US scientists find way to exploit electrical charge of snow

A team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has designed a device capable of generating electricity from falling snow.

Image courtesy of Abdelsalam Ahmed

Described by UCLA scientists as resembling a "sheet of plastic", the product is inexpensive, small, thin and flexible.

The researchers have called the invention a snow TENG, or snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator, created using a 3D printer, with a layer of silicone and an electrode to capture the charge. It can generate a charge through static electricity, since snow is positively charged and silicone is negative.

Maher El-Kady, report co-author and UCLA assistant researcher of chemistry and biochemistry, said: "Snow is already charged, so we thought, why not bring another material with the opposite charge and extract the charge to create electricity?

"While snow likes to give up electrons, the performance of the device depends on the efficiency of the other material at extracting these electrons.

"After testing a large number of materials including aluminium foils and Teflon, we found that silicone produces more charge than any other material."

Top image courtesy of Allexxandar/Dreamstime

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