Ice adhesion is a major concern in the aircraft industry because ice buildup affects many aspects of flying. Ice build-up on rotary aircraft blades can affect efficiency by reducing the aerodynamics of the blades. When ice builds up on the leading edges of aerodynamic surfaces, it decreases lift and increases drag; wind tunnel tests show very thin ice sheets can reduce lift by as much as 30% and increase drag by 40%.1 Ice can add additional mass to the blades, putting stress on the aircraft which can culminate in catastrophic failure. The sudden release of ice through centripetal force can result in dangerous ice projectiles that can damage the aircraft. Uneven release of ice can unbalance helicopter rotor system, resulting in unwanted vibration. Ice-release coatings aid in the release of ice and can even reduce ice build-up.
A variety of solutions exist, modeled after many of the solutions used for aircraft: heaters to melt the ice, fluids to lower the freezing point of water, and coatings to minimize ice adhesion. Ice-release coatings aid in the release of ice and can reduce ice build-up. Applying coatings that reduce ice adhesion is a practical and economical choice for rotorcraft manufacturers.
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