That annoying winter
ritual that much of the country is forced to endure pre-commute (well, those of you who travel to work by car
instead of shuffling the five feet from bed to desk) may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a new film developed by
University College professor that can de-ice treated surfaces almost instantly. Engineering
prof Victor Petrenko (not, as Cnet helpfully points out, the same man who dazzled us-- though also on ice -- at the 1992
Olympics) had previously worked on creating ice-repellent materials with government funding before deciding that the
cold stuff will inherently stick to any surface due to its triple-bonding ability, and starting a company called Ice
Engineering to shift his research focus onto thin films that could be applied to existing structures. The result was a
breakthrough technology called pulse electrothermal de-icing (PETD), whose brief bursts of electricity not only break
the two strongest chemical bonds between ice and surface almost immediately, but can be shortened to actually cause the
ice to rapidly melt and re-freeze in a stronger bond for applications like skiing where greater stickiness is desired.
Although there are no immediate plans to implement this film onto passenger cars -- the first applications will be for
industrial de-icing of airplane wings, windshields, and turbines, and on the upcoming Swedish Uddevalla Bridge -- you
can bet that the Lexuses, BMW's, and Mercedes' of the world are eagerly eying this tech as yet another way to
differentiate their high-end offerings and justify those luxury pricetags.