If you remember that scene from the Iron Man movie where Tony Stark has to solve a high-altitude icing problem on his Iron Man suit, that scene didn’t just come out of nowhere. Icing is a very real concern in the aerospace industry because airplanes and spacecraft can be susceptible to mechanical failures if ice starts forming in their moving parts or electronics systems. Ice protection systems like the lightweight one recently announced by UTC Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp, are designed to prevent ice from causing problems for aircraft in flight.
UTC Aerospace Systems has made arrangements with Metis Design Corp for an exclusive license to manufacture a carbon nanotube (CNT) heater based technology for aircraft electrothermal ice protection. The technology is designed to meet greater demand for ice protection systems that are lightweight, durable, damage-tolerant and energy efficient. The new system is designed to be more efficient than bleed air systems without sacrificing performance. The thin layers of carbon nanotubes help to increase damage tolerance and allow for lower thermal inertia.
“CNT technology is ideally suited for our ice protection product line,” said Dr. Mauro Atalla, Vice President, Engineering and Technology, Sensors & Integrated Systems, UTC Aerospace Systems. Several of UTC Aerospace System’s customers have reported getting good results with the new systems in wind tunnel tests. Ice protection systems are one of several possible applications for carbon nanotubes in the aerospace industry.
UTC Aerospace Systems’ pneumatic de-icing, ice detection and electrothermal ice protection products can already be found on hundreds of airplane designs. It will manufacture its new ice protection system in Uniontown, OH, with support from Metis Design. While neither company has any known association with Stark Enterprises, UTC Aerospace Systems does have a history of providing quality products for the aerospace and defense industries.