Photo by aarmono
Clothing that generates electricity whenever you bust a move may sound incredible as it is, but what if you didn’t have to do a lick of work? Scientists at the University of Bolton in the U.K. are developing a fiber that not only absorbs energy from the its wearer’s body movements, but also from surrounding elements such as the wind, rain, and sun.
Photo by Keven Law
Supported by £1 million in funding from the Knowledge Centre for Materials Chemistry, Bolton researchers are working with their counterparts at GK Electronics and Nanchang Hangkong University in China to further develop—and commercialize—its revolutionary material, which is flexible enough to be woven into clothing.
Most piezoelectric materials are too rigid to be useful in clothing, but the Bolton team has found a way around that.
Although piezoelectric materials, which convert kinetic stress to power, can be found in movement-powered watches, highways, and dance floors, most of them are too rigid to be useful in garments. The Bolton team claims to have found a way around that, creating a durable yet malleable material that generates electricity from the environment.
Photo by Lars Plougmann
“Our hybrid photovoltaic-piezoelectric material has so much potential that it can be woven into everything, including laptop and mobile phone cases,” says Elias Siores, the university’s director of research. “In its casing, the appliance could be charging, as it is handled or placed near sunlight. At home, a tree with needle-like fibers, like a pine tree, could be converting sun, wind, and rain into electrical energy which is stored ready for charging.”
Needles from a pine tree could convert movement from the wind and rain into electricity.
Clothing that powers our phones and iPods? If the Bolton and Chinese teams are successful, this material could transform the fashion world.