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Poison dart frog inspires new way to de-ice planes


Arizona State University mechanical and aerospace engineer Konrad Rykaczewski.

Curiosity about the way a particular tropical frog releases a toxic substance through its skin to protect itself led Arizona State University engineer Konrad Rykaczewski to an idea for a new anti-icing technique for aircraft.

Rykaczewski and three ASU graduate students working with him devised a method that would add a coating to aircraft surfaces that secretes antifreeze to prevent ice formation.

The method employs a skin-like bi-layer coating. The inner layer stores antifreeze liquid and the outer porous superhydrophobic layer repels cold rain that could become ice.

When the outer layer fails, for example because of condensate or frost accumulation, the inner layer releases antifreeze to prevent ice sheet formation. As a result, the bi-layer “skin” can delay freezing rain accumulation 60 times longer than a superhydrophobic coating alone. See video that demonstrates this.

Rykaczewski is an assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Experiments on his new ice-resistance system showed it significantly delayed the time it took ice to form under freezing conditions.

Since publication of a paper on his de-icing method in a research journal, the idea has gained the attention of professional colleagues and news media.

Other experts studying de-icing methods are saying Rykaczewski’s work is innovative and shows definitive promise to provide more effective prevention of ice buildup.

News media are interested in reporting that a new engineering development may eventually help make air travel safer for the many people who must fly in freezing wintry weather.

Source: CBS News


Source: Popular Science


Source: The Osgood File on the CBS Radio Network


Source: Fox News


Source: CNET magazine


Source: The Weather Channel


Media Contact
Joe Kullman, [email protected]
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

About The Author

Joe Kullman

Joe Kullman is a science writer for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Before joining Arizona State University in 2006, Joe worked as a reporter, writer and editor for newspapers and magazines dating back to the dawn of the age of the personal computer. He began his career while earning degrees in journalism and philosophy from Kent State University in Ohio. Media Contact: [email protected] | 480-965-8122 | Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Communications

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