Sample preparations at the Thermal spray lab at Tampere University

As a part of the icing research conducted at Novia UAS, one aim is to help forest and bioenergy companies with finding new solutions and ways of decreasing the freezing and adhesion of wood chips to storage container walls during cold weathers. In order to do so, close cooperation with the thermal spray and icing laboratories at project partner Tampere University has begun, where experimentation setup and work with different anti-icing and icephobic coatings and surfaces has started.

During a week in August, project personnel from Novia and Tampere University met at the thermal spray laboratory at TAU in order to prepare for and start up the collaborative experimentation work. As the goal of the experimentation is to investigate wood chip freezing behavior on differently coated surfaces, the first part of the preparations consisted of treating and coating the surfaces of test boxes and sample plates. These will later be filled with wood chips and placed in a cold room, after which different centrifugation, cycling and adhesion tests will be performed.

The project personnel from Tampere University and Novia UAS in front of a flame-sprayed polyethylene metal plate
Picture 1. Flame spraying of polyethylene coatings on metal plates in the thermal spray lab at Tampere University. From left to right: Jari Oja (TAU), Heli Koivuluoto (TAU), Anssi Metsähonkala (TAU), Jarkko Lehti (TAU), Julien Walser (Novia UAS) and Katrin Asplund (Novia UAS).

The coatings were done by flame spraying LD-PE powder onto the sides of the metal test boxes with the help of a robot (ABB IRB 4400/60), gun (CastoDyn DS 8000) and the powder feeder (Sulzer Metco 4MP). By carefully programming and adjusting pretreatment conditions as well as parameters such as temperatures, pressures, powder feeding rates and layers, a dense polyethylene coating could be created.

Thermal coating setup and equipment
Picture 2. The setup and equipment used for thermally coating the box sides (on the left), and a thermally sprayed polyethylene coated test surface (on the right).

Test plate thermally sprayed with PE- coating

 

For the box tests, three metal boxes will be used: one box coated with the flame spayed polyethylene (FS-PE), one flame sprayed with SLIPS and one untreated box for reference. Furthermore, a box made of PE- Quicksilver will used. In addition to the boxes, small sample plates for the centrifugation adhesion tests (CAT) were also prepared with the flame sprayed polyethylene coating (FS-PE), whereas more CAT samples will be made with other surface coatings, ie. FS-SLIPS, hydrophobic coatings, and oils such as silicon and rapeseed and tested out with the frozen wood chips in the icing laboratory.

Samples ready to be coated
Picture 3. CAT samples ready for coating (on the left), coated test box and logos (on the right).

Coated test box

Starting off 2020 – Project Meeting in Luleå

On the 13 – 14th of February, the NoICE project group gathered in snowy Luleå to hold a third project meeting. Present were participants from all five partner universities; Luleå University of Technology, Umeå University, Tampere University, University of Vaasa as well as Novia University of Applied Sciences, and the meeting offered a perfect opportunity for both new and old icing experts to sit down together and discuss topical issues.

The project group has so far concentrated much of their efforts on conducting a series of case and simulation studies on a couple of themes related to icing. The perspectives of the studies are as well wide as detailed, and the research portfolio consist of e.g. train delay studies using weather station data and simulations as a base for predictions, as well as laboratory testing and simulation of ice accretion under different conditions, using differently treated surfaces and materials.

Project group gathering in Luleå
From left to right: Jun Yu (UmU), Andreas Willfors (Novia), Mats Johansson (UmU), Heli Koivuluoto (TAU), Patrik Eklund (UmU), Katrin Asplund (Novia), Jyri Nieminen (UVA), Jianfeng Wang (UmU), Roberto Mantas Nakhai (LTU) and Jari Oja (TAU)

As the overarching goal of the project is to support companies and industries with overcoming problems related to atmospheric icing and to create a permanent icing competence center, the topics of research are tailored to bridge specific challenges encountered by the companies within the region.

Does your company have a distinct wintertime icing problem you want us to look into? Don’t hesitate to be in contact with us, either through this link or through our LinkedIn page!

Field Tests for Icephobic Surfaces in Lohtaja

Researchers, PhD Student Henna Niemelä-Anttonen and Dr. Heli Koivuluoto from Tampere University (TAU), got a great opportunity to test icephobic surfaces in Lohtaja in the training area of the Finnish Defence Forces. This test experience was done in March 2019.

Thanks to Mr. Riku Niemenmaa from The Finnish Defence Forces, TAU got this chance to investigate the outdoor behavior of our surfaces in the small plane Banshee. Different surface designs were fixed to the leading edge of the plane and their behavior during the flight was pictured with a GoPro camera.

Banshee planeResearchers in Lohtaja

Before tests: Surfaces fixed for the test. Researchers ready to observe testing setup in the field.

Surfaces during the flights in two-days testing. In the first day, it was snowing and temperature close to 0˚C whereas in the second day, the weather was sunny and temperature around -5˚C.

After the flights the tested surfaces were visually in a good shape, not damaged. This indicates their potential to be used in outdoor conditions. Research and development continue based on the findings and observations during this experience. Field tests are very important as the next step after laboratory testing. Application-related requirements need to be carefully considered while developing icephobic surfaces. In TAU, the icephobic surfaces are developed by using several surface engineering solutions and then evaluating the icing performance of the surfaces and materials in the Icing lab with the icing wind tunnel (IWiT), the centrifugal ice adhesion testing (CAT) and other supporting characterization techniques. During this Lohtaja trip the TAU icing research team got a lot of new knowledge for future development, by improving understanding of application-related behavior and requirements. This is encouraging for continued research and development of the best icephobic solutions.

Text by Heli Koivuluoto
Pictures by Henna Niemelä-Anttonen and Heli Koivuluoto