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Icing Research

NASA’s icing research involves the development of tools and methods for evaluating and simulating the growth of ice on current and future aircraft surfaces or inside the engines and the effects that ice may have on the behavior of aircraft in flight.

At NASA Glenn Research Center, “We Freeze to Please”.

Large-Scale Swept Wing Model in the NASA Glenn Icing Research Tunnel
Ice accreted on a Large-Scale Swept Wing Model in the NASA Icing Research Tunnel

Our icing research teams utilize a refrigerated wind tunnel, an engine test cell, and small scale laboratories to create icing conditions for models and airfoils on the ground, as well as flying laboratories to study aircraft icing in the sky. They have also developed software tools to help predict ice growth and the effects of ice contamination on aircraft or inside of engines. The icing research conducted at NASA leads to developed and validated simulation methods, both computational and experimental, suitable for use as both certification and design tools when evaluating aircraft systems for operation in icing conditions. We are challenged to look forward to new technologies being developed and consider what potential issues may arise related to flight into icing.

An aircraft from 1945 in the Icing Research Tunnel
Ice on aircraft from 1945 in the Icing Research Tunnel

NASA began icing testing in 1944 with the completion of its Icing Research Tunnel – the longest running and second largest icing facility in the world.  Most ice protection technologies in use today were largely developed at this facility. We have provided information over the years that informed regulatory agencies on the range of icing conditions – via flight, ground, engineering tools, and databases, most recently for Supercooled Large Droplets (SLD) and High Ice Water Content (HIWC). As such, NASA leads international research on aircraft and engine icing, contributing to an increase in aircraft safety.

Aircraft Icing Research

Glenn technicians Paul Butterfield, left and Jason Bryant clean the ice off a large-scale swept-back wing model after ice accretion tests in the Icing Research Tunnel. These tests, in collaboration with the FAA and ONERA, the French Aerospace Lab, look at how ice accumulates on aircraft structures while in flight. Credit: NASA/Michelle Murphy

Airframe Icing

NASA’s airframe icing research involves the development of tools and methods for evaluating and simulating the growth of ice on current and future aircraft surfaces and the effects that ice may have on the behavior of aircraft in flight. Investigating ice that formed on the external surfaces of a vehicle in flight is how it … Read the rest ⇢

Airframe Icing
NASA’s airframe icing research involves the development of tools and methods for evaluating and simulating the growth of ice on current and future aircraft ...
Instruments to measure ice
Instruments to measure ice crystal icing installed in NASA’s PSL

Engine Icing

NASA has been performing experimental efforts aimed at providing datasets that can be used to generate models to predict the ice accretion inside current and future engine designs. Ice crystals found at high altitude near convective clouds are known to cause jet engine power-loss events.  These events occur due to ice crystals entering a propulsion … Read the rest ⇢

Instruments to measure ice
Engine Icing
NASA has been performing experimental efforts aimed at providing datasets that can be used to generate models to predict the ice accretion inside current ...
Laser scanning of ice on a rotor in NASA’s Icing Research Tunnel
Laser scanning of ice on a rotor in NASA’s Icing Research Tunnel (IRT).

Rotorcraft Icing

NASA has been performing computational and experimental efforts to look at the unique requirements of rotorcraft when exposed to icing conditions in flight. As part of the research portfolio in icing, NASA has investigated various aspects of rotorcraft icing over the years.  Rotorcraft can be more susceptible to the adverse effects of icing than large … Read the rest ⇢

Laser scanning of ice on a rotor in NASA’s Icing Research Tunnel
Rotorcraft Icing
NASA has been performing computational and experimental efforts to look at the unique requirements of rotorcraft when exposed to icing conditions in ...

Icing Research Facilities

Common Research Model
Common Research Model, CRM, in the Icing Research Tunnel

Icing Research Tunnel

NASA’s Glenn Research Center’s Icing Research Tunnel supports the development of tools and methods for simulating the growth of ice on aircraft surfaces as well as the development and certification of ice protection systems. The Icing Research Tunnel (IRT) is the longest running, second largest icing facility in the world and has been in operation … Read the rest ⇢

Common Research Model
Icing Research Tunnel
NASA’s Glenn Research Center’s Icing Research Tunnel supports the development of tools and methods for simulating the growth of ice on aircraft ...
Twin Otter research aircraft
Twin Otter research aircraft in front of the NASA Glenn hangar.

Flight Research Building

Built in the 1940s, the Flight Research Building (Hangar) is a 65 X 250 ft. heated facility that is large enough to hold numerous aircraft of various sizes. It has been home to many unique and innovative aircraft over the years. Home to many unique and innovative aircraft, the Flight Research Building, also known as … Read the rest ⇢

Twin Otter research aircraft
Flight Research Building
Built in the 1940s, the Flight Research Building (Hangar) is a 65 X 250 ft. heated facility that is large enough to hold numerous aircraft of various ...
Ice Measurement Probes in Propulsion Systems Laboratory,
Ice Measurement Probes in Propulsion Systems Laboratory (PSL).

Propulsion Systems Laboratory

The Propulsion Systems Laboratory (PSL) is NASA’s only ground-based test facility that provides true flight simulation for experimental research on air-breathing propulsion systems. The PSL has recently added the capability to simulate clouds of ice crystals and liquid water droplets. The Propulsion Systems Laboratory (PSL) complex provides world-class test and evaluation capabilities in support of … Read the rest ⇢

Ice Measurement Probes in Propulsion Systems Laboratory,
Propulsion Systems Laboratory
The Propulsion Systems Laboratory (PSL) is NASA’s only ground-based test facility that provides true flight simulation for experimental research on ...

Resources

The icing research team at NASA makes a wide selection of its varied training products, documents, and software codes available. Users are encouraged to explore the links listed below to locate technical documents, presentations, icing software applications, and icing related training products.

Documents

A collection of documents created by the icing research team at NASA has been made available. Users can view an abstract of selected articles with further links to the complete paper. Complete articles are offered in PDF format.

>Search for Available Documents

LEWICE 3D
LEWICE3D prediction of collection efficiency (color contours) and the resulting ice shape (at discrete cuts) along a wing.

Software

In flight ice accretion is a weather related hazard that has the potential to cause reduced performance or even failure of various aircraft components. Engineers at NASA have developed the LEWICE codes, which simulate how the water droplets from a cloud impact and grow ice on vehicles in flight. This allows for icing related analysis … Read the rest ⇢

LEWICE 3D
Software
In flight ice accretion is a weather related hazard that has the potential to cause reduced performance or even failure of various aircraft components. ...
Education and Training Tools are available for use by pilots

Education and Training

A couple of high quality education and training aids for pilots on various aspects of flight in icing conditions have been produced by NASA in conjunction with government and industry experts. These products are free online and have been widely used by the worldwide aviation community. A Pilot’s Guide to Ground Icing: A free on-line … Read the rest ⇢

Education and Training
A couple of high quality education and training aids for pilots on various aspects of flight in icing conditions have been produced by NASA in conjunction ...

Contact

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