Ice Buildup on Solar Panels No More: Researchers Find Solution

Cracking ice layers

The scientivic community has also created superhydrophobic substances that can repel water. The idea behind their use is that ice cannot form if all the water that could potentially freeze simply slides of the coated surfaces.

The water repellant substances can be used in order to cover any type of substance, however, they are not environmentally safe, and their use is controlled. Furthermore, scientists are not sure for how much time would have to pass before the coating would have to be reapplied.

This has led to the development of another method of handling the ice problem. The scientists at the NTNU Nanomechanical Lab have decided to allow ice to build up and to crack it once it does.

The new idea has motivated the researchers to explore the possibility of using physical forces in order to create nanofisures in ice, in order to break it.

The solution that they found is to build microscopic bumps(micro-crack initiators, or MICI) into the surface of the object that they want protected. These initiators favor the development of microcracks at the contact between the surface and the layer of ice.

There are also chemical based solutions that do the exact same thing (nano-crack initiators, or NACI), however none of these initiators are particularly effective at breaking ice.

The next step for the scientists was to add another structure below the surface in order to create macro-cracks at the point where the ice touches the surface. This new mechanism was called MACI (macro-crack initiator), and has proved to be effective enough to be considered a definitive solution to the ice build-up issue.

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