Researching coatings to stop ice build-up on ships

"Coatings are an ideal solution as they require minimal changes to implement."

  • Our research programme is evaluating the performance of icephobic coatings.
  • Trials have been done on vessels deployed to Antarctica.
  • Coatings that show promise will be recommended for larger scale trials.

Ice accretion at sea is the build-up of frozen sea water on ships. For Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) vessels operating in Antarctic waters this is a significant risk to safety because the added weight of the ice reduces vessel stability and the effectiveness of the ice reinforcing belt.

Coatings are an ideal solution as they require minimal changes to implement. A number of commercial products are available but their durability and effectiveness in real world situations are not well understood.

We have a research programme working in conjunction with US and Canadian laboratories to evaluate the performance of icephobic coatings. Trials have been done in the laboratory and on vessels deployed to Antarctica. Initial work focussed on assessing how well ice adhered to the coating surface but more recently an impact test has been developed to better simulate how ice is removed by the ship’s crew.

Coatings that show promise will be recommended for larger scale trials and potential use on future platforms set to routinely operate in the Antarctic.

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