EasyJet is claiming a global first today with news that it is trialling a nano technology-based aircraft coating normally used by the US military.
The idea is to test the technology on eight of its aircraft over the next 12 months to see if the polymer can help reduce the build up of minute levels of debris on the fuselage and other areas, reducing drag levels and hopefully make the fleet more fuel efficient.
The European low cost carrier reckons an application of the polymer - adding just 4 ounces to the overall weight of the body - could reduce fuel consumption on the coated aircraft by 1% to 2%.
The nano polymer is already used widely by the the US Air Force, but EasyJet's decision is being touted as the first time a commercial airline has decided to deploy such a coating.
EasyJet says the coating is "less than a micron thick" - around a one millionth of a metre.
The nano coating:
"The nano technology is a polymer that enables this high performance solution to cross link and bond with the surface materials to which it is being applied. It contains hard, durable acrylic elements and creates a perfectly smooth finish, filling the 'pores' of a surface with a unique resin. This forms a barrier to prevent penetration by contaminants of the 'hills and valleys' of a surface our eyes cannot see."
Applying the coating:
"In the preparation solution a dicarboxylic acid a “cationic” (positive) polarizing wash is used to purge the pores of the surfaces to be treated and electrically charge the surface with a positive polarity. The pores are cleansed and charged and are ready to receive the unique 'anionic' or negatively charged molecules of the emulsion. These molecules are pulled into the pores magnetically and held there, while all of the protective chemicals have cross-linked, bonded and cured, locking the coating into the paint and preventing drifting, fading or degradation of the paint until renewal."