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ICELIP – Ice-Phobic Coating for Aerospace

Icing represents a complex and expensive problem in different industrial and energy applications such as aircraft, wind turbines, and power lines. Ice contamination on aircraft, specifically, is a multifaceted problem with repercussions for safety, efficiency, costs, and the environment. In-flight ice accumulation causes airflow disruption and decreasing control and performance. Large pieces of ice separating during flight can cause problems to engines and impact propellers. Additionally, frozen contaminants can jam control surfaces.

Icing is a major cause of delays, incidents (2.1% of total incidents), and severe accidents (4% of fatal accidents). The next generation of aircraft targets are to reduce drag by 20%, fuel consumption by 4%, and also to reduce CO2 emissions. A clean and smooth wing surface is essential for natural laminar flow (NLF) and reaching those targets.

Current ice-mitigation technologies in flight include mechanical breaking, electrical heating, freezing point depressant fluid and air bleed systems. De-icing systems can add up to 5% to aircraft weight. This increases fuel consumption, costs, and CO2 emissions by 4% and creates potential failure points. De-icing fluids are also used on the ground to remove ice from aircraft prior to take-off, with operations costing over £10,000 per large aircraft, consuming up to 1500L of fluid. Waste should be collected to prevent pollution and meet environmental regulations, as de-icing fluids increase aquatic toxicity and biochemical oxygen demand in waterways.

The use of passive anti-icing technologies, such as ice-phobic coatings, would dramatically reduce these problems. Despite the presence of different ongoing research studies and a few commercial products, no ice-repellent coating is currently able to provide a high degree of durability, particularly for the aerospace industry. The innovative aspect of the ICELIP solution is to provide standard aerospace coating systems with dual functionalities. This will be achieved by using ice-repellent multi-functionalised silica nanoparticles bonded strongly to a standard polyurethane clear coat already used in the aerospace sector. The focus of the innovation is the optimisation of a coating developed in previous R&D work by part of the consortium (TWI, LSBU, CAV, BAE Systems, Innvotek) and supply chain manufacturer, Promethean Particles. Coatings will be tested in an ice wind tunnel simulation environment to demonstrate a combination of ice-repellency and durability (TRL 5-6).

Progression towards passive, durable, and highly ice-repellent surfaces provides immediate opportunities for implementation, as it is designed to be seamlessly integrated into currently used materials. ICELIP technology could also be used in other sectors affected by icing, e.g. other transport (rail, maritime, automotive) and energy (wind turbines, power lines).

The ICELIP project (of which Icemart® is the commercial brand) will help to revolutionise the issue of icing.


Keep up to date on all things Icemart®:


Twitter: @Icemart2

Or contact the ICELIP project Exploitation Manager David Hannan at Opus Materials Technologies

Avatar Dr Anna Wojdyła-Cieslak, CEng Senior Project Leader - Functional Coatings and Resins

Anna is a Senior Project Leader in the Functional Coatings and Resins department at TWI, involved in management and technical delivery of collaborative and Single Client Projects. She completed her PhD programme in February 2017 from Brunel University, in collaboration with TWI and National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC). Anna was the first PhD student that carried out research under NSIRC programme. Her research was focused on the development of novel assessment criteria for durability evaluation of highly repellent surfaces for the aerospace, power and marine sectors. Anna’s work is dedicated to development of advanced coatings that protect the surface against accumulation on unwanted materials (ice, debris, insects etc..).