What if you could wear clothing that would create energy? That’s what researchers at Chalmers University of Technology are working on, clothing that generates energy from your body motion.
|Fabric Turns Kinetic Energy into Electricity|
Working up a sweat from carrying a heavy load? That is when the textile works at its best. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have developed a fabric that converts kinetic energy into electric power, in cooperation with the Swedish School of Textiles in Borås and the research institute Swerea IVF. The greater the load applied to the textile and the wetter it becomes, the more electricity it generates. The results are now published in the Nature Partner journal Flexible Electronics.
Chalmers researchers Anja Lund and Christian Müller have developed a woven fabric that generates electricity when it is stretched or exposed to pressure. The fabric can currently generate enough power to light an LED, send wireless signals, or drive small electric units such as a pocket calculator or a digital watch.
The technology is based on the piezoelectric effect, which results in the generation of electricity from deformation of a piezoelectric material, such as when it is stretched. In the study, the researchers created a textile by weaving a piezoelectric yarn together with an electrically conducting yarn, which is required to transport the generated electric current.
“The textile is flexible and soft and becomes even more efficient when moist or wet,” Lund says. “To demonstrate the results from our research we use a piece of the textile in the shoulder strap of a bag. The heavier the weight packed in the bag and the more of the bag that consists of our fabric, the more electric power we obtain. When our bag is loaded with 3 kilos of books, we produce a continuous output of 4 microwatts. That’s enough to intermittently light an LED. By making an entire bag from our textile, we could get enough energy to transmit wireless signals.”