AST wins USAF contract to develop icephobic coating for aircraft

23 June 2020 (Last Updated June 23rd, 2020 15:12)

Adaptive Surface Technologies (AST) has secured a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to develop an icephobic coating.

AST wins USAF contract to develop icephobic coating for aircraft
AST has secured a SBIR Phase II contract from the USAF to develop an icephobic coating. Credit: Nicholas Priest on Unsplash.

Adaptive Surface Technologies (AST) has secured a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to develop an icephobic coating.

Awarded under the USAF’s AFWERX programme, the $499,000 contract will see the development of a coating that improves pre-flight and in-flight anti-icing properties on military aircraft and avionics.

The contract will build upon results obtained during the AST’s SBIR Phase I Feasibility Study.

AST CEO David Ward said: “Ice accumulation in aviation continues to be an unsolved and highly costly issue, both in terms of human toll and dollars spent on mitigation for manned and unmanned aircraft.

“By developing an intrinsically icephobic coating system, based from AST’s existing technology, we can help solve many of the challenges related to military and commercial aircraft icing mitigation, and we are delighted to be working with the USAF on a solution.”

Last year, a new coating for the USAF based on AST’s existing antifouling marine coating was launched.

SLIPS Foul Protect marine coating reduces the adhesion of unwanted biological fouling on any given surface. It will be chemically modified to optimise its properties for ice-repellency and durability.

AST’s Active Performance Ingredients (API) packages will be combined with a low surface energy binder system to create a robust coating system.

With strong repellent functions, including anti-ice, low adhesion, non-fouling, the coating system will maintain superior mechanical durability.

Ward added: “In addition to the military uses inside of and on the airframe, commercial airliners spend hundreds of millions every year on icing mitigation efforts in terms of hardware, chemicals and operations disruption.

“In addition to the savings our novel coating can bring, existing ice de-icing strategies are very environmentally challenging. AST’s common approach across all our market sectors is for our products to deliver economic benefit along with environmental advantages.”