20 February 2015 aerospace-technology.com
US-based Battelle has tested a new ice protection system for unmanned aerial vehicles.
Called HeatCoat, the technology is tested on wing and engine inlet test articles, which are placed into an aero-icing tunnel with temperatures as low as -22°F and air speeds of up to 182kts.
The tunnel is designed to imitate icing conditions encountered during flight.
Ice protection technology incorporates a carbon nanotube coating, which can be sprayed onto an aircraft surface, creating a heated area.
The heater performance is monitored by a controller that applies appropriate power levels for flight conditions.
The four-day test demonstrated HeatCoat's ability to perform anti-icing and de-icing functions, and paves the way for flight demonstration phase of carbon nanotube coating, Battelle said.
Battelle HeatCoat Systems product manager Ron Gorenflo said: "Our recent tests validated improvements we've made and prove that we are ready to go from a technology readiness level (TRL) 6 on to a TRL 7 once we identify a key partner to help complete the next step of this process."
The new process is claimed to be lighter than traditional ice protection systems, operate on less power, and can be retrofitted to existing assets.
Battelle said its product is radically different from traditional ice protection systems, including bleed air, pneumatic boots or weeping wings.
In 2010, Battelle scientists completed initial feasibility tests of the coating in an icing tunnel in compliance with the FAA regulations, and found the technology could provide a durable, lightweight ice protection solution for aerial platform.