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Ice Phobic Coating Associated to Low Power Electromechanical Deicers

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Total project cost
€300 000
EU Contribution
€225 000
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Vehicle design and manufacturing (VDM)
Transport mode
Airborne icon
Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects,
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Call for proposal
Link to CORDIS

The main objective of the IceAge project was to develop and evaluate a number of alternative – and highly innovative – icephobic coatings used as associated to low power electromechanical de-icers.

This goal was achieved through two activities:

  • The development of durable and effective icephobic coatings that will facilitate and maintain laminar boundary layers on aerodynamic surfaces. These coatings will reduce ice adhesion on nanotextured coatings deposited on the leading edge of the wing.
  • The design of these coatings will be optimised by modelling and associated characterisation tests.

The high-speed airflow over aircraft can contain sand, water droplets, insects, ice crystals and other particles, and there thus exists a significant challenge to produce protective coatings resistant to this environment. Erosion resistance was therefore evaluated in IceAge project.

The multi-disciplinary approach yielded technological improvements beyond the state of the art through a structured, but innovative, research strategy. A comprehensive set of relevant tests were performed, including ice friction and force tests and comparative snow erosion tests.

Finally, upscaled samples were delivered to be tested in association with electromechanical de-icers in collaboration with the call initiators.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission
Type of funding
Public (EU)
Specific funding programme
JTI-CS - Joint Technology Initiatives - Clean Sky
Other Programme
JTI-CS-2013-2-SGO-02-078 Ice Phobic Coating Associated to Low Power Electromechanical Deicers


Executive Summary:

Ice adhesion and accretion on surfaces such as aircraft presents long recognised problems with respect to safety, efficiency and operational costs. Current active ice removal methods, such as electromechanical de-icers, are often based on melting or breaking already formed ice layers. In addition to their undesired weight and design complexity, these active anti-icing approaches require substantial energy for their operation. Passive solutions such as icephobic coatings have also been evaluated with varying success. Recently, coatings preventing ice accretion have been the subject of more attention stimulated by the remarkable water repellent properties of superhydrophobic surfaces. If superhydrophobic coatings are also not able to fully prevent ice accretion, the development of highly efficient hybrid low power systems combining active electromechanical de-icers and passive icephobic coatings remains highly promising to reduce the ice adhesion. This development and the design optimisation of a hybrid solution require a deeper understanding of the links between superhydrophobicity and anti-icing properties.

To this end, the ICEAGE project aimed at evaluating superhydrophobic coatings regarding ice adhesion reduction and erosion resistance in combination with electromechanical de-icers. Two types of nanostructures (pillars and holes) with two lateral sizes (100 and 500 nm) have been created with selected resins, regarding their elasticity and structurability (deliverable D3.1). These nanostructures have been generated by combining nanosphere lithography, etching, and replication techniques. Holey samples are expected a) to be more erosion resistant than pillared ones, and b) to prevent the formation of strongly adhering ‘Wenzel ice’ (ice penetrating inside the structures).

Produced samples have been tested regarding the ice adhesion, and the resistance to cracking and erosion. Based on agreed specifications (D1.1), dedicated set-ups have been designed and fabricated (D2.2). The samples exhibited all a good cracking resistance (no delamination) along with an exceptionally low ice adhesion (shear strength < 50 kPa), 10 times lower than the ice adhesion of reference surfaces, i.e. aluminium and commercial coatings (D1.2). Moreover, this ice adhesion of the ICEAGE samples remains low over a large temperature range down to -45°C. Finally, the erosion test demonstrated that the holey samples with a large size (500 nm) exhibit the best erosion resistance of the structured samples. Nevertheless, erosion resistance may be improved by selecting a better resin. In addition to indoor tests, outdoor exposure and bombardment with a snow gun have been performed (D2.3). Surprisingly, the small pillared sample (100 nm) showed a good resistance to the exposure test. In addition, all the nanostructured samples resisted very well to the snow gun test compared to the reference samples, confirming the ranking of the ice adhesion test.

The low ice adhesion nanostructured layer is foreseen to be coated on the metallic surface of an electromechanical de-icer. Based on experimental conditions proposed by the Topic member, vibration modes of a coated aluminium plate have been determined to shed the ice layer (D2.1).

In order to prepare a more realistic ice wind tunnel test, large samples (A4 sized) have been prepared with two highly promising nanostructures: large holes and small pillars (D3.2). A step-and-repeat process has been designed to form these large area samples from an elementary 7x7 cm sized nanostructured block. After the hydrophobisation step, the produced samples exhibit a similarly high water contact angle as the equivalent small samples. These large area samples are expected to be evaluated in icing wind tunnel to confirm the excellent anti-icing performances measured in the lab (D4.1).


Lead Organisation
Csem Centre Suisse D'electronique Et De Microtechnique Sa - Recherche Et Developpement
Rue Jaquet Droz 1, 2002 Neuchatel, Switzerland
EU Contribution
€150 000
Partner Organisations
Eidgenossichen Forschungsanstalt Fur Wald Schnee Und Landschaft
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€75 000


Technology Theme
Aircraft design and manufacturing
Super-Icephobic surfaces to prevent ice formation on aircraft
Development phase

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