NASA is not your typical paint coating enthusiast, but as bug residue increasingly became a problem for aviation, they are creating their own solution. This paint coating should reduce bug buildup and prevent drag on the wings. Bug buildup is a huge economic issue because it creates turbulent airflow during take off and adds five to six percent of fuel usage from getting the plane through the friction.
They have been deep in research learning from the water-repelling properties of the lotus leaf and studying up on bug chemistry. Lotus leaves have microscopic texture that can repel water and dirt by adding surface tension. Bugs have great clotting properties that makes them stickier after getting splattered. Using these findings, NASA had to create a winning combination of a microscopic textured surface as well as a chemical coating to allow bug residue to slip off the surface of an airplane wing.
NASA has tested more than 200 coatings through fake flights, Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator, wind tunnel, and a bug gun. While there is still more research to be done, one coating and surface combination has produced 40% less bug residue letting the bug slip right off, a promising result.
This technology can be applied in not just the aerospace industry, but marine, car, and wind energy as well. The perfect coating would be able to minimize the size and number of bug residue and stand durable against harsh weather conditions, like rain, humidity, and sun radiation. The cost to produce this anti-bug coating needs to be able to withstand years of use as well as significantly save fuel costs. Once the technology is perfected and able to overcome those requirements, it will still be a very slow process for commercial airplanes to adopt this technology. However, the coating will be revolutionary. This could mean million dollar savings and protect the environment from more efficient flights.
NASA is hoping to be able to apply this technology to alleviate frost accumulation on planes as well.
While it’ll be a long time before this technology breaks into the exterior paint industry and keeps your exteriors clean from bug residue, trust Pro Painters to help you select and paint with durable high quality paints. Pro Painters is the leading Houston Painting Contractor many trust with Houston exterior painting and Houston interior painting. We’ve been serving Houston for over 20 years now and focus on getting the job done right, the first time.
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