A Fabric that Can Produce Energy from Heat

A New Product to Produce Energy from Heat

Power Felt can cost-effectively produce energy from heat sources. For example, body heat can power mobile electronic devices, eliminating the limitations of battery life. Heat generated by automobiles, electronic devices, household appliances, piping, roofing, and lighting can be a renewable energy source. The vast number of applications and low cost of Power Felt will create high consumer demand.

Power Felt, the Energy Producing Thermoelectric Fabric

A university researcher has developed Power Felt, a thermoelectric fabric that converts heat to electrical power. The material is created using layers of carbon nanotubes and plastic insulation, but has the flexibility and feel of felt fabric. Power Felt can convert any temperature differential into electricity. Examples include the difference between body and air temperature, engine heat and air temperature, or indoor and outdoor temperature.

Benefits

  • Power Felt is inexpensive to produce. Sufficient material to cover a cell phone could cost as little as $1.
  • Power Felt is light, flexible, and feels like fabric.
  • Power Felt will add a competitive advantage to mobile electronic devices by extending battery life or eliminating the need for more expensive batteries.
  • The energy advantages of Power Felt will increase consumer demand for a number of different products.

Application

  • Recharging mobile electronic devices, such as cell phones, mp3 players, tablets, or laptops.
  • Harnessing heat in automobiles, household appliances, water heaters, or light bulbs.
  • Incorporating into clothing to capture the difference between body heat and air temperature.
  • Creating a renewable power source for camping, backpacking, or military operations.
  • Providing an emergency power source in jackets, blankets, emergency kits, flashlights, or weather radios.
  • Generating power for medical devices and patient monitoring devices

Stage of Development

  • A successful prototype demonstrates that Power Felt can generate electrical current from body heat.
  • Actively testing ways to improve power output.

Background

  • Thermoelectric materials convert heat to electrical current and are a promising source of renewable energy that could be incorporated into multiple applications.
  • The ideal thermoelectric material is electrically conductive and thermally insulating.
  • The high cost of currently available thermoelectric material prohibits widespread use in consumer products.

Status

Provisional patent application filed.

Inventor

David L. Carroll, PhD

Publications

Hewitt CA, et al. Multilayered carbon nanotube/polymer composite based thermoelectric fabrics. Nano Lett. 2012; 12(3):1307-10.
Hewitt CA, et al. Varying the concentration of single walled carbon nanotubes in thin film polymer composites, and its effect on thermoelectric power. Appl. Phys. Lett. 2011; 98:183110.
“New fabric generates electricity via your body heat.” Forbes. February 27, 2012.
“David Carroll Turns Fabric Into an Energy Source.” Bloomberg Businessweek. March 26, 2012.

Licensing Contact

Charlie Shaw, PhD
chshaw@wakehealth.edu

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