Scientists have developed a first-time device that generates electricity from nothing but the natural phenomenon of snowfall.
Based on the principles of the triboelectric effect that generates electrical charge after two materials The researchers' new technology exploits the fact that snow particles carry a positive electrical charge.
That's why snowflakes give up electrons, provided they have the ability to interact with the right, negatively charged substance.
"Snow is already charged, so we thought, why not bring another material with the opposite charge withdraw the charge to generate electricity?" Explains the chemist Maher El-Kady of UCLA and also CTO of a research company the name Nanotech Energy.
While no one has used snow that way before, other researchers have done similar things to other substances.
The team's device is a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator ̵
In recent years, scientists have built other triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) that generate electricity from raindrops, physical movement and auto tire friction and even walking on planks.
In all these approaches – including the new Snow TENG – the principle is the same, although the methods differ slightly depending on the type of movement and materials used. [19659002"Staticelectricityarisesfromtheinteractionofamaterialthattrapstheelectronsandreleasestheelectron"saysRichardKChemikerandmaterialsscientistoftheUCLAaner
"They separate the charges and generate essentially nothing current."
With the Snow TENG, after designing the device and using 3D printing to make the electrode, they measured their electrical performance with a variety of triboelectric materials as a functional layer – not all of them were equal.
"Although snow likes to emit electrons, the performance of the device depends on the efficiency of the other material in extracting these electrons," says El-Kady.
"After testing a large number of materials, including aluminum foil and Teflon, we found that silicone generates more charge than any other material."
With silicon as the triboelectric layer of the device, electrical charge can be generated through a variety of contact mechanisms, including snow falling directly on or sliding against the silicon layer
In others Settings tested the team's silicone coating, which came into contact with snow while attached to a bicycle wheel, and also under the sole of a hiking boot.
Although the amount of electricity generated in the test experiments was not very large, the researchers say it is easy to integrate TENG snow into solar panels for the future. As a result, when snow uses its solar energy efficiency, it might otherwise generate or diminish electricity.
With around 46 million square kilometers of surface snowing every year, there is a huge opportunity to expand the technology that could one day be used to make things like energy-portable technology or integrated into biomechanical tracking sensors.
Perhaps more likely in the near future, the researchers say the TENG snow might find a home in remote weather stations installed in snowy regions where they could measure snowfall rate and snow depth, as well as other meteorological features such as Reading the wind direction and the speed.
The results are reported in Nano Energy .