Large-scale ion generation for precipitation of atmospheric aerosols

Ma, Shaoxiang; Cheng, He; Li, Jiacheng; Xu, Maoyuan; Liu, Dawei; Ostrikov, Kostya

Artificial rain is explored as a remedy for climate change caused farmland drought and bushfires. Increasing the ion density in the open air is an efficient way to generate charged nuclei from atmospheric aerosols and induce precipitation or eliminate fog. Here we report on the development of a large commercial-installation-scale atmospheric ion generator based on corona plasma discharges, experimental monitoring, and numerical modeling of the parameters and range of the atmospheric ions, as well as the application of the generated ions to produce charged aerosols and induce precipitation at the scale of a large cloud chamber. The coverage area of the ions generated by the large corona discharge installation with the 7.2 km long wire electrode and applied voltage of inline-formula−90 kV is studied under prevailing weather conditions including wind direction and speed. By synergizing over 300 000 localized corona discharge points, we demonstrate a substantial decrease in the decay of ions compared to a single corona discharge point in the open air, leading to large-scale (30 m inline-formula×23 m inline-formula×90 m) ion coverage. Once aerosols combine with the generated ions, charged nuclei are produced. Higher wind speed has led to larger areas covered by the plasma-generated ions. The cloud chamber experiments (relative humidity inline-formula130±10  %) suggest that charged aerosols generated by ions with a density of inline-formula∼104 cminline-formula−3 can accelerate the settlement of moisture by 38 %. These results are promising for the development of large-scale installations for the effective localized control of atmospheric phenomena.

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Ma, Shaoxiang / Cheng, He / Li, Jiacheng / et al: Large-scale ion generation for precipitation of atmospheric aerosols. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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