Purdue University Researcher Develops Fabric That Uses Body Heat To Power Devices [Video]By Mark Spencer, UniversityHerald Reporter
While some researchers are on a quest to make us better-enhanced humans, Kazuaki Yazawa, a research associate professor at Discovery Park's Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue University, Indiana, has developed technology that would harness body heat to provide power for Internet of Things (IOT) devices.
Yazawa developed a thermoelectric generator technology, which employs semiconductor strings that can be woven into fabric. What it does is take heat from any type of surface and converts that heat into a small amount of electricity.
He says the new technology addresses the inadequacy of more conventional thermoelectric generators. Apparently, Yazawa's semiconductor strings are easier to manage and far more flexible, according to Futurism.
To gather significant amounts of energy from the body's low heat flux, it would require thermoelectric elements larger than one inch to generate high power output. However, such thickness cannot fit three-dimensional forms of the body.
To solve this problem is by redesigning the thermoelectric generator using a weaving technique allowing the technology to wrap and fit any shape to collect the excess heat. According to Phys.org, Yazawa lengthened the threads and used a combination of insulation to make the generator flat and manageable. The resulting product is ideal for use in clothing or any shape that generate waste heat.
The new weaving technique for the thermoelectric generator can thus harness the maximum amount of heat possible, a capability that eliminates the need for batteries. Yazawa envisions the use of the technology to power Internet of Things (IoT) devices, in hospitals, and sports.
According to Yazawa, hospital use could power health devices that monitor a patient. In sports, athlete's performance can be monitored in real-time. Another use for the product is to cool down" users since the device collects body heat, it could potentially use the energy to be converted an be used to lower body temperature, useful for athletes and military applications.
Apparently, it will not take long for developers to wait for potential body-heat powered devices. The Purdue Research Foundation's Office of Technology Commercialization holds the patent for the technology and is now available for licensing.
Yazawa further stated that they have analyzed and modeled the technology and it is ready for further testing and development.