From salt-packed asphalt to material that keeps crystals from forming in the first place, scientists are constantly looking for new ways to combat ice. According to Science News, this latest method from researchers at the University of Michigan helps ice slip off surfaces.
The new study, published last week in Science Advances, looks at how tweaking the density and slipperiness levels of polymer sprays can be used to create ice-phobic materials. It's easiest for ice to slide off of objects with soft, low-density compositions, so the scientists used this principle to create a thin, clear spray-on coating that could be applied to surfaces that are prone to freezing. They adjusted the rubber polymer in the spray to lower its density, and added in lubricants like silicone and vegetable oil to make it extra slippery.
The process was shown effective in causing ice to slip off under the force of gravity or in a moderate breeze. More than 100 specialized formulas have already been developed to go on various materials like glass, wood, plastic, and cardboard. In addition to its potential to make car windshields, power cables, and airplane wings safer, the spray also has applications in the home. It could be used to make ice-phobic frozen food packages and freezer walls, which would make them more energy-efficient and easier to clean.
[h/t Science News]