Scientists have created a device capable of generating electricity from snow and can operate in remote areas because it provides its own energy, a publication by Nano Energy magazine said today.
The nanogenerator, developed by the University of California at Los Angeles, does not need a battery, is small, thin, flexible like a plastic sheet and was made with a low cost.
Called a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator, it is also a weather station that can tell you how much snow and in what direction it is falling and the direction and speed of the wind, says lead author Richard Kaner.
According to the expert, the device generates charge through static electricity -from the interaction of a material (silicon) that captures electrons with another that abandons them- and produces energy from the exchange between these particles.
The snow is positively charged and leaves the electrons while the silicone -composed of silicon and oxygen atoms combined with carbon, hydrogen and other elements- is negatively energized.
Hence, when the snow comes into contact with the surface of the silicone, a charge is produced that is captured by the device and creates electricity, Kaner said.
The specialists point out that as the accumulation of snow reduces the amount of sunlight, limits the output power of the panels and makes them less effective, the new device could be integrated into the solar panels to provide a continuous power source when it snows.
The research team used 3D printing to design the device that can be used to monitor winter sports or to send signals that indicate if a person is moving.