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UAVs and ROVs

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are widely used in industries such as surveillance, inspection, and delivery. However, they face significant challenges when operating in cold and wet conditions. These challenges include icing problems and moisture penetration, which can limit operations, increase costs, pose risks, and impact the environment.

 

To address these challenges, collaboration among industry stakeholders, researchers, and regulatory bodies is necessary to develop and adopt effective solutions. As the demand for unmanned vehicles in challenging environments, including colder climates and atmospheric flight, continues to rise, it is crucial to prioritize technological advancements and establish practices that support safe and sustainable operations. This collaborative approach is essential to ensure the reliability and effectiveness of unmanned vehicles in these demanding conditions.

Broken gimbal camera and drone motor arm after crash on snowy road close up

Icing on UAVs and ROVs

The efforts by NanoTech Solutions Norway in addressing the challenges of ice formation on drones and its impact on flight operations are praiseworthy. In industries such as rescue teams, military, fire services, and critical healthcare suppliers, where timely response is crucial and weather-related setbacks are unacceptable, the use of drones can literally be a matter of life and death. Therefore, it is imperative to have a dependable and efficient system in place to ensure reliable operations in these critical scenarios. NanoTech Solutions Norway's commitment to tackling this issue contributes significantly to enhancing the effectiveness and reliability of drones in such vital industries.

The challenges of icing on drones and ROVs have significant implications for their performance and operation. Here are some key points to consider.

Operational Challenges
Icing can negatively impact sensors, aerodynamics, and weight, which can reduce the efficiency and performance of drones and ROVs in cold and harsh weather conditions.

 

Financial Implications
Traditional anti-icing methods incur higher production costs, technical challenges, and a greater digital signature, all of which increase operational expenses. Maintenance, repairs, and downtime due to weather also impact financial aspects.

 

Safety Risks
Icing reduces control capabilities and manoeuvrability, compromise control systems, and may lead to accidents or collisions. Malfunctions caused by ice can put critical missions like search and rescue activities in jeopardy.

 

Environmental Impact
Icing also contributes to a higher carbon footprint due to increased energy consumption for anti-icing technologies. Incidents or failures caused by frost and ice may result in environmental pollution, especially in sensitive ecosystems where ROVs are used in research and exploration.

 

Holistic Approach
Effective strategies to address icing require a comprehensive approach and collaboration between regulatory bodies, industry stakeholders, and environmental organizations to establish guidelines for safe drone and ROV operations in difficult environments.

 

Research and Innovation
Continued research and innovation are crucial to find effective solutions to combat icing problems, reduce their impact, and improve the safety and reliability of drone and ROV operations.

By addressing these challenges through technology development, collaboration, and regulatory guidance, it is possible to mitigate the negative effects of icing on drones and ROVs, making these technologies even more reliable and effective.
 

Drone in snow and rain

Preventive and proven measures

Yes, superhydrophobic coatings such as Hirec and Ultra-Ever Dry (UED) have shown promising results in addressing challenges caused by ice, snow, and rain on critical equipment like drones and ROVs. These coatings create a water-repellent surface, preventing the adhesion of ice and snow and allowing them to easily slide off. By forming a barrier, they also help keep water away from sensitive electronic components, reducing the risk of short-circuits and equipment damage.

The successful tests conducted by the fire service further demonstrate the effectiveness of these coatings in providing protection against ice, snow, and water penetration. Implementing superhydrophobic coatings on critical equipment can significantly enhance their performance and reliability in challenging weather conditions.

Prevention of Ice Formation

Superhydrophobic coatings offer a significant advantage in preventing the initial formation of ice by minimizing the contact area between the surface and water. This proactive approach inhibits the crystallization process of ice, reducing the chances of ice adhering to critical components of drones and ROVs, such as propellers, sensors, and circuit boards.

Ice Release

In cases where ice has already formed on a coated surface, superhydrophobic coatings facilitate the release of accumulated ice. The reduced adhesion between the icy layer and the coated surface enables natural forces like motion or vibration to dislodge and remove the ice. This feature prevents any degradation in vehicle performance caused by ice accumulation.

