Skip to main content

‘Dynamic defrosting’ tech promises to clear your windshield 10 times faster

dynamic defrosting tech 23208633 l
One of the absolute worst things about winter living in a cold place is having to defrost your car windshield every morning. Fortunately, researchers from Virginia Tech are here to help, courtesy of new technology that’s capable of defrosting surfaces 10 times faster than normal. Remember who to thank when this tech lets you get an extra half-hour of shut-eye in deepest, darkest December!

“What we have developed is a water-repellent aluminum surface that traps millions of tiny air pockets underneath a sheet of frost growing atop the surface,” Jonathan Boreyko, an assistant professor in Virginia Tech’s Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics (BEAM) department, told Digital Trends.

“Picture a person lying on top of a bed of nails, but now replace the person with a sheet of frost. Surfaces that trap air underneath water drops are called superhydrophobic and have been well known for about two decades now. But what makes our findings so exciting is that we extend the concept to frost, instead of just liquid water. This is exciting because during defrosting, the underlying air pockets enable the melting ice to rapidly roll down the surface, even at very low tilt angles.”

The researchers call this “dynamic defrosting” — and say it could be used for everything from the aforementioned midwinter car windshields to airplanes to heat pumps. The work is described in a paper published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Boreyko says that the work builds on previous research he has carried out regarding superhydrophobic surfaces. Like some of the most significant discoveries, it also came from a deeply personal place.

“My breakthrough regarding the dynamic defrosting idea was realizing that frost is nothing more than frozen dew droplets,” he continued. “So if we could trap air underneath dew droplets to make them highly mobile, it followed that we should be able to trap air underneath frost to make it mobile upon melting. This first occurred to me in the wintertime when I was running late to work, and was getting frustrated at how long it took to defrost my car.”

From here, the plan is to develop the work for possible commercialization, although Boreyko acknowledged that there’s still work to be done in this regard.

“Namely, the nanostructured superhydrophobic surface required for dynamic defrosting is quite delicate and prone to degradation under real-life conditions,” he said. “Other researchers have been investigating self-healing superhydrophobic coatings, so one approach for future work is to attempt a self-healing superhydrophobic defroster. Another possibility is focusing on applications that don’t require long-term durability, such as a RainX-type spray that can be reapplied as needed.”

Once things are ready, though, this is totally a Kickstarter we’re on board for!

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Treat your furry friend with the best pet tech at CES 2019
best pet tech ces 2019 wagz smart door feat

People love their pets and CES was packed with technology to prove it. We saw gadgets galore for cats and dogs, from self-cleaning toilets to remote cameras. Some are genius, some may be slightly mad, but all are designed especially for your furry friends.
Pet Cube 2 ($180)
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

We're big fans of the original Pet Cube -- a camera for checking up on your cat or dog while you're out and about. Pet Cube 2 is smaller and features a refined design. You can see how your pet is doing by connecting remotely on your phone and you can talk to them and hear them thanks to the two way audio. The dog version also allows you to dispense treats, while the cat version has a built-in laser toy.
The Little Cat ($1,800)

Read more
D-Link’s 5G router promises up to 40 times faster speeds than your broadband
d links new 5g home router link nr  dwr 2010

Ahead of CES 2019, D-Link announced a new home broadband router and modem that ditches the traditional connection to either a cable or DSL line in favor of 5G network access. The 5G-capable D-Link DWR-2010 5G NR Enhanced Gateway supports download speeds up to 3Gbps, which is up to 40 times faster than the average broadband speeds in U.S. homes. The average fixed-line broadband speed is around 70Mbps, the company claimed, citing a Forbes report.

In addition to faster speeds, D-Link's new 5G router will also work with the company's other Wi-Fi routers to create a mesh network. The D-Link DWR-2010 5G NR will also support voice over LTE, or VoLTE, capabilities. It comes with five Ethernet ports and support for four external antennas for LTE and 5G NR network access. Essentially, the D-Link 5G NR Enhanced Gateway is like a mobile hotspot for your house.

Read more
The best portable power stations
EcoFlow DELTA 2 on table at campsite for quick charging.

Affordable and efficient portable power is a necessity these days, keeping our electronic devices operational while on the go. But there are literally dozens of options to choose from, making it abundantly difficult to decide which mobile charging solution is best for you. We've sorted through countless portable power options and came up with six of the best portable power stations to keep your smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets functioning while living off the grid.
The best overall: Jackery Explorer 1000

Jackery has been a mainstay in the portable power market for several years, and today, the company continues to set the standard. With three AC outlets, two USB-A, and two USB-C plugs, you'll have plenty of options for keeping your gadgets charged.

Read more