Researchers Figured Out How to Harvest Electricity From Snow
Snow TENG was tested in wearables, could coat entire buildings
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Since the 1960s, it’s been understood that snow is positive. No, not like winter-wonderland positive, but positively charged.
Now, half a century later, researchers at UCLA invented a way to turn that phenomenon into useable energy. The technology is called Snow TENG (or snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator), and it’s “a small silicone sensor-generator that can harvest electricity directly from snow,” writes Fast Company.
“We know snow is willing to give up electrons, [so] we thought why not bring another material with the opposite charge to extract these electrons to create electricity,” Maher El-Kady, assistant researcher at UCLA, told the magazine.
The material that worked best was silicone. In tests, the team 3D printed it on top of a plastic electrode, “which could capture the static electricity harvested by the silicone.” But they say it could be turned into a waterproof spray, which could then be applied to all manner of objects. Solar panels came to mind first, as the spray could make them useful during all four seasons. El-Kady also envisions painting it straight onto buildings.
For now, Snow TENG’s output is minimal, but it’s only in the “proof of concept” phase. Once it’s optimized, El-Kady believes it “could produce solar-level power in just a year or two,” according to Fast Company.
Our two cents? Partner with researchers at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
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