Effects of skin heat conduction on aircraft icing process

Xiaobin Shen, Yu Zeng, Guiping Lin, Zuodong Mu, Dongsheng Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


During the aircraft icing process caused by super-cooled droplet impingement, the surface temperature and heat flux distributions of the skin would vary due to the solid substrate heat conduction. An unsteady thermodynamic model of the phase transition was established with a time-implicit solution algorithm, in which the solid heat conduction and the water freezing were analyzed simultaneously. The icing process on a rectangular skin segment was numerically simulated, and the variations of skin temperature distribution, thicknesses of ice layer and water film were obtained. Results show that the presented model could predict the icing process more accurately, and is not sensitive to the selection of time step. The latent heat released by water freezing affects the skin temperature, which in turn changes the icing characteristics. The skin temperature distribution would be affected notably by the boundary condition of the inner skin surface, the lateral heat conduction and thermal property of the skin. It was found that the ice accretion rate of the case that the inner surface boundary is in natural convection at ambient temperature is much smaller than that with constant ambient temperature there; due to the skin lateral heat conduction, the outer skin surface temperature increases first and then decreases with uneven distribution, leading to an unsteady ice accretion rate and uneven ice thickness distribution; a smaller heat conductivity would lead to a more uneven temperature distribution and a lower ice accretion rate in most regions, but the maximum ice thickness could be larger than that of higher heat conductivity skin. Therefore, in order to predict the aircraft icing phenomenon more accurately, it is necessary to consider the solid heat conduction and the boundary conditions of the skin substrate, instead of applying a simple boundary condition of adiabatic or a fixed temperature for the outer skin surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1306-1317
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part G: Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Aircraft icing
  • effect of heat conductivity
  • ice accretion rate
  • icing thermodynamic model
  • numerical simulation


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