One American start-up has launched a crowd-funding campaign to build an electronic system that would induce rain on request in a drought-stricken Californian region.
Aiming to raise $1m, Florida-based Rain on Request proposes technology that relies on using an electric field to ionise the local atmosphere with the aim of triggering rainfall.
The company said the technology, developed by an Israeli scientist, could help prevent environmental disasters, reduce famine and improve the economic situation in many of the world’s countries struggling with lack of fresh water resources.
"California is in the midst of a severe drought and Rain on Request's ionisation technology supersedes desalination and reverse osmosis technology," said Larry Gitman, campaign manager for Rain on Request, on the company’s Indiegogo page.
"Our technology, which diverts a portion of the 79 per cent of evaporated water that falls back in the ocean, represents an incredible proposition that could alleviate the water crisis in California and beyond."
Ionisation triggers formation of so-called nucleation centres, the building blocks for cloud formation and a prerequisite for rainfall.
The company claims that its ionisation stations can induce rainfall within a 15-mile radius, increasing precipitation levels by 50 to 400 per cent.
The company believes the technology doesn't have adverse side effects on the environment as it doesn’t use any chemical substances, unlike other more commonly used rain inducing techniques such as cloud-seeding.
Also, cloud-seeding techniques involve injecting chemicals such as silver iodide, potassium iodide or dry ice into already existing clouds to trigger rain, but the electrical ionisation system doesn't require pre-existing clouds to make rain as it can create them itself.
“Once the system is set up, it takes 72 hours to initiate rainfall to produce an increase of 50 to 400 per cent of rainfall in the location, relative to the mean seasonal rate,” the company says. “Rain generated by the system will cover an area of approximately 15 miles radius of the ionisation station. When rainfall reaches the desired level, it takes approximately one hour to shut off the system.”
Rain on Request plans to use the $1m raised in the campaign to install a pilot system in Santa Barbara with a completion date set for six months after the campaign’s end.
The company said it is negotiating with engineering schools to supervise the project and help ensure its safety.