a drone and in a tunnel
In January 2019 Mr. Marczak and his co-workers have started a new stage of his studies – the project “Development of technologies of passive deicing systems in the form of the innovative super-hydrophobic coatings on the base of epoxy resin nanocomposites” (the ICE acronym), which is planned on a large scale. The scientists would like to perform field testing both in the open-air area, i.a. on the wings of special drones flying on the altitude of 1000 m a.s.l. (using different cameras, i.a. thermal imaging), as well as in the smoke tunnel simulating the conditions of icing occurrence. Durability and efficiency of the obtained coatings will also be checked in the whole year mode in the current weather conditions. In its theoretical-scientific part the project takes into consideration i.a. the simulation of the shape of the structures on the super-hydrophobic and deicing coating surface and its influence on ice adhesion to the surface.

Cooperation for the future
The project ICE is performed by the scientists from the PORT in cooperation with external entities, which are in possession of additional equipment, necessary for such tests. Also in the further plans there is the cooperation with companies, which could use in practice the solutions developed in the project. The successful connection of the super-hydrophobic function and deicing function of the created coatings would be a revolutionary accomplishment, which has been sought for long time by the most prestigious scientific institutes (MIT), large companies (General Electric) or governmental agencies (NASA).

More info…
on the Polymer Materials Laboratory: https://www.port.org.pl/en/laboratorium/polymer-materials-laboratory/

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Posted by Bartosz Solarewicz, Posted on 31.01.2019