Canadian Company Develops Carbon-Based Icephobic Coating

Zentek Ltd., aka ZEN (Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada), an intellectual property development and commercialization company focused on next-gen healthcare solutions, announced the development of a new, patent-pending, carbon-based, nanotechnology-enhanced coating designed to prevent ice accretion. 

Various coatings were tested at a third-party lab for adhesion strength as measured by pressure in kPa required to dislodge ice from the surface. ZEN’s coating consistently demonstrated an adhesion strength around 20 kPa (~2.9 psi), a significant improvement over the current commercial products. For comparison, the ice adhesion strength of a bare aluminum alloy is ~500 kPa (~72.5 psi)—to be classified as icephobic, adhesive strength must be less than 100 kPa (14.5 psi). ZEN’s preliminary results demonstrated a 96% improvement over aluminum and 80% improvement over the 100 kPa threshold. 

This winter, ZEN’s coating will be included in flight testing on a specially equipped research aircraft under real world ice-forming weather conditions. ZEN will also test the feasibility of the coating as an effective passive means to de-ice drone propellers in flight to permit all-weather operations. If successful, this would permit safer drone operations in substantially more challenging weather conditions. 

“We continue to actively develop new nanotechnology-enabled applications in high-impact areas, which, in this case, has the potential to significantly increase safety for vehicles such as drones, aircraft, ocean vessels, wind turbines and other applications where, in cold weather climates, there is the potential for ice to accrete on surfaces, causing hazardous breakdowns in function,” says ZEN CEO Greg Fenton. “Our mission continues to be to develop innovative nanotechnologies that improve people’s lives – and while our focus is primarily on nanotechnology-enabled healthcare solutions – we are also making breakthroughs that substantially contribute in other industries that may result in vital steps forward to ensure public safety and enhance sustainability.”

Previous research has shown that while certain coatings may demonstrate the prevention of ice adhesion, they have been limited to a laboratory environment and questions remain about the durability necessary for them to be considered a practical application as an aircraft ice protection system. The development of a nanotechnology-enhanced coating with dispersed graphene may have the potential to address this through the enhancement of the bulk mechanical properties.

The company filed a provisional patent on its icephobic coating technology on August 9 of this year and has begun to explore partnership opportunities. 

Source: Zentek Ltd.,