LOS ANGELES, Apr 16 (PTI)
The device can work in remote areas because it provides its own power and does not need batteries
SCIENTISTS have designed a first-of-its-kind 3D-printed device that can produce electricity from falling snow.The device designed by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the US is inexpensive, small, thin and flexible like a sheet of plastic. “The device can work in remote areas because it provides its own power and does not need batteries,” said UCLA’s Richard Kaner, senior author of the research published in the journal ‘Nano Energy.’
“It’s a very clever device — a weather station that can tell you how much snow is falling, the direction the snow is falling, and the direction and speed of the wind,” Kaner said in a statement. The device called snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator, or snow TENG, generates charge through static electricity, produces energy from the exchange of electrons. “Static electricity occurs from the interaction of one material that captures electrons and another that gives up electrons,” said Kaner. “You separate the charges and create electricity out of essentially nothing,” he said. Snow is positively charged and gives up electrons.
Silicone — a synthetic rubber-like material that is composed of silicon atoms and oxygen atoms, combined with carbon, hydrogen and other elements — is negatively charged. When falling snow contacts the surface of silicone, it produces a charge that the device captures, creating electricity. “Snow is already charged, so we thought, why not bring another material with the opposite charge and extract the charge to create electricity” said Maher El-Kady, a UCLA postdoctoral researcher.
“While snow likes to give up electrons, the performance of the device depends on the efficiency of the other material at extracting these electrons,”