Power Felt utilizes body heat to help users recharge cellphones

Human body or anything that ejects warmth for its functioning really wastes a big amount of energy in form of heat. Can this dissipating energy be harvested and used to run an electric device? A team of Wake Forest University scientists have done a good job in this regard. They have developed a thermoelectric device, called the Power Felt, to gather power from heat, whether it originates from human body, roof tiles or even a wound wrap.

Power Felt
Power Felt

To generate a charge, the Power Felt utilizes temperature differences between the body and outer area. In other words, if the device is put to generate power from human body heat, it creates the charge from the difference between the temperature of the body and the temperature of the room. The fabric-like device is made locking up tiny carbon nanotubes in flexible plastic fibers. Well, this textile device can be designed to use inside a cloth or with anything that emits heat.

According to Corey Hewitt, a graduate student of the Wake Forest, thermoelectrics has been an underdeveloped technology due to its high cost. Scientists often refrained from harnessing thermoelectrics as it would cost heftily. Moreover, the energy the technology can generate is meager in amount. Even the Power Felt that has 72 stacked layers of nanotubes produces only 140 nano watts, which can do nothing to charge an iPhone. Gizmodo notes that 140 nano watts is only a millionth of energy an idle iPhone requires.

But, the early restraints won’t disgruntle the researchers at the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials. They are working further to enhance the thermoelectric material to produce more power. The scientists think covetously that the material can generate enough power to charge a smartphone, music player or medial equipment. The researchers are on way to enrich the material with more nanotube layers as well as to make it even slimmer and efficient.

Thermoelectric technology is already in use in CPU coolers, car seats and mobile refrigerators. In these applications, the technology is used not to produce electricity, but to eliminate heat and cool up the devices. Here, thermoelectric technology makes use of a more efficient compound, named bismuth telluride, which costs $1,000 per km. So the researchers think they can commercialize a thermoelectric cell phone cover for just $1.

The fabric swatch can reproduce the heat emerging from a cell phone to power to recharge the device itself. Doesn’t it sound great? Now let us see what David Carroll, director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, says of the groundbreaking invention.

Imagine it in an emergency kit, wrapped around a flashlight, powering a weather radio, charging a prepaid cell phone. Literally, just by sitting on your phone, Power Felt could provide relief during power outages or accidents.

Via: ScienceDaily

© 2012, Gizmowatch. Some rights reserved.