Power Felt: the fabric that recharges

What am I wearing today? I look in the closet, maybe I put that jacket on so I recharge my smartphone too. It is not a dream, it will soon be reality with Power Felt, a fabric capable of generating energy to power small portable devices.

It will soon be possible to recharge our portable devices with what we wear. It will be possible thanks to Power Felt. It is a kind of hyper-technological fabric that uses the temperature difference between the body and the surrounding environment to generate electric current.

How does it work Power Felt?
This material creates an electrical discharge upon contact with parts of the human body (hot) and the surrounding environment (cold) by exploiting a temperature difference: the thermal gradient. In the case of the jacket, the current is produced by the difference between the external temperature and that of the human body.

Developed by the researchers of the Wake Forets University Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, the device consists of microscopiccarbon nanotubescontained within a flexible plastic fiber and assembled in a similar way to a fabric. It is sufficient to touch this material with a finger to generate a measurable current. This material feels like a real felt, differently from other materials produced with bismuth tellide.

Thermoelectric energy has so far been little used.
Without doubt the current ones thermoelectric devices which have been made with bismuth telluride have greater efficiency, but costs can reach up to $ 1,000 per kilogram for the application. With the Power Felt instead, the costs would be around one euro for the production of a faceplate for mobile phones.

Power Felt it could find application in many sectors, where energy would otherwise be wasted in the form of heat. For example you could capture the wasted energy of a machine to improve the fuel consumption, the power of the radio, the air conditioning system or the navigation system.

Currently, the 72 overlapping layers of nanotubes in the fabric they have a yield of about 140 nanowatts of power and the team is evaluating different ways to add more layers but trying to make them even thinner so as to optimize their structure and increase their power. The low costs and the incredible performances of the Power Felt promise a new way to save in a green way.

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