Harvesting green energy from white snowS. Himmelstein | May 03, 2019
Falling snow is a nuisance to travellers, but a boon to skiers. Now it is renewable power production resource. An international research team has demonstrated the concept of snow-triboelectrification with a snow-based energy harvester.
The compact, low-cost triboelectric generator (TENG) generates power from the static electricity produced as positively-charged snow comes into contact with negatively-charged silicone. The device, composed of a layer of silicone and a charge-capturing electrode, is 3D printed and was shown to deliver a power density of 0.2 mW/m2 and an open circuit voltage up to 8 V.
The snow-TENG also operates as a self-powered sensor to monitor snowfall rate, accumulation depth, wind direction and speed in snowy or icy environments. The system can serve as a wearable power source and biomechanical sensor to detect human body motions, which may prove useful for snow-related sports.
The researchers envision deployment of the battery-less system in remote areas and its incorporation into solar panels to enable continued power generation when covered with snow. Scientists from University of Toronto, McMaster University (Canada), University of Connecticut, Tanta University (Egypt), University of California Los Angeles and National University of Ireland contributed to this development.