Promethean Particles has been named as a finalist in this year’s Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Global Awards 2020 for its participation in the research project, ICEMART.

The awards programme recognises excellence in chemical, biochemical and process engineering. Promethean is shortlisted with its partners, BAE Systems, CAV Advanced Technologies, GKN Aerospace Services, London South Bank University, Opus Materials Technologies, PPG Industries and TWI UK, in the research project category.

The ground-breaking ICEMART project was established to develop an innovative passive ice-repellent coating system, based on super-hydrophobic technology, for use primarily within the aviation industry but also shipping and energy sectors.

The innovative coating incorporates multi-functional additives into conventional hydrophobic coatings to make them highly repellent to water and ice, whilst remaining durable. Existing hydrophobic coatings on the market don’t have the durability and functional characteristics that the aviation industry requires.

Silica nanoparticles were selectively designed to enable the surface topography of the coating to be controlled, enabling a surface structure design that creates a layer of trapped air between the coating and water droplets. This reduces the wetting potential of the surface and inhibits ice formation, as well as degradation, of the coating.

The unique manufacturing process developed by Promethean Particles utilises a patented continuous flow reactor design that allows the production of the nanoparticles to be scaled up and taken out of the laboratory and into production by coatings maufacturers.

Simon Haas, Senior Research Scientist at Promethean Particles, said: “We are thrilled to be a finalist in these prestigious awards and look forward to presenting our project to the judges in November.

“ICEMART is a demonstration of high-tech science at the cutting-edge, with a real industry purpose,” he added. “Existing anti-ice technologies are often expensive, inefficient, unreliable and damaging to the environment but are absolutely necessary for health,  safety and efficiency purposes.

“The development of a passive ice-repellent coating that prevents ice formation and adhesion will have far-reaching impact across a wide range of sectors, most notably aerospace and renewable energy.

“Icing can compromise aircraft safety by increasing its weight and aerodynamic flow, ultimately affecting its ability to stay in the air. A revolutionary technology like that being developed by the ICEMART partners, would lead to a reduction in crashes and accidents caused by ice-formation, increasing the safety of every passenger travelling by aeroplane.”

From an environmental perspective, tests have shown that the ICEMART coating would eliminate 100 million litres of de-icing fluid discharge currently used on aircraft. The fluid contains additives that have a significant adverse impact on water quality in the surrounding eco-system.

The elimination of in-flight de-icing equipment will further reduce aircraft weight and power requirement, increasing efficiency and payload, generating a saving of around £7bn in fuel costs and 80m tonnes of CO2emissions every year.

Beyond the aviation sector, the coating could be applied to wind turbine blades; as well as preventing serious injuries and damage caused by ice-shedding, meaning the ice-repellent coating could lead to a 17% improvement  in wind generation efficiency.  The winners of this year’s awards will be announced in a series of webinars held November 2-19. Each webinar will showcase the stories of each finalist’s project in the team categories. The Promethean team will present on November 3, 2020.

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