A new nanogenerator could harvest energy directly from snow, helping solar panels deal with wintry conditions Snowy places aren’t ideal for harvesting solar energy – panels can’t do much if they’re buried under blankets of snow, of course. Now a team from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has developed a new device that can produce electricity from snow itself. The team calls the new device a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator, or Snow TENG. As the name suggests it works off the triboelectric effect, meaning it uses static electricity to generate a charge through the exchange of electrons. These kinds of devices have been used to make generators that pull energy from body movements , touchscreens , and even footsteps on floors . Snow is positively charged, so rubbing it against a material with the opposite charge allows energy to be drawn out of it. After a comprehensive series of testing, the team settled on silicone as the most effective material. The problem is that the Snow TENG produces a pretty tiny amount of electricity in its current form – it has a power density of 0.2 mW per square meter. That means you won’t really be hooking that […]

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