Based upon the triboelectric effect (suggesting the generation of electrical charge when two material interact with one and another), scientists have been able to produce a device which generates electricity out of snowfall.
The development of the device was based upon the fact that snowflakes contain a positive electrical charge and tend to give away electrons when coming into contact with specific negatively charged particles. The UCLA chemist Maher El-Kady, who is also the CTO of Nanotech Energy (Research Company) explained that “Snow is already charged, so we thought, why not bring another material with the opposite charge and extract the charge to create electricity?”
However, the thought of snow to be used in this context might not have crossed the minds of a lot of people, but based upon the same phenomenon, similar experiments were carried out by other researchers. These included generation of electricity by using raindrops, physical movement, the friction of the car tires, and including the friction created while walking on floorboards. As you can interpret that all of these inventions include the usage of the triboelectric effect phenomenon.
This snowfall based device uses the triboelectric Nanogenerator (TENGs), which is a substance which depends upon the triboelectric effect as well as the electrostatic induction in order to generate electricity. Exploiting the phenomenon of Static electricity, which generates at the interaction between two materials which capture and release electrons, when these materials are separated, the charges separate and create electricity out of this act.
A 3D printer was used to create the electrodes, the electrical output of the device was calculated by putting it in experiments with various triboelectric materials from which silicone was found to produce the greatest amount of charges. The snow TENG can be put into solar panels in the near future by making it available for the general public.