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Ice


— Aircraft

A pinch of graphene could keep airplane wings ice-free

Both airplane wings and helicopter rotor blades are subject to one problem – they can both ice up. Although de-icing solutions can be applied when aircraft are on the ground, that doesn't stop ice from eventually forming once they're in the air. That's why scientists at Texas' Rice University have developed a new graphene-based coating that continuously melts ice by conducting an electrical current.

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— Materials

Beetles inspire ice-resistant aircraft surfaces

Rerouting warm engine air and pumping ice-melting chemicals onto the wings are a couple of ways to keep aircraft surfaces free of frost during flight, but researchers are looking for a more efficient technique. Taking their inspiration from a water-gathering desert beetle, scientists have developed a patterned surface on which the spread of ice can be controlled and prevented. They say the material could be scaled up and applied to not only aircraft parts, but also wind turbines, heat pump coils and car windshields.

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— Space

Rosetta confirms the presence of water ice deposits on the surface of comet 67P

New analysis of data collected by ESA's Rosetta orbiter has revealed significant quantities of water ice on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P). While the presence of water had previously been observed on 67P both in the comet's coma, and as frost on the surface, this discovery represents the first time that a surface deposit of water ice has ever been definitively confirmed on the comet.

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— Good Thinking

City of Edmonton gets its own Ice Castle

When Brent Christensen moved from California to Utah several years ago, he took advantage of the colder climate by building his kids a backyard ice rink … although that rink also included an ice slide, an ice cave, and a 20-ft (6-m) castle-like ice tower. People saw it, they liked it, and the Ice Castles business was born. Since then, Christensen and his team have built their elaborate Ice Castles in a few select American cities every winter. Last month, however, they began construction on a castle in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – their first-ever creation outside the US. We dropped by, to get a first-hand look at the construction process.

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Salt-impregnated asphalt de-ices itself

Living someplace that gets snow in the winter may have its perks, but the ice-melting salt that's spread on the roads isn't one of them. Besides the fact that it gets all over our cars and clothing, it also has to be reapplied throughout the winter, harming the environment in the process. If a new type of asphalt reaches production, however, salt-spreading may become a thing of the past.

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— Environment

Claimed darkening of ice sheet could actually be down to aging satellite sensors

In recent years, satellite photos of Greenland's ice sheet have shown what appears to be a darkening of the ice's surface. A number of scientists have suggested that this could be due to settled soot particles from fossil fuel production and/or forest fires, and that their presence could result in accelerated melting of the ice. Now, however, researchers from Dartmouth College believe that the ice may still still be relatively clean, and that its darkness in the photos could just be due to faulty sensors on the satellites.

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— Good Thinking

Advanced Rail Cleaner blasts snow and ice off railway tracks

Imagine if you were trying to pull a heavy sled up an icy hill, while wearing slick-soled boots. Well, that's kind of what it's like for locomotives working on snowy mountain railways. If there's too much ice or snow on the rails, their steel wheels will just spin out when traveling up inclines. Because of this problem, trains going along such routes are generally kept short and light – which isn't cost-effective. Now, however, GE Transportation has developed a supersonic air blower to keep those tracks dry. Read More
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