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Electricity science fair project
How to prevent ice build up on hydro power lines

Project Information
Title: Determine which surface of hydro power line would be best to prevent ice build up.
Subject: Electricity
Subcategory: Electrical Power Technology
Grade level: Elementary School - Grades 4-6
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Low
Awards: 1st Place, Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair ($100)
Affiliation: Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair
Year: 2014
Materials: Eight wires with four different surfaces: smooth, twisted, coiled, and ridged; hydrophobic spray, weight scale, digital tempurature reader, hair dryer
Concepts: Hydrophobicity
Description: This project is implementable in cold areas. Wires with different surface type were tested: smooth rubber, twisted rubber, coiled metal, and ridged plastic. Hydrophobic spray was applied to each of the wires and sprayed with water to emulate rain. After a while outside the frozen wires were brought inside. Using a hair dryer to speed up the melting process, the weight of the melted water is measured and compared for the different wires.
Link: http://www.virtualsciencefair.org/2014/mutl14m
Short Background

Power Lines and Hydrophobicity

The freezing rain from an ice storm covers everything with heavy, smooth glaze ice. In addition to hazardous driving or walking conditions, branches or even whole trees may break from the weight of ice. Falling branches can block roads, tear down power and telephone lines, and cause other damage. Even without falling trees and tree branches, the weight of the ice itself can easily snap power lines and also break and bring down power/utility poles; even electricity pylons with steel frames. This can leave people without power for anywhere from several days to a month. According to most meteorologists, just one quarter of an inch of ice accumulation can add about 500 pounds (230 kg) of weight per line span. Damage from ice storms is easily capable of shutting down entire metropolitan areas.

Hydrophobicity is the physical property of a molecule (known as a hydrophobe) that is repelled from a mass of water.

Examples of hydrophobic molecules include the alkanes, oils, fats, and greasy substances in general. Hydrophobic materials are used for oil removal from water, the management of oil spills, and chemical separation processes to remove non-polar substances from polar compounds.

A super-hydrophobic coating is a surface layer that repels water.

Superhydrophobic surfaces are highly hydrophobic, i.e., extremely difficult to wet. This is also referred to as the Lotus effect, after the superhydrophobic leaves of the lotus plant.

See also:

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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