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Activity title

Assessment of Anti-Icing and De-Icing Technologies for Air and Sea Vehicles

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Applied Vehicle Technology

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Anti-Icing, Arctic Operations, Cold Region Operations, De-Icing, Ice Accretion, Ice Detection, Icepbobic Surfaces, Ice-Releasing Surfaces, Super-hydrophobic Surfaces


Aircraft in operation, whether in flight or prior to take-off, are subject to the effects of icing whenever temperatures are near or below zero. When icing occurs, the vehicle performance suffers leading to control difficulties and in extreme cases, complete loss of aircraft. Similarly, when ships operate in cold regions such as Arctic and Antarctic areas, ice accretion could result in disastrous situations such as capsizing. Ice buildup may hinder the operation of many systems critical to national infrastructure, including military and commercial airplanes and ships, power lines, windmills, and telecommunications equipment. In recent years, NATO has rapidly increased its use of UAVs in theaters of battle around the world. Also, UAVs are increasingly being used by NATO nations as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) tools. UAVs leverage military manpower; however icing still presents a major hazard to their operation in cold and/or humid environments. Approaches relevant to mitigating icing risks for large fixed-wing aircraft are not always applicable to UAVs owing to payload, size and power constraints. Further, slow-flying UAVs that operate at low altitudes are more efficient “collectors” of ice as they tend to be exposed to icing conditions for longer durations, thereby increasing the risk of unsuccessful/aborted missions, loss of vehicles and loss of crucial tactical capabilities and information. The growing use of rotorcraft in military operations also presents challenges as certification for flight into known icing is more complex than the established processes used for fixed-wing aircraft. In the coming decades, the Arctic Ocean will be increasingly accessible and more broadly used by Arctic and non-Arctic nations seeking the regions’ abundant resources and trade routes. There are increasing interests in Arctic operations by both military and commercial sectors, including marine offshore industry. Appropriate and effective ice protection systems (IPS) are critical for military air (manned and unmanned) and sea vehicles to remain at the first degree of readiness and operate safely and efficiently in icing conditions. Passive (hydrophobic, super-hydrophobic and icephobic surfaces) and active (thermal, electro-thermal, mechanical and chemical) icing risk mitigation approaches have been developed and used to reduce the risk of icing for both civilian and military airplanes and ships as well as for other systems such as power lines, wind turbines, and offshore oil platforms. Electro-thermal systems using nanomaterials and super-hydrophobic and icephobic surfaces have a promising potential for applications to military air and sea vehicles. However, an assessment of these emerging de-icing and anti-icing technologies, along with the existing ice protection technologies, is required to establish their performance and suitability for manned aircraft, UAVs and ships. Ice detection, ice adhesion testing, computational modelling and simulation and experimental testing facilities (icing wind tunnels) are necessary tools for effective evaluation and assessment of ice protection systems.


The main objective of this Research Task Group (RTG) is to evaluate existing and emerging passive and active anti-icing and de-icing technologies for application to military aircraft (manned and UAVs) and ships operating in cold and humid environments. In order to achieve the objective, the following specific tasks will be performed: • Evaluation of existing and emerging ice detection systems/technologies • Evaluation of existing and emerging testing methods for ice adhesion strength • Recommendation of standardized testing method(s) for ice-adhesion strength • Evaluation of the effect of repeated icing events and coating aging (weathering) on ice accumulation and adhesion • Evaluation of the effect of different icing conditions on IPS performance • Evaluation of computational modeling and simulation methods for IPC performance, including ice accretion, ice cracking, ice break-up and ice shedding • Survey, evaluation and establishment of a database of existing icing testing facilities for IPS technology demonstration • Development of a strategy for demonstration of selected promising anti-icing/de-icing concepts for application to air and sea platforms


Five topics will be covered by the Technical Team: • Active and passive ice protection systems - Anti-icing and de-icing technologies • Ice detection systems/technologies • Measurement of ice adhesion strength – Testing and analysis methods and standards • Computational modelling and simulation – Ice accretion, ice cracking, ice breakup and ice shedding • Experimental icing testing facilities – Survey and database

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