Ice accretion is detrimental to a number of areas from airplanes to wind turbines and power cables. Currently, methods to remove ice are either energy-intensive or time-consuming leading for example to huge delays in airplane traffic during heavy winter conditions. Hence, there is currently a large demand for surfaces capable of delaying ice formation and passively shedding it [1, 2].
A key consideration here is to control surface wettability and in particular make a surface water-repellent. Essentially, wettability is a measure of how much liquids spread on a surface; with those surfaces forming a contact angle with water higher than 150o called superhydrophobic. Repellency arises from low contact angle hysteresis (the difference between the receding and advancing contact angles). A number of such surfaces have been developed over the last few years, which combine surface roughness with a low surface energy polymeric layer . Despite the huge scientific interest in these surfaces over the last two decades, the challenge to shed ice remains and further work in that direction is required .
This project consists of two parts: We will use our state-of-the-art digital manufacturing capabilities of Productivity East to rationally design and fabricate a number of superhydrophobic surfaces with varying combinations of geometries and sizes and other properties such as surface chemistry, elasticity etc. The optimal surfaces will then be exposed to icing conditions in order to determine their performance in delaying freezing, ice adhesion and ice-shedding.
Applicants should have a first or upper second-class Honours degree in Engineering, Materials, Chemistry or relevant subject with some experience in surface science techniques. Basic knowledge of CAD/CAM, thermodynamics and phase change process is desirable. You can email Dr. Alex Askounis for Informal enquiries.