Student working on a research project.

An Investigation Of Electroactive Polymer Materials As A Mechanism Of Ice Removal

Electroactive polymers (EAP) are a class of smart materials which exhibit a shape change under an applied voltage. They are polymers which undergo deformation when in the presence of an electric field. There are two basic types of EAPs - ionic and electronic. Ionic EAPs are polymers in which actuation is caused by displacement of ionic groups inside the polymer due to an applied external field. This study is limited to using Ionic EAPs due their superior abilities. They have been shown to working in subzero temperatures and have relatively higher deformation capabilities. These polymers would serve as a mechanical method to remove accumulated ice from a surface. They are similar to deicing boots currently used, which expand pneumatically and break off the ice. These materials can be installed on surfaces which go under icing situations, and then be actuated when needed to break the ice off. Icing is specifically a problem on wing structures used in airplanes, wind turbines, helicopters, etc. Ice formation on airfoils changes the angle of attack of the wing and causes stalling of the wing, thus rendering it inefficient. Unlike traditional mechanical systems which can only cover parts of the surface, EAPs can be used to span the entire surface and provide protection against ice. They also use less energy, are lightweight, have a faster response rate and are not fragile like pneumatic systems. The experiment consists of building an ionic polymer metal composite which is an ionic EAP. This would then be attached to a metal surface in the shape of a wing. This whole setup would then be subjected to freezing conditions which would result in ice formation on it. The deicing capabilities would then be tested by actuating the EAP and recording the observed effects. The experiment would then be repeated multiple times with different ice thicknesses and varied time periods for which the structure was subjected to icing environment.

Research Project Information

Disciplines: Mechanical and aerospace engineering
Student Skill-Set Needed: MAE student, ability to work independently, strong understanding of materials
Compensation: Academic Credit
Available: Fall


For further information on this opportunity, or to apply, contact:

Faculty Member: John Hall
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Mechanical And Aerospace Engineering
Office: 241 Bell Hall
Phone: 716-645-5946