GE Scientists Demonstrate Promising Anti-Icing Nano Surfaces

Joseph Vinciquerra and I’m a project leader in the Mechanical Integration & Operability Laboratory at GE’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York

Icing problems for surfaces in freezing temperatures may never again present trouble following news that scientists from GE Global Research that new nanotextured surfaces dramatically reduce ice adhesion. The team’s findings, which were presented at the American Physical Society (APS) Conference in Boston, might have an influential impact for the aviation and wind energy industries, among others.

Not only that, the environmental impacts might be noticeably greener. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an estimated 25 million gallons of deicing agents are applied to aircraft taking off from U.S. commercial airports each year. Airplanes also have energy intensive heating systems on board to prevent ice formation on airplanes. Compared to standard surfaces, where ice would form almost immediately without the use of these systems, GE’s nano-enabled anti-icing surfaces would delay ice formation for more than a minute on their own.

“Today, airlines and other industry sectors spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on de-icing and other anti-icing measures,” said Azar Alizadeh, a materials scientist and project team lead at GE Global Research. “We have successfully engineered new nano surfaces and coatings that readily shed ice and also significantly delay ice formation under extreme conditions. These technologies could one day reduce and possibly even eliminate the need for existing anti-icing measures, maintaining safety while also saving businesses and consumers time and money.”

According to Alizadeh, GE is exploring potential applications of low ice adhesion and anti-icing surfaces and coatings across the company’s business portfolio. One example is wind turbines, where icing on wind blades can create drag on rotation speed, diminishing the power-generating capacity and efficiency of the turbine.

While promising results have been achieved in the lab and in various tests, GE’s nano-enabled anti-icing surfaces and coatings will require further development before they are durable enough and ready for commercial applications. This video from GE  provides compelling evidence of how the surface functions.

On its blog, Joseph Vinciquerra, a project leader in the Mechanical Integration & Operability Laboratory, writes: “What we have essentially done is re-create how atmospheric icing occurs in a lab environment to test our superhydrophobic materials. We’ve created a test facility that simulates these specific conditions within novel wind tunnels, which allow us to conduct experiments on new materials in the icing conditions of interest.”

Aside from the anti-icing surfaces, GE researchers are developing super water-repellent coatings to improve moisture control in steam turbines to enable higher efficiency. They also are exploring these coatings for certain parts of a gas turbine to reduce fouling. This would enable the turbine to run more efficiently and reduce the number of times it needs to be shut down for maintenance.

Sources: GE Global Research and BUSINESS WIRE

Photo: GE Global Research

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK RELEASES DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT ON ELKMONT DISTRICT

US Fed News Service, Including US State News February 6, 2006 The National Park Service’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park issued the following press release:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the release of the Elkmont Historic District Draft Environmental Impact Statement and General Management Plan Amendment. Park managers are inviting written or electronic public comments on the Park’s proposed actions and have scheduled two public hearings for March 25 and 27.

The purpose of the planning initiative is to develop a plan for the long-term management of 74 vacant buildings in the Elkmont Historic District. Elkmont is located about eight miles from Gatlinburg in the Sevier County, Tenn., portion of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The draft document identifies the National Park Service’s preferred alternative along with six other alternatives for the management and use of the district along with the expected impacts and projected costs of each alternative. These alternatives range from full removal of all buildings as described in the Park’s 1982 Management Plan to incrementally greater preservation and reuse of the buildings for a variety of purposes with costs estimated between $1.4 million to over $30 million.

“The environmentally preferred and agency’s preferred alternative that was selected is Alternative C in the study,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “This alternative would retain 18 buildings for use as a museum community with exhibits for public interpretation of the Elkmont story from its days as a logging camp through its life as a summer resort community. It includes restoration of the Appalachian Clubhouse which would be made available for public rental for day-use events. web site great smoky mountains

The core grouping of 18 preserved buildings would include a cabin that was associated with David C. Chapman, a leader in the movement to create the national park. In addition to the 18 buildings proposed for preservation in Alternative C of the DEIS, the Park also proposes to preserve the Spence Cabin along Little River.” “The remainder of the buildings would be removed and the areas they occupy would be restored as a natural system,” Ditmanson said. “After careful study, and consultation, we have concluded that this alternative strikes a balance between preserving natural and cultural resources and protects the original portion of the pre-Park resort community.” The estimated cost of executing the preferred alternative is approximately $5.67 million. If the Final Environmental Assessment, which is expected by the end of this year, supports that alternative, the Park would need to seek the funding required to implement the proposal through a combination of federal and non-federal funding sources. web site great smoky mountains

In addition to the preferred alternative identified, the following options were considered through a public process which began in 2001:

No Action Alternative calls for all structures to be removed and building sites to be returned to a natural state. Estimated cost is $1.37 million Alternative A is similar to the No Action Alternative, but proposes active restoration of natural resources. Estimated cost is $1.43 million Alternative B calls for retention of 12 buildings for use as a museum community with exhibits for public visitation and restoration of the Appalachian Clubhouse for use as a day use rental facility under a special use permit. Estimated cost is $4.63 million.

Alternative C is the Park’s preferred action described above.

Alternative D adds to the number of buildings retained and uses described in Alternative C. Eighteen cabins would be restored for use as a museum community, including the Chapman cabin and a cabin associated with Colonel Wilson B. Townsend who was President of the Little River Lumber Co.

Introducing into this action are six cabins that would be retained for overnight use by visiting scientists and two options for the Wonderland Hotel and Annex, by either removing both or reconstructing the hotel and rehabilitating the annex for park curatorial use. Estimated cost is between $9.76 million and $19.35 million depending on option.

Alternative E introduces a concessions operation for public overnight use. This alternative retains 17 buildings for use as a museum community and the Appalachian Clubhouse for use as a day use facility. Six buildings would be retained for overnight use by visiting scientists as described in Alternative D. Additionally, seven cabins would be retained for public overnight use, operated by a private concessionaire. The Wonderland Hotel and Annex, along with seven cabins would be operated for public lodging operated by a private concessionaire. Estimated cost is between $13.46 million and $21.78 million depending on option.

Alternative F proposes retaining 37 buildings for public lodging, operated by a private concessionaire. Seventeen buildings would be used as a museum community and the Appalachian Clubhouse preserved for use as a day use facility. Options for the Wonderland Hotel and Annex are the same as Alternative E, except to include a dining facility. Estimated cost is between $22.52 million and $30.21 million.

Generally, the greatest impacts in the No Action, Alternatives A, and B would be the removal of National Register-listed historic buildings. In Alternatives D, E, and F, the addition of progressively more occupied buildings would require a substantial increase in maintenance and utility systems. Occupancy of the buildings around the clock all year would also result in significantly higher levels of visitor impact to the natural resources in the a globally imperiled flood plain forest ecosystem.

The upcoming public hearings will give interested persons an opportunity to provide comments on the draft document. Hearings will be held on Saturday, March 25, 1:30 p.m. at the River Terrace Resort in Gatlinburg, Tenn. and on Monday, March 27, at 4:30 p.m. at the University of Tennessee Conference Center Building in Knoxville, Tenn.

Comments may be submitted either electronically through the above website or e:mail to ElkmontComments@tnainc.com or in writing to Superintendent, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Comments will accepted for a minimum of 90 days – through at least May 7, 2006 – depending upon when an Environmental Protection Agency Notice of Availability is published in The Federal Register. Contact: Bob Miller, 865/436-1207.

Bob Miller, 865/436-1207.


About the Author

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.