Chemical Rainmakers

Can We Create Rain With Chemicals?


“Morning Rainstorm Over Vesuvius and Pompeii” by Trey Ratcliff is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

By: Yusuf Lashin, Journalist

China wants to make 10 billion tons of rainfall on the Tibetan Plateau by building thousands of chemical furnaces. China’s Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation plans to make rain by burning a chemical fuel that will release silver iodide into the air.

The silver iodide in the air will cause the water vapor to condense and form clouds that will collect rain. Burners have already been set up all over Tibet. A single burner could produce enough clouds to cover a few kilometers. These burners encourage vapor coming off the Indian Ocean to produce rain. The rainmakers will be connected to a computer system to time the release of the chemicals with high cloud coverage periods.

This works because the burners burn a chemical fuel to produce smoke with silver iodide in it. When the silver iodide rises it mixes with clouds and crystallizes this sets off a reaction that causes precipitation.

This could be a good or bad thing that will help with droughts and a shortage of water but this could also make a shortage of water in other areas where rain naturally occurs by making those clouds rain earlier than they’re supposed to or not where they would normally rain and off-balance the water cycle.

This relates to engineering because they had a problem and they came up with a creative solution to the problem. They will most likely have to change and modify these for the best outcome.