?Using nanotechnology to accelerate water droplet formation on a typical cloud seeding material has never been researched before. It is a new approach that could revolutionize the development of cloud seeding materials and make them significantly more efficient and effective,? said Dr. Linda Zou, Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Masdar Institute and the principal investigator of the research project.� Dr. Zou is considered to be the first scientist in the world to explore the use of nanotechnology to enhance a cloud seeding material?s ability to produce rain.
Dr. Zou hopes, once commercially developed, the technology can potentially increase rainfall between 10 to 30 percent, reducing the country?s heavy reliance on freshwater produced by energy-intensive seawater desalination.
Conventional cloud seeding materials are small particles such as pure salt crystals, dry ice and silver iodide. These tiny particles, which are a few microns (one-thousandth of a millimeter) in size, act as the core around which water condenses in the clouds, stimulating water droplet growth. Once the air in the cloud reaches a certain level of saturation, it can no longer hold in that moisture, and rain falls. Cloud seeding essentially mimics what naturally occurs in clouds, but enhances the process by adding particles that can stimulate and accelerate the condensation process.
Dr. Zou and her collaborators explored ways to improve the process of condensation on a pure salt crystal by layering it with a thin coating of titanium dioxide. They found the titanium dioxide coating improved the salt?s ability to absorb and condense water vapour over 100 times compared to a pure salt crystal. Such an increase in condensation efficiency could improve a cloud?s ability to produce more precipitation, making rain enhancement operations more efficient and effective. The research will now move to the next stage of simulated cloud and field testing.
Dr. Deon E. Terblanche, Director, Atmospheric Research and Environment Branch at World Meteorological Organization said development of new seeding materials, taking advantage of nanotechnology, holds exciting possibilities.
Masdar Institute has now filed an application to patent their innovation, ahead of its commercialisation.
Source: Masdar Institute
Image Credit: Masdar Institute