Experimental investigation on the icing physics and anti-/de-Icing technology of an aircraft pitot probe
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Pitot probes are one of the most important components of an airplane, directly responsible for the flight safety and secure decisions of pilots by providing crucial airspeed and altitude data. They are constantly at risk of performance deterioration due to ice accretion that can block the stagnation port, thereby, providing incorrect readings to the pilot that can lead to fatal accidents if not treated immediately. By leveraging the unique Icing Research Tunnel at Iowa State University (i.e., ISU-IRT) a series of experimental studies are conducted to investigate the dynamic ice accretion process over the surface of a commonly-used aircraft pitot probe and to evaluate the effectiveness of various anti-/de-icing methods for Pitot probe icing mitigation. During the experiments, in addition to using a high-resolution imaging system to record the dynamic ice accretion and anti-/de-icing processes over the surface of the Pitot probe under different icing test conditions, a high-speed Infrared (IR) thermal imaging system is also used to map the corresponding surface temperature distributions on the Pitot probe in order to characterize the unsteady heat transfer process associated with the ice accretion and anti-/de-icing process. In addition to performing a parametric study to evaluate the performance of a conventional thermal-based icing protection system embedded inside the Pitot-probe as a function of the electric power input for the anti-/de-icing operation, a novel hybrid icing protection strategy is proposed that combines the electric heating with a bio-inspired superhydrophobic (SHS) coating to coat the Pitot probe in order to minimize the power consumption for the anti-/de-icing operation. In comparison to that required by the conventional thermal-based system to heat up the Pitot probe brutally for icing protection, the proposed hybrid strategy is found to be able to achieve completely ice free conditions over the entire surface of the Pitot probe with only about 35% of the required power input (i.e., up to 65% power consumption) for the anti-/de-icing operation.