February 26, 2012
A new technology called
Power Felt, a
thermoelectric device that converts body heat into an electrical
current, soon could create enough juice to make another call on your
cell phone simply by touching it.
Developed by researchers in the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University, Power Felt is comprised of tiny carbon nanotubes locked up in flexible plastic fibers and made to feel like fabric.
The technology uses
temperature differences - room temperature versus body temperature,
for instance - to create a charge.
Potential uses for Power Felt include lining automobile seats to boost battery power and service electrical needs, insulating pipes or collecting heat under roof tiles to lower gas or electric bills, lining clothing or sports equipment to monitor performance, or wrapping IV or wound sites to better track patients’ medical needs.
Cost has prevented thermoelectrics from being used more widely in consumer products.
Standard thermoelectric devices use a
much more efficient compound called
bismuth telluride to turn heat
into power in products including mobile refrigerators and CPU
coolers, but researchers say it can cost $1,000 per kilogram. Like
silicon, they liken Power Felt’s affordability to demand in volume
and think someday it could cost only $1 to add to a cell phone
Despite the advances in nanotech, there have been many recent urgent inquiries on the manufacture of nanomaterials and the effects on our environment and health.
More research is needed into the risks
associated with the growing field of nanotechnology manufacture
which is proving to be so deadly to our environment and health that
any benefits may be easily outweighed by the risks to the
environment and all life.