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Researchers May Have Figured Out How to Get Your Clothes to Charge Your Electronics

03 December 2015

Researchers from Brunel University in London have just solved two of the major challenges that have been keeping ordinary items of clothing from being transformed into power sources that can charge your electronics.

While it has been possible to create supercapacitor thread that can be turned into cloth, until now scientists haven’t been able to get that kind of cloth to provide enough power to charge anything.

A schematic of the new energy-storing thread. (Source: Brunel University)A schematic of the new energy-storing thread. (Source: Brunel University)

Professors DavidHarrison and JohnFyson, Dr.YanmengXu, Dr. Fulian Qiu and Ruirong Zhang of Brunel’s Department of Design have patented breakthrough that make it possible for thread to store and supplying enough power for common devices.

“Supercapacitors are already ubiquitous as back-up power in phones, PCs and tablets.

“They store energy without a chemical reaction so can be charged and discharged almost indefinitely. But in thread form they have never before been able to break the 1V barrier,” says Harrison.

The team demonstrated that it can produce a multi-layered structure with two sequential capacitive layers capable of producing up to 2V, which is important since the voltage of common batteries is 1.5V.

“We also wanted to address mass production issues so developed a process to semi-automatically coat stainless steel wire the thickness of a human hair with eight separate layers,” says Harrison.

The work at Brunel is part of the EU-sponsored Powerweave program. Read the team’s paper here.

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