Snow might become a source of electricity in the future. Researchers from UCLA designed a new device that can use snow to produce electricity. This is the first device of this type and it also works as a weather station. It is able to calculate the volume, the speed of wind and precipitation, and it can also calculate its direction.
In the future, the device, known as Snow TENG, might be useful for remote Arctic areas where access to electricity is challenging or during winter in other regions to reduce costs of standard electricity.
“In this work, we used a 3D printing technique for the precise design and deposition of the electrode and triboelectric layer, leading to flexible, stretchable and metal-free triboelectric generators. Based on the single electrode mode, the device can generate an instantaneous output power density as high as 0.2 mW/m2, an open circuit voltage up to 8 V, and a current density of 40 μA/m2,” explains the paper.
Snow TENG is the new device that can produce electricity from snow
The device is known as snow TENG (snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator) and it is a small device. The snow TENG creates static electricity with the help of snow. Snow gives up electrons when it is positively charged. Therefore, researchers used a negatively charged material for it.
“After testing a large number of materials, including aluminum foils and Teflon, we found that silicone produces more charge than any other material,” explained co-author Maher El-Kady, who is a UCLA assistant researcher of chemistry and biochemistry.
This device could be a revolutionary one. At the moment around 30 percent of the surface of our planet is covered in snow. Other electricity solutions such as solar panels wouldn’t work there. Using the snow TENG in these areas could lead to a great source of clean energy. More than that, the device could be installed in other areas as well. While solar panels do a great job during summer, this device can be used during winter.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca