Check It Out, My Clothes Are Electric. No, Seriously

Someday you may be able to use your crotch or armpits to recharge that cellphone. Heck, maybe there won’t even be a battery, just a capacitor which gets its juice from Power Felt, a fabric that converts body heat to electricity.

Now we mention the nether-regions because it’s funny, but also because it makes the most sense. Researchers have developed a fabric containing carbon nanotubes used in a way that generates electricity based on a temperature differential. We figure the areas on the body that have high heat loss would be the most efficient locations for the fabric since it is currently extremely expensive to produce (the hope is that mass-production would reduce cost by orders of magnitude). So we think battery-charging briefs are a definite possibility.

What we see here is a nano-scale Peltier electricity generator. It’s the same concept as this candle-based generator, except the increased efficiency of the Power Felt lets your wasted body heat take the place of the flame.

There’s a white paper on the topic but you can’t get at it without surrendering some [George Washingtons].

[via Reddit and Megadgets]

19 thoughts on “Check It Out, My Clothes Are Electric. No, Seriously

  1. ok im not sure how this would work, on the one hand it seems taking heat into electricity should cause a loss of heat, so this should cool your down no?
    of course if it doesnt cool down the cloth would get warmer and the temperature differential would decrease, it seems like you would need a heatsink outside the cloth to increase the temperature differential…

    1. I might be wrong, but I thought it was more based on the temperature differential, with the hotter areas wanting to cool down by them selves, in order to create an even temperature system. That way, when moving through the nanotubes (or whatever material really), it could take the energy loss to create a somewhat static charge (which, unless I’m mistaken, and I totally may be, air which cools has a higher potential energy than air at a static temperature) which can be captured to create an energy source. Something to that effect, not the using of heat, itself, to create energy. I might be totally off base, though, so I would trust a more tech savvy and more physics intuitive person than I.

  2. Sweet, I can’t wait until carbon nanotubes become the new asbestos!

    But seriously, it’s a high potential high risk technology, cell phone charging underpants are a pretty irresponsible use of something that could turn your lungs to confetti.

  3. I find it amazing that we can find ways to convert waste body heat to elec energy, and yet we still lose (roughly)50% of the energy in a coal power plant as heat in the condensing of steam… wouldn’t it be wise for us to make a point of trying to solve that problem? such a huge amount of resources being wasted… your thoughts?

  4. “Literally, just by sitting on your phone, Power Felt could provide relief during power outages or accidents.”

    I see a comeback of the phrase, “SIT ON IT!”

    I foresee a huge opportunity in the automotive application of this type of material. No, really. Most of the energy produced by internal combustion engines winds up in the form of heat, either out the exhaust or via the cooling system. Imagine if that energy could be used to power hybrid drive systems instead of being wasted.

  5. Great, I love multitasking with my crotch! Anyway this could be pretty handy for winter clothing, bigger temp. differental, more juice, and as MB said this is the Seebeck effect, temp. diff. to power, so I suppose, in summer, if you put power into the cloth you could get a cooling Peltier effect. (I don’t know if it would work, but what the hell its a good theory.)

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