Ice Beneath My Wings

Could melting ice be ELECTRIFYINGLY hot?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

At cruising altitude, airplanes can start icing over because of the freezing temperatures. The ice makes flying difficult. How do pilots deal with it? They blow EXTREMELY hot air over their wings to melt the ice. But the air can be SO hot that it can damage the aircraft’s lightweight materials.

Xuanshi Meng and his team from Northwestern Polytechnical University may have another solution.

By running a high voltage across two wires, the wires ionize, or charge, the surrounding air. That charged air flowing around the plane is warm enough to prevent ice from sticking. But cool enough that the lightweight materials can still withstand the heat! At least fifty degrees Celsius cooler than typical blowing hot air, according to the researchers.

This is like your portable electric heater–drawing electricity from the wall to heat up your room. Except using WAY higher voltage and on a massive scale.

Meng hopes his anti-icer can improve flying efficiency for modern-day aircraft.

Now that’s just PLANE cool!!