Superhydrophobic material is extremely waterproof. Phobic means having an extreme or irrational fear of something. Hydro means water. Therefore, a superhydrophobic material has an irrational fear of water. It causes water to amass and form beads that sit on the surface. The water becomes more attracted to itself than it is to the surface. There are many examples of superhydrophobic surfaces in nature, such as butterfly wings, lotus leaves, and duck feathers. Now we are making strides creating our own superhydrophobic materials, often borrowing the designs from nature.
What’s the latest superhydrophobic material research?
Engineers at Brigham Young University (BYU) are developing superhydrophobic surfaces that they believe could be used in energy production processes, such as power plants and solar energy systems, to improve efficiency. In order to create superhydrophobic surfaces, researchers etched ridges onto materials and then coated them with a thin layer of a hydrophobic material, such as Teflon. They then used high-speed cameras to record how water engages with the surface of the material. They have published their findings thus far in Physics of Fluids.
Solar farms, the world’s largest of which opened this year in the Mojave Desert in California, generate electricity by using enormous mirrors to redirect sunlight onto boilers to produce high-temperature steam that drives generator turbines. The steam must then be fed back into the system to be reused. This is accomplished by condensing it back into a liquid. If the surfaces of the condensers were superhydrophobic, the steam would simply roll off once in liquid form.
Lead researchers Julie Crockett and Dan Maynes assert that if superhydrophobic surfaces were applied to photovoltaic cells, the conversion of solar energy into electricity could also become more efficient because the material would be kept clean.
What are other applications of superhydrophobic coatings?
You don’t have to design a material down to the microscopic scale in order to make it waterproof. There are a variety of coatings that enhance the performance and lifespan of materials. Superhydrophobic coatings have diverse applications across industries, including the automotive, commercial, aerospace, alternative energy, industrial, and consumer products industries. We specialize in providing custom coating and saturation services within these industries. To learn more, visit our capabilities page.