Feel the Power, with Power Felt!

Thermoelectric power conversion, the conversion of temperature differences into electricity, is not new, but has been receiving increasing attention. New materials and technologies are propelling this technology forward. Now researchers at Wake Forest University have developed something very practical. They call it Power Felt, a kind of nano material, that can use body heat to generate useful amounts of electricity—the ability to charge a cell phone; and with further refinements, you could see them in toys as well.

Feel the Power, with Power Felt!

Power Felt is composed of tiny carbon nano tubes locked within flexible plastic fibers, made to look like fabric. It creates a charge by using temperature differences, such as room temperature versus body temperature. Actually, anyplace there are small temperature differences, Power Felt fabric will harness them and generate minute amounts of electricity. Think about car seats, the inside lining of jackets, coats, clothing….etc. Can you see applications for the military?

Power Felt in an iPhone

Power Felt in an iPhone

Here comes a big bonus. What’s that you say, no temperature difference….not to worry. Power Felt also has the ability to collect power from mechanical noise, any vibration that’s around it – the motion of the body or the vibration of a car, bus, truck, railroad car can be turned into small amounts of electricity. Think of the interesting possibilities. What about remote sensors powered by this fabric and then having power to transmit data…the ability to monitor critical infrastructure like bridges, buildings, equipment– a limitless ability for on-line, real-time monitoring. What about motion detectors and homeland security applications?

Such technology can change lots of things; and boy would Thomas Edison have loved this!

Editor’s Deep Dive:

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said … “I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent…. “

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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