Fabric harnessing energy from sun and motion is here

Over the past few years, textile sector has been witnessing a gamut of innovations that has changed the face of the industry. Right from glowing fabrics to self-cleaning fabrics, every innovation in textiles has made people stand up and take notice.

In a new development, researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology, US, have woven a new fabric that can harvest energy from the sun and motion. This can be indeed called a turning point in the history of textiles innovation where scientists have woven photoanodes (solar cells made from lightweight polymer fibers) and triboelectric nanogenerators ( generate small amounts of electricity from motion) together to produce a piece of cloth called, ‘hybrid power textile’. The new textile is 320 micrometers thick and said to be ‘highly flexible, breathable, light-weight and adaptable to a range of uses’.

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Image Curtesy: inhabit.com

According to Georgia Tech, the oldest polytechnic universities in the United States, the team used a piece of fabric about the size of a standard sheet of paper, and then attached it to a rod, similar to how a flag is mounted.The textile ‘flag’ was then allowed to blow in the wind while being driven in a car with the windows down, which generated ‘significant power’, even on a cloudy day. The output of a 4 cm x 5 cm piece of the power textile was said to be capable of charging a 2 microfarad capacitor to 2 V in one minute from motion and sunlight, essentially showing “a decent capability of working even in a harsh environment’.

The team published its findings in the journal Nature Energy under the theme, ‘Micro-cable structured textile for simultaneously harvesting solar and mechanical energy’.

This innovation in textiles open up a way for future textile, which is both viable and environment friendly. The best part is that the textile is made of commonly-used polymer materials, which are economical and environment friendly, thus, creating a possibility of large-scale manufacturing. At present, the team is working on improving the durability of ‘Hybrid power textile’ over the long term and optimizing it for industrial purposes, including developing ways to protect the electrical components in it from moisture.

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