Masdar professor files US patent for cloud seeding technology

Dr Linda Zou is investigating the possibility of increasing rainfall using electron microscopy

One of awardees of the first cycle of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science has filed a provisional patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a new application of nanotechnology to cloud seeding techniques.

Dr Linda Zou, Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, is investigating the possibility of increasing rainfall through engineering unique nanostructured properties of cloud seeding materials using electron microscopy.

Dr Zou works closely with Dr Mustapha Jouiad, Principal Research Scientist and Microscopy Facility Manager, Masdar Institute and Dr Mladjen Curic, Professor at the Institute of Metrology at the University of Belgrade.

Together, their ground-breaking project has led to innovative sub-micron hygroscopic cloud seeding materials being designed and fabricated, a statement said.

The team’s experiments have involved coating a pure salt crystal with a thin coating of titanium dioxide in order to enhance the condensation process, it added.

Experimental results obtained so far suggest that this process improves the salt’s condensation efficiency to the extent that the crystals adsorb enough water vapor to form droplets that could fall as rain.

The next steps in the project will involve further nanotechnology development in parallel with evaluation in a cloud chamber and numerical modeling to test the effectiveness of the process.

Alya Al Mazroui, manager of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, said: “The success of Dr Zou’s team’s innovative project demonstrates that the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science is already bearing fruit in terms of generating new knowledge. We are continuing our work to build up the Program as a focal point for productive scientific and technological exchange between some of the world’s leading experts in this field.”  

The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science offers a grant of $5 million over a three-year period, to be shared by up to five winning research proposals, selected by a two-stage merit review decision process.

Launched by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs of the UAE and overseen by the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology, the program is an initiative to stimulate rain enhancement research and accelerate water security through international cooperation in scientific research and development.

In addition to Dr Zou’s team, researchers from Japan and Germany emerged as awardees of the grant during the inaugural cycle.

Last month, three further research projects from the US, UK and Finland were selected for the second cycle of funding.

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