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Breaking the Ice

Imagine a winter in New Hampshire without ever having to scrape ice from your windshield. Dartmouth College engineering professor Victor Petrenko has developed a deicing technology that runs off a car battery-potentially making that bit of cold drudgery a thing of the past. Embedded in a car windshield are electrodes made of indium tin oxide (a transparent conductor). A power converter transforms the car battery’s direct current into high-frequency alternating current, which heats the ice much the way microwaves heat water. Unlike conventional windshield defrosters, Petrenko’s system heats just the ice, not the windshield. The system is much faster and more effective than conventional defrosters and uses a tenth the energy. Petrenko is developing deicers using similar technology for the interiors of freezers. Dartmouth has licensed the deicing technology to Torvec, a Pittsford, NY, developer of off-road tracked vehicles; vehicles using the deicer should be on the market within two years.

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