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Power Felt could one day run portable devices from body heat

PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:19 pm
by wesblack

Developed by a team of researchers in the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University, it comprises carbon nanotubes locked up in flexible plastic fibers and made to feel like fabric.


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, an emergency kit powering a weather radio, or wrapping around 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 it can cost $1,000 per kilogram.

Like silicon, researchers liken its affordability to demand in volume and think someday Power Felt would cost only $1 to add to a cell phone cover.

Currently, Wake Forest is in talks with investors to produce Power Felt commercially.