 

Improved Durability and Longevity

Superhydrophobic coatings contribute to the overall durability and longevity of drones and ROVs by protecting them from harsh environmental elements like ice, snow, and rain. By reducing exposure to these conditions, these coatings help preserve the structural integrity of the vehicles, ultimately lowering the frequency of maintenance and repairs and extending operational uptime.

Waterproof electronics

Electrical insulator

Hydrophobic coatings that use silica have become really popular because they are amazing at repelling water. These coatings, like Ultra-Ever Dry (UED), use silica to create surfaces that water can't stick to. They can be used on lots of different materials, like metals, glass, and plastics, to make them really resistant to water.

What makes UED and similar coatings special is that they use silica, which has some advantages:

 

Water Repellency

The coatings made with silica act like lotus leaves, which are really good at repelling water. When water droplets touch these coated surfaces, they form little beads and roll right off, so the surface stays dry.

Electrical Insulation

Silica is also great at keeping electricity safe. When used in coatings like UED, it helps protect electrical components from damage caused by water. It keeps the inside of circuit boards and electronic devices safe from moisture.

Versatility

Silica-based coatings can be used on many different things, which makes them really useful. They work well for electrical insulation, preventing corrosion, and making things resistant to water in lots of different situations. The electrical insulation properties of Ultra-Ever Dry (UED), which is made from silicon dioxide, make it a great option for preventing electrical issues. Here are some important points about its insulation capabilities, uses, and things to consider:

Dielectric Properties

Silica is a good insulating material that doesn't conduct electricity. By using silica in coatings, UED helps stop electricity from passing through the treated surface, which is essential for electrical insulation.

Water Repellency

UED creates a surface that repels water well. This is important for electrical systems because water can cause electrical problems. UED's water-repellent nature keeps moisture away from the material underneath, reducing the risk of electrical issues.

Preventing Moisture-Induced Problems

Moisture, whether as liquid water or humidity, can affect how well materials insulate. UED forms a barrier that stops water from getting to the material underneath, reducing the risk of moisture-related electrical issues.

Applications

UED can be used on various electrical parts and systems, like electrical panels, circuit boards, and outdoor installations such as power lines. It helps protect these components from moisture and provides extra insulation.

Durability Considerations

To be effective at providing electrical insulation, silica-based coatings like UED need to be durable over time. For example, exposure to UV radiation and wear from use should be considered when choosing a coating. UED cures quickly, making it good for fast insulation applications, but it may not be very resistant to wear.

Application Techniques

Proper application techniques are important for a uniform and effective coating. UED is easy to apply, making it good for treating exposed components with good results.

Not a Complete Replacement

While superhydrophobic coatings like UED can help with electrical insulation by keeping out water, they shouldn't completely replace traditional insulation materials. The choice of materials and coatings should depend on the specific needs of the application and the environmental conditions.

In summary, UED's dielectric properties, water repellency, and easy application make it a useful option for improving electrical insulation and reducing moisture-related issues in different electrical applications. However, it should be used in combination with other insulation methods when necessary to meet specific requirements and environmental conditions.

Protects and insulates

Superwater-repellent coatings, including those made from silica, offer many advantages for drones and underwater vehicles operating in tough environmental conditions. These coatings not only keep water away but also protect against dust, dirt, and pollutants. Let's explore the key benefits of using such coatings.

Better Performance in Wet and Cold Conditions
Drones and underwater vehicles often have to work in wet or rainy environments. Coatings like Ultra-Ever Dry help keep electrical components safe by preventing water damage and preserving the insulation properties of circuit boards and parts. Meanwhile, Hirec is effective in shielding critical vehicle parts from the impact of ice and snow, ensuring optimal performance.

Less Maintenance
Superwater-repellent coatings create a protective barrier against moisture, which can substantially reduce the maintenance needs of these vehicles. This is particularly important for drones and underwater vehicles that are often deployed in remote or challenging areas with limited access for maintenance and repairs.

Extended Lifespan of Electronics
Water exposure is a common cause of degradation for electronic components. Ice and snow can also lead to the deterioration of critical parts needed for optimal performance and durability. By implementing proactive solutions like superwater-repellent coatings, we can extend the lifespan and operating time of these vehicles, reducing the need for premature replacements and associated costs.

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