Silicone-Based Device Generates Renewable Electricity from Snow
A research team at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is working on a device that would generate electricity from snow.
The snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator (snow TENG) would produce power by picking up on the static electricity contained in the average snowfall, Inhabitat reports, citing lead scientist Richard Kaner.
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“Static electricity happens when a material that likes to give up electrons comes into contact with a material that captures them. Snow naturally carries a positive charge and gives electrons away freely, making it the perfect material to generate power,” the publication explains.
“The snow TENG is made out of silicone, which has a negative charge and actively captures positive electrons. Once the material gains positive electrons, the device gathers those charges and turns them into electricity.”
In addition to producing renewable power, the device can calculate average snowfalls, measure wind speed and direction, and track performance in winter sports, Inhabitat notes. “With further development, it is possible that the snow TENG will lead to other athletic monitoring devices that are completely self-powered.”
Kaner and his team aren’t saying whether the snow TENG will ever be available to the wider public—but once the idea gets out, it might pick up its own momentum. “They produced the prototype using a 3D printer, an electrode, and some silicone, making it one of the cheapest renewable energy devices on the market.”