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ARM Innovation Hub
28 September, 2017 - 13:28 By Tony Quested

Cambridge technology aims to save aviation giants billions

TWI Cambridge

Anti-soiling and anti-icing IP based on patented technology from TWI in Cambridge is being targeted at global customers in a move that could save lives as well as billions of dollars for airlines and industrial giants.

Opus Materials Technologies is commercialising the nano-coating technology and is in dialogue with major players across a range of industries worldwide. They include Boeing and Airbus and leading organisations in Dubai.

Iced up planes not only put passengers lives at risk in flight but cost airlines an estimated $3 billion a year in keeping jets on the ground while problems are treated. It is a near-constant issue in territories such as Russia and Canada.

Opus, based at St John’s Innovation Centre in Cambridge, is also talking to AeroMobil about using the technology for its pioneering flying car.

In desert territories where solar power is king, clogging caused by sand is the enemy – but these are just two of scores of potential applications for the nano-coating solution, says Opus.

A self-cleaning property in the coating could also prove a boon for keeping glass towers such as The Shard in pristine condition in cities around the globe.

Opus was founded in 2014 to explore multi-billion market opportunities for the TWI IP and has just secured over £3.5 million funding in the EU and UK to develop anti-soiling and anti-icing coatings for use in the renewable energy and aerospace markets. Key funding bodies include Innovate UK and Horizon 2020 but Opus has injected substantial amounts of its own cash in the early commercialisation process.

The funding is being used to develop a comprehensive portfolio of market-ready industrial coatings and to oversee their deployment across real-world projects in key vertical markets over the next two years.

Opus plans to have first product to market in the anti-soiling arena by 2019 with the anti-icing solution as soon as possible after that.

The anti-soiling coating is being developed to eliminate the need to manually remove dirt build-up on solar modules, thus optimising their performance and energy generation efficiency.

The anti-icing coating is being developed to prevent ice from forming on aircraft improving industrial O&M and reducing the risk of fatal accidents caused by ice shedding. It is also envisaged that the technology will have cross-sector applications for wind turbines, maritime vessels and the auto industry.

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