How a piece of fabric costing $1 could charge the phone in your pocket
Fascinating development from researchers working on nanotechnology at a university in Virginia who have created a fabric that could allow you to charge your mobile phone whilst its in your pocket for as little as $1.
The nanotechnology, which has been dubbed ‘Power Felft, is a fabric that feeds off of the heat in your body and turns that into electricity.
It could also charge via the heat of the sun. So simply leaving your phone in the sunlight could recharge your mobile phone.
Power Felt has been developed by a team of researchers at the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake University in Salem, North Carolina.
Power Felt is comprised of tiny carbon nanotubes locked up in flexible plastic fibers and made to feel like fabric. It uses temperature differences, such as room temperature versus body temperature – to create an electrical charge.
Graduate student Corey Hewitt who worked on the project, said: “We waste a lot of energy in the form of heat. For example, recapturing a car’s energy waste could help improve fuel mileage and power the radio, air conditioning or navigation system. Generally thermoelectrics are an underdeveloped technology for harvesting energy, yet there is so much opportunity.”
The university, which is currently in talks with investors to produce Power Felt commercially, has outlined a number of uses for Power Felt including lining car seats to boost battery power and collecting heat under roof tiles to lower gas or electric bills.
David Carroll, director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials and head of the team leading this research, said “Literally, just by sitting on your phone, Power Felt could provide relief during power outages or accidents.”
Until now cost has prevented thermoelectrics from being used more widely in consumer products as it can cost as much as $1,000 per kilogram.
However, like silicon the researchers say demand could drastically lower the price to as little as $1 for a cover for a mobile phone.
The team are currently looking at ways to add more nanotube layers and make Power Felt even thinner to boost the power output.
The research appears in the current issue of Nano Letters, a leading journal in nanotechnology.