Combating Frosting with Joule-Heated Liquid-Infused Superhydrophobic Coatings.

Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids

PubMedID: 27021948

Elsharkawy M, Tortorella D, Kapatral S, Megaridis CM. Combating Frosting with Joule-Heated Liquid-Infused Superhydrophobic Coatings. Langmuir. 2016;.
Frost formation is omnipresent when suitable environmental conditions are met. A good portion of research on combating frost formation has revolved around the passive properties of superhydrophobic (SHPO) and slippery lubricant-impregnated porous (SLIP) surfaces. Despite much progress, the need for surfaces that can effectively combat frost formation over prolonged periods still remains. In this work, we report, for the first time, the use of electrically conductive SHPO/SLIP surfaces for active mitigation of frost formation. First, we demonstrate the failure of these surfaces to passively avert prolonged (several hours) frosting. Next, we make use of their electroconductive property for active Joule heating, which results in the removal of any formed frost. We study the role of the impregnating lubricant in the heat transfer across the interface, the surface, and the ambient. We show that, even though the thermal properties of the impregnating lubricant may vary drastically, the lubricant type does not noticeably affect the defrosting behavior of the surface. We attribute this outcome to the dominant thermal resistance of the thick frost layer formed on the cooled surface. We support this claim by drawing parallels between the present system and heat transfer through a one-dimensional (1D) composite medium, and solving the appropriate transient transport equations. Lastly, we propose periodic thermal defrosting for averting frost formation altogether. This methodology utilizes the coating's passive repellent capabilities, while eliminating the dominant effect of thick deposited frost layers. The periodic heating approach takes advantage of lubricants with higher thermal conductivities, which effectively enhance heat transfer through the porous multiphase surface that forms the first line of defense against frosting.