Turbine Blade De-Icing with Microwaves - Test


Testbed Diagram describing Wind Turbine Blade De-Icing internals
Testbed Diagram
GE Logo


Increased blade life & efficiency, safer operation of cold weather turbines; decrease turbine down‐time


Investigate the use of microwave de‐icing technology to enhance the performance of wind turbine blades operating in cold environments

Background and Objectives

Spring 2015 Feasible Study

  • Deicing requires: surface heat flux of 1.4kW/m2 ,20‐25 minutes of test period and microwave interactive material
  • Options: horn antenna and slotted waveguide antenna at 2.45 or 5.8 GHz

Semester Objectives

  • Design and test blade‐compatible microwave susceptor coating layer
  • Demonstrate effective microwave delivery at 2.45GHz
  • Build a microwave laboratory test facility and collect deicing data

Microwave Absorbing Materials

Microwave Absorbing Materials


  • G10/FR4 and Ice are transparent to incident microwave radiation


  • Susceptor coating on blade surface


  • Maximize conversion of absorbed microwave radiation to heat
  • Withstand cyclic thermal stress
  • Resistant to UV degradation

Comparison of Coating Methods

  Uniform Surface? Easy to apply to blade? Resistant to degradaton? %Absorption? Rate of heating Max temp
Sputtered AI Film Yes  No No Up to 50% < 3 min 200 °C
Absorptive Paint Yes Yes Yes Up to 40% N/A 900 °C
Dielectric Coating Yes Yes Yes Up to 99% < 1 min 800-950 °C

Microwave System

Microwave generation:

  • Operates at 2.45 GHz
  • Microwave Power – ~ 1 kW : 60% efficient
  • Cheap – around $50
  • Easy to drive – circuits already exist
  • Air cooled

Microwave delivery options:

Type SWA Horn Antenna
Profile Low (planar form) High
Manufacturing Good OK
Bandwidth Narrow Broad
Gain 15dBi - 20dBi 15dBi - 30dBi
Pattern Highly directional Moderately directional

Practical Application

Tower Configuration

  • Arrays of SWAs
    • 42 SWAs needed for gain of 9 dBi
  • Arrays of horns
    • 110 horns needed for gain of 10 dBi
    • 40 horns needed for gain of15 dBi

Blade Configuration

  • SWA incorporated inside the blade

Blade diagram

Microwave Deicing Test Results

Composite Sample - Ice Melting Time


  • Ice melted within 30 mins
  • Test bed ambient temperature remained below freezing
Team Members: 
  • Henry Choi (EE) 
  • Mengqian Gao (MECL)
  • Kevin Hritz (MECL)
  • Yuyu Hsueh (EE)
  • Ryan Jenkins (MECL)
  • Kelly Pifer (MECL)
  • Yuhan Shi (EE)
  • Alex Wholey (MATL)
Focus Area: 
Energy and the Environment
Project Type: