To feed its freshwater sources, China is currently working on a gigantic project of thousands of chimneys, which would release particles into the atmosphere, to rain over Tibet.
In the Tibetan plateau, China is experimenting with a pharaonic project to create clouds. This is revealed in an article from the South China Morning Post, published on Monday. We discover that scientists trying to bring an additional 10 billion cubic meters of rain water to the region, thanks to 10,000 chimneys located near the mountains.
How it works?
The project is being developed by the engineers of China Aerospace Science and Technology Society (a state agency), in connection with military scientists. The idea is to set up a gigantic network of 10,000 fireplaces, set at 5,000 meters above sea level, at the foot of the Tibetan mountains.
They would burn a solid fuel continuously, the combustion of which produces silver iodide. Worn by the wind, this insoluble compound would go up along the mountains. Dispersed at altitude, it would allow the formation of clouds, rain and snow. Everything would be monitored and guided via real time data collected by 30 meteorological satellites.
A single chimney would be capable of forming a cloud band 5 kilometers long, up to 1,000 meters above the mountain. If the whole project is deployed, it could produce rains on a territory as big as three times of Spain. Enough to supply fresh water to the largest Asian reserve, source of the largest rivers of the continent such as Yangtze, Mekong or Brahmaputra.
Until then, scientists were stuck with a problem: the difficulty of maintaining a permanent combustion, in a territory where oxygen is scarce. Advanced in military research technologies on rockets now allow them to work around the problem.
While “cloud seeding” technologies have been known and practiced for decades by countries such as Russia and the United States, they have remained extremely expensive. The chimney system would solve this problem but it can cost 6600 € per unit, including laying. In comparison, the techniques of seeding by plane represent an expense of several millions.
What the South China Morning Post article does not report is that silver iodide is considered as a toxic pollutant by the Clean Water Act in the United States. In addition, silver nano particles, already widely used in industry areas, are not biodegradable and can have health consequences, as evidenced by laboratory studies conducted by several American universities.
For the moment, 500 fireplaces have been deployed during testing, notably in Tibet and Xinjiang. The total deployment of the project, of unprecedented scale in the world, has not yet received the approval of the Chinese government.
It’s interesting to see how much human can affect the nature and when the nature will reply then how human will survive from it.