Scientists Make Cloud Disappear

Scientists have uncovered a powder that absorbs moisture and have shown promise at absorbing storm clouds.

New Scientist: In their latest experiment, large military aircraft scattered the powder through a storm cloud 1600 metres long and over 4000 metres deep. It took about 4000 kilograms of powder to soak up the moisture from the cloud, making it virtually disappear. “I had calls from a weather tower and even from Channel 5 news in Miami, saying that they had seen the cloud literally disappear off the radar screen. They confirmed that there had been a tall build-up and the next moment it was gone,” Cordani says.

Each grain of the powder, called Dyn-O-Gel, is capable of absorbing 2000 times its weight in moisture, condensation and rain. Each molecule of powder can hold several molecules of water. The wet powder becomes a gel.

The shape of the grains is also crucial for maximum absorption of moisture. “If you were to look at a grain under a microscope, it would look rather like a cornflake,” says Cordani. “This means that they flutter back and forth like a snowflake as they pass through the cloud, taking up as much moisture as possible. The first polymer we made just went straight down through the cloud,” he says.

Although a large segment of New Orleans was flooded during Katrina and Rita, we shouldn’t blame it on the storm. Storms are beneficial at filling aquifers and making sure that millions of people thousands of miles away have adequate water to drink and for crops. Stopping storms isn’t the problem.