Poison Dart Frogs Could Inspire New Way Of De-Icing Planes
engineering professor believes that brightly coloured, highly venomous tropical
frogs could inspire a new method of de-icing airplanes.
Rykaczewski, an associate professor at Arizona State
University, designed an anti-icing “skin" for planes after being
inspired by the way the frogs store and release venom through their own skins.
has been working on alternate ways to de-ice planes since 2012. A vacation in
Panama inspired his new approach.
was travelling and got to see the poison dart frog in the wild. The
functionality of poison-release on demand was exactly what I wanted to do with
antifreeze, and having a 2-layer skin instead of a single textured layer was a
clever way to do that."
proposal, detailed in the latest Advanced Materials Interfaces journal,
involves coating aircraft wings in 2 paper-thin layers of
“skin," a top, hydrophobic layer that would repel frozen water droplets during
flight and a 2nd layer that contained antifreeze, in case the top
lab tests, the skin was able to resist ice buildup for a full hour, a huge
improvement from the roughly 1 minute of ice-prevention displayed by “typical"
the surface starts icing over, pores on the top layer fill up with condensate
or ice and make contact with the antifreeze. Due to the contact, the antifreeze
starts melting ice and diffusing. A major benefit – the release of antifreeze
happens by itself and does not require external input from an operator.
says that it could be years before his “optimal arctic frog skin" comes to an
airport near you, but he hopes to continue testing the product by using drones
flown in the Arctic.