Sensor for detection of ice accumulation and liquid water content in wet snow


Project ID# D2019-13



Liquid water content (LWC) of snow is the ratio of the weight of water contained to the total weight of the wet snow. LWC of snow influences its density, adhesion to surfaces, and snow cohesiveness which determines its stability, shedding, and melting runoff.  Ice build-up can fall from structures, such as bridges, causing hazards and lane closures. This sensor has two main functionalities = the detection of the state of accumulated frozen water on a given surface, whether it is ice, snow or frost and measurement of LWC of wet snow.  LWC sensors can assist infrastructure operators in determining the most appropriate action during icing events. Even in warm climates, a LWC sensor on an air conditioning evaporator coil can prevent failure from freezing by detecting the frost formation. Current methods of LWC detection are often only applicable to snow pack and cause compression in the snow where the sensor is inserted. LWC instruments available today are bulky and cannot be mounted onto the surface of interest. Additionally, a thick layer of snow (at least 10 cm) is required to produce accurate measurements. Therefore, there is a need for a small, accurate, and inexpensive LWC sensor that can be mounted to a surface.


Invention Description

Researchers at the University of Toledo have developed a sensor that uses temperature and electrical resistance to perform LWC measurements. Indoor and outdoor experiments have been conducted and the technology is at technology readiness level of 8.



-       Infrastructure owners and operators: bridges, buildings

-       Utility services: telecommunication towers, wind turbines, power line maintenance, solar panels

-       Heat pumps in electric cars, autonomous vehicles

-       In conjunction with de/anti-icing technologies



-       Lightweight, flexible, and compact (<2mm thick)

-       Non-destructive measurement; does not inherently change the LWC of a sample

-       Inexpensive components

-       Mounts on the surface of interest

-       Real-time readings, automatic

-       Ability to do measurement in a thin layer of snow (2 mm)


IP Status:       Patent Pending

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Katherine Pollard
Licensing Associate
The University of Toledo
Douglas Nims
Ahmed Abdelaal
Hossein Sojoudi
Mehdi Sarayloo
Liquid water content
Wet snow