The need to stay connected is rising day by day. And to do so one needs constant or at least continual power supply on their smart phone and other electronic devices. This necessity led to the invention of smart clothes, which can help source power for running small electronic gadgets, while one is on the move. Until now this technology was used by defense personnel, hitch-hikers, and mountaineers. But with rising demand of having continuous power supply, this technology will be soon available to the masses.
Clothes and smart phones are two things that, an individual in any part of the world carries every single day. What better if clothes can be turned into power generators? Many researchers and textile designers are working to live up to this Eureka moment, and implement different means to generate power. Due to this, today we have more than one path breaking technology, which can help make this incredible concept, a possible reality.
One way of developing this idea is by harvesting mechanical energy of an individual. There are two ways in which energy can be scavenged from human body: one is Kinetic and the other is Thermal. Kinetic energy sources power derived from various activities like breathing, walking, running, and all kinds of physical movements. The mechanical energy is converted into electric energy with the help of piezoelectric materials. These are an efficient way to capture vibration energy. They are either made of ceramics or polymers. The concept of using piezoelectric is already being used in walkways, where the energy from footsteps of people, can be harvested for generating power. Maximum energy generated by an average human body of 67 watts, can be derived from human footsteps.
Thermal energy derives power from body heat that can generate 2-4-4.8 watts of energy. Human bodies release heat into the atmosphere even through different non-physical activities for example when food is getting digested. Thermoelectric technology captures this wasted energy to create power. Thermal sensors are used to generate power from a temperature difference.
Besides this, the much talked about nanotechnology also is used to design clothes that source power. Fibres used in making a cloth are covered with micro fibres of zinc oxide wires. These also work on the mechanical movements of a wearer to generate power. These nano fibres are woven into curtains and tents to use wind and sound vibrations, to convert into electric energy.