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Icing Protection System for Composite Structures Using Carbon Fiber Heating Elements



Long ago, carbon fibers were considered an exotic material. Only high performance applications could justify the use of carbon fiber composite parts. Over the years, production processes have accelerated and the cost of the formerly esoteric material has dropped. Their strength-to-weight ratio is the root of their high demand, nevertheless, they exhibit other advantageous physical properties, such as electrical conductivity. Processing of metal wires or films in a fiber-reinforced composite can be cumbersome and require advanced tooling. If carbon fibers could replace metallic wires and films as an effective embedded heating element in composite structures, then the processing of embedded composite heaters could be done at a lower cost; assuming that the textile weaving process could be automated, and that any postprocessing of the textile to maintain its quality would be less costly than that of the aforementioned metals. In this study, composite plates laminated with a carbon fiber heater have been fabricated and tested in a small scale icing wind tunnel. The performance of the carbon fiber heater matched that of a similar laminate made with a metallic heating filament for icing protection applications.

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