Scientists at EADS are finding ways find ways to minimise or even prevent the build-up and adhesion of ice on the aircraft's surface, thereby reducing energy consumption for inflight de-icing. This work is supported by the Icing and Contamination Research Facility, ‘iCORE’, at EADS Innovation Works (IW) in Munich, Germany.
The researchers are studying the use of coatings and tailored surfaces to counter the accumulation of ice from supercooled water droplets – a common condition of meta stable water encountered during flight in the atmosphere and in cloud. The coatings are expected to support the use of newgeneration on-board de-icing systems that respond to the increasing evolution of electric aircraft. The applications for these solutions range from airliners and helicopters to military unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Icing and Contamination Research Facility (iCORE)
Dominik Raps, head of the iCORE laboratory, explains the research carried out in the facility.
The core of EADS Icing and Contamination Research Facility (iCORE) is a cryogenic wind tunnel which measures only six metres – and that is its great advantage. A transparent test section is located in the centre of the tunnel, with a scaled wing profile installed inside. On its leading edge, the researchers can simulate the impact of droplets and the formation of ice. This test section is the size of a shoebox and the researchers can document the icing phenomena and mechanisms up close with a high-speed camera.
Data from this wind-tunnel testing will contribute to an EADS Innovation Works-led European project on icing, called AEROMUCO (AEROdynamic surfaces by advanced MUltifunctional COatings). The programme’s scope will include the creation of ice-resistant coatings and is to take the investigations into larger tunnels – eventually leading to flights with a testbed aircraft from the Istres Flight Test Centre in France.
Another focus of research in the iCORE lab is laminar flow technology. The effect of insect contamination on flow characteristics will also be investigated in this context. Insect contamination has no impact on flight efficiency today. When the laminar flow technology currently under development goes into use, however, this situation will change: minor turbulence may occur due to insect contamination. This would jeopardise the goal of fuel savings through turbulence-free airflow. In paralel, Airbus is working along with the Saab Group, Dassault and the Fraunhofer Institute on a laminar flow wing demonstrator, which is to be flight-tested on an A340 in 2014 and which may lead to a production wing design for a next-generation short- to medium-range aircraft.
Did you know…?
Within the iCORE laboratory research on coatings that reduce or even prevent insects from adhering to the surfaces, EADS engineers are firing numbed insects at the test profile in the wind tunnel instead of freezing droplets. To minimise testing on living organisms, the researchers have also developed a protein mixture that corresponds to the insides of an insect.