(ORDO NEWS) — Studying the electrostatic forces between water droplets could help manage rain in the future, making it fall where it needs to be.
Rain can be induced using electric fields, according to new research
In a new study published in the journal Proceedings on the Royal Society A, scientists at the University of Reading in the UK found that raindrop formation can be stimulated by charging clouds with electricity.
Clouds contain a lot of water vapor, but it only rains when it condenses into larger droplets. To form droplets heavy enough to make it rain, the aerosols need enough opposite charge to bond with each other, positive to negative, and vice versa.
However, according to the study, even droplets that carry the same polarity of charge will be attracted to each other if the strength of the charge is different.
As the scientists write, the charges will “migrate” from one to the other, “resulting in an attractive force that can prevail if the droplets are close together.” The researchers also argue that the amount of charge on the droplet can change due to the capture of ions powered by nearby electric fields.
The scientists concluded that the addition of electrostatic fields increases the rate of collision and sticking of droplets by about 5%. It turns out that this is quite enough to make the rain fall where it is needed.
The study has been funded by one of the driest regions on the planet, the United Arab Emirates, since 2017. Scientists have already conducted experiments using drones to deliver electric fields to clouds. The authors believe that 10-meter-tall rain towers could provide a more permanent way to electrify clouds.
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