Design, Fabrication, and Testing of an Ultrasonic De-Icing System for Helicopter Rotor Blades

Open Access
Palacios, Jose Luis
Graduate Program:
Aerospace Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 14, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Edward A Smith, Committee Chair
  • Joseph Rose, Committee Chair
  • Farhan Gandhi, Committee Member
  • Cengiz Camci, Committee Member
  • Bernhard R Tittmann, Committee Member
  • Kon Well Wang, Committee Member
  • dispersion curves
  • icing rotor blades
  • ice protection
  • anti-icing
  • de-icing
  • ultrasound
  • wave structure
  • high power ultrasound
A low-power, non-thermal ultrasonic de-icing system is introduced as a possible substitute for current electro-thermal systems. The system generates delaminating ultrasonic transverse shear stresses at the interface of accreted ice. A PZT-4 disk driven at 28.5 KHz (radial resonance of the disk) instantaneously de-bonds 2 mm thick freezer ice layers. The ice layers are accreted to a 0.7 mm thick, 30.4 cm x 30.4 cm steel plate at an environment temperature of -200 C. A power input of 50 Watts is applied to the actuator (50 V, 19.6 KV/m), which translates to a de-icing power of 0.07 W/cm2. A finite element model of the actuator bonded to the isotropic plate is used to guide the design of the system, and predicts the transverse shear stresses at the ice interface. Wind tunnel icing tests were conducted to demonstrate the potential use of the proposed system under impact icing conditions. Both glaze ice and rime ice were generated on steel and composite plates by changing the cloud conditions of the wind tunnel. Continuous ultrasonic vibration prevented impact ice formation around the actuator location at an input power not exceeding 0.18 W/cm2 (1.2 W/in2). As ice thickness reached a critical thickness of approximately 1.2 mm, shedding occurred on those locations where ultrasonic transverse shear stresses exceeded the shear adhesion strength of the ice. Finite element transverse shear stress predictions correlate with observed experimental impact ice de-bonding behavior. To increase the traveling distance of propagating ultrasonic waves, ultrasonic shear horizontal wave modes are studied. Wave modes providing large modal interface transverse shear stress concentration coefficients (ISCC) between the host structure (0.7 mm thick steel plate) and accreted ice (2.5 mm thick ice layer) are identified and investigated for a potential increase in the wave propagation distance. Ultrasonic actuators able to trigger these optimum wave modes are designed and fabricated. Despite exciting wave modes with high ISCC values, instantaneous ice de-bonding is not observed at input powers under 100 Watts. The two triggered ultrasonic wave modes of the structure occur at high excitation frequencies, 202 KHz and 500 KHz respectively. At these frequencies, the ultrasonic actuators do not provide large enough transverse shear stresses to exceed the shear adhesion strength of the ice layer. Neither the actuator exciting the SH1 mode (202 KHz), nor the actuator triggering the SH2 mode (500 KHz) instantaneously de-bonds ice layers with an input power under 100 Watts.