HAP 3: Structural Integration of Ice Detection and De-icing

The formation of ice on airplane wings affects the flight properties in a negative way.Ice layer as thick as a few millimeters already leads to a loss of lift and an increase of aerodynamic drag, which decreases the aerodynamic performance. Therefore in particular commercial airplanes are equipped with ice protection mechanisms to prevent ice attachment or to remove accreted ice.

Conventional systems use thermal energy, e.g. in terms of hot engine bleed air inside the wing leading edge or by electric heating mats on protected structures. The high demand of energy is there biggest drawback. Mechanical systems have the potential to be more energy efficient. They apply forces or deformations to the leading edge which lead to critical (shear) stresses in the boundary layer between ice and structure. Commonly used are pneumatic de-icing systems (so-called pneumatic boots), whereby the deformation of inflatable rubber mats causes accumulated ice to brake off.

In work package HAP3 of the research project SuLaDI active methods for de-icing the wing leading edges are examined. It aims at refining innovative de-icing concepts and their integration into the wing leading edge of airplanes. Possible de-icing concepts are based on (among others) piezoelectric actuators and electro-impulse de-icing. The following issues will be addressed in the project:

Ice accretion on rotorblade

1. Characterization of different ice protection concepts, in terms of energy consumption, complexity, weight and reliability, to identify the most promising concept

2. Improvement of innovative concepts to show there feasibility and reliability

3. Integrating and testing a concept in the aircraft structure or the wing leading edge.

The timeline is as follows. After the conceptual search phase two concepts will be selected and examined in more detail. At first the concepts will be analyzed by experiments with simple plates. Especially the phenomenon of supercooled large droplet icing has the priority during experiments, since this is a very critical icing situation.

Parallel to the experiments calculation methods (e.g. using the finite element method) will be developed, which allow simulating the de-icing process. Afterwards a suitable de-icing concept for the wing structure will be designed. This also includes the integration of a sensor concept that can detect the formation of ice. A demonstrator with operative de-icing mechanism will be tested under icing conditions in a wind tunnel.


Paticipating Institutes: