Pulse technology defrosts surfaces in seconds

A team of Japanese and American researchers is developing with a new, fast and efficient technology to defrost surfaces.

In an article published in Applied Physics Letters last month, researchers from the University of Illinois (United States) and from Kyushu University (Japan) detail their work on a new defrosting method.

Conventional defrost systems consume a lot of energy. Indeed, much of the energy needed is used to heat other components of the system, rather than directly heating the frost or ice itself.

In the proposed system, ice or frost is cooled as soon as it is formed, and on the surface. The amount of frost to be eliminated is therefore very small. The system is thus much faster and efficient.

A conductive film composed of indium-tin oxide is applied to the surface to be defrosted. To perform the defrosting, a high power electrical impulse (10 to 100?W/cm2 during about 100 ms) is delivered between the ice and the surface, creating a layer of water that then evacuates.

The team performed tests on a glass plate cooled to -15 °C. Frost was removed in less than one second, which represents 0.01 % of the time typically required by traditional deicing methods with a 100 times lower energy consumption.

Further tests are to be conducted for non-planar geometric surfaces, to consider applications in the aeronautical environment.

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