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New Invention Could Eliminate Need to Scrape Ice Off Your Car for Good

car covered in snowYou’re still going to have to brush the snow off, but if everything goes as planned, scraping ice off your car’s windshield could be left squarely in the rear view mirror. According to Tech Times, researchers and scientists from the University of Michigan have developed a solution to the incredibly frustrating and time-consuming process of scraping off ice buildup on a cold winter morning.

The study behind the new spray-on coating formula meant to break down ice buildup was led by Anish Tuteja, a professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UM. The research was published in the journal Science Advances and is the first real solution to this issue that’s found real success.

“Researchers had been trying for years to dial down ice adhesion strength with chemistry, making more and more water-repellent surfaces,” said Materials Science and Engineering graduate student Kevin Golovin. “We’ve discovered a new knob to turn, using physics to change the mechanics of how ice breaks free from a surface.”

The substance itself is described as a clear, rubbery solution that can be sprayed onto car windshields, airplanes, and other surfaces that require protection from being frozen over.

Instead of using water-based solutions, which is the typical choice of previous studies, the UM team of researchers decided to investigate how rubbery surfaces can effectively repel ice formations. The result was combining synthetic materials, such as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), polymethylhydrosiloxane (PMHS), and silicone oil to create the new ice-repellent product.

During testing, even though the formula didn’t completely eliminate ice from forming on things like car windshields, it made it so that the stuff that did collect was incredibly easy to brush off. The explanation behind this is a phenomenon known as interfacial cavitation.

The potential for this new product is pretty open. For instance, water damage and freezing alone account for about 22% of all homeowners insurance claims, which average out to $4,024 per claim.

The researchers believe that the product could begin to see uses in the commercial frozen food packaging industry within the next year, but it might take a little longer before you can use it to save yourself from a cold morning scrape.

“Using this technology in places like cars and airplanes will be very complex because of the stringent durability and safety requirements, but we’re working on it,” Tuteja said.

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