A fabric-based energy harvesting prototype has been developed by a team of scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU Singapore). It features a stretchy electrode that is screen-printed with an “ink” made from a rubbery material found in general purpose items such as teethers and handlebar grips.
Many attempts have been made to create fabrics or garments that can recover the energy of movement, but a major challenge has been to create something that does not degrade after washing while still maintaining excellent electrical power.
In our study, we demonstrated that our prototype continues to work well after washing and creasing. We believe it could be woven into t-shirts or embedded in the soles of shoes to collect energy from the body’s slightest movements, channeling electricity to mobile devices.
– Lee Pooi See, NTU Senior Scientist and Associate Vice Provost (Graduate Studies)
It is the first perovskite-based hybrid energy device that is stable, flexible, breathable, waterproof and capable of delivering remarkable electrical output performance. It could be embedded in clothing or wearable electronics to power mobile devices in the future.
The fabric’s performance was unaffected by washing, folding, or wrinkling, and it could maintain stable electrical output for up to five months, demonstrating its potential for use as a smart textile and portable power source. .
The energy harvesting technology behind the electricity-generating fabric made by the NTU team transforms even the smallest body movements into power. The prototype fabric produces electricity in two ways: crushed or compressed (piezoelectricity); and when it comes into contact or friction with other materials, such as skin or rubber gloves (triboelectric effect).
Accordingly, these lead-free perovskite/polymer halide nanofiber composites that are stretchable, waterproof, breathable and stable have been designed to utilize both triboelectric and piezoelectric effects to harvest energy.
To build the prototype, the researchers first created a stretchy electrode by screen-printing an “ink” composed of silver and styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene (SEBS), a rubbery substance commonly used in teethers and teethers. handlebar grips, to make it more flexible and waterproof. The result is a fabric prototype that generates 2.34 watts of electricity per square meter, enough to power small electrical devices like LEDs and commercial capacitors.
NTU scientists demonstrated how a hand tapping continuously on a 3cm by 4cm patch of the prototype fabric could light 100 LEDs or charge various capacitors, which are devices that store electrical energy and are found in gadgets such as cell phones.
By attaching their fabric to the arm, leg, hand and elbow, as well as the insoles of shoes, researchers have shown that it can extract energy from a wide range of human movements while n having no influence on human movement.
Despite the increase in battery size and low power consumption, portable gadget power sources still require regular battery replacements. The results reveal that the prototype energy-harvesting fabric can capture energy from human vibrations to potentially improve battery life or perhaps develop self-powered systems.
The NTU team’s body of work examines how energy generated in the environment can be harvested, and our tissue-based energy harvesting prototype expands on this. For example, the team recently developed a form of film that could be put on roofs or walls to capture energy generated by wind or rain falling on them. Researchers are currently studying the possibility of using a single piece of fabric to collect different forms of energy.