Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Power Felt Converts Heat to Power

By - Source: Wake Forest University | B 36 comments

In the future, you could charge your phone simply by touching it.

Researchers at Wake Forest University have developed a new technology called Power Felt, which is capable of converting body heat to electricity. Power Felt is constructed with carbon nanotubes that integrated in plastic that feels just like fabric, according to Wake Forest graduate student Corey Hewitt. As a thermoelectric device, it can create a charge simply be leveraging temperature differences.

"Generally thermoelectrics are an underdeveloped technology for harvesting energy. There is so much opportunity," Hewitt said. "We waste a lot of energy in the form of heat. For example, recapturing a car's energy waste could help improve fuel mileage and power the radio, air conditioning or navigation system." The difference between room and body temperature could be enough to deliver enough charge for a phone call, or a flashlight. On a bigger scale. Power Felt could be used as "piping" between the outside and inside of a house to help lower electricity bills.

Power Felt is still in its nascent stages and does not deliver enough power to make a case for mass production. At this time, the researchers have been able to stack 72 layers of carbon nanotubes, which deliver 140 nanowatts of power. They are now working on ways to add more layer and make the layers thinner to achieve greater power output. One day, they hope that Power Felt could only cost $1 to be added to a cellphone.

"I imagine being able to make a jacket with a completely thermoelectric inside liner that gathers warmth from body heat, while the exterior remains cold from the outside temperature," Hewitt said. "If the Power Felt is efficient enough, you could potentially power an iPod, which would be great for distance runners. It's definitely within reach."

Wake Forest University said it is in talks with investors to produce Power Felt commercially.

Display 36 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 21 Hide
    nforce4max , June 4, 2012 1:29 AM
    I wish that such development was given priority over less important things such as Facebook for example. We desperately need to move on from using old tech that is expensive and extremely limiting. Fossil fuels is so twentieth century, higher density sources of energy are needed and efficient use of energy needs be prioritized so that costs can go down.
  • 21 Hide
    ugoing2 , June 4, 2012 1:52 AM
    "capable of converting body heat to electricity"... Does anyone remember The Matrix?
  • 12 Hide
    A Bad Day , June 4, 2012 1:47 AM
    nforce4maxI wish that such development was given priority over less important things such as Facebook for example. We desperately need to move on from using old tech that is expensive and extremely limiting. Fossil fuels is so twentieth century, higher density sources of energy are needed and efficient use of energy needs be prioritized so that costs can go down.


    Here's what many investors will ask:

    Will it generate quick profits with minimal risks and investments, or at least big enough profits to be gambled with?

    Alternative energy requires big investment, and lacks the quick/large profits for many investors.
Other Comments
  • 4 Hide
    amuffin , June 4, 2012 1:10 AM
    The things this could do for everyone that uses Folding @ Home.

    CPU Loads, generates heat, powers PSU to power parts, repeat.

    Lots of energy with minimal waste!
  • 21 Hide
    nforce4max , June 4, 2012 1:29 AM
    I wish that such development was given priority over less important things such as Facebook for example. We desperately need to move on from using old tech that is expensive and extremely limiting. Fossil fuels is so twentieth century, higher density sources of energy are needed and efficient use of energy needs be prioritized so that costs can go down.
  • 10 Hide
    HopelessNoob , June 4, 2012 1:40 AM
    does this mean that my laptop will be able to last more than an hour now?
  • 4 Hide
    DarkenMoon97 , June 4, 2012 1:42 AM
    So, since I use my phone alot, I can keep it charged with my hands? YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES!
  • 12 Hide
    A Bad Day , June 4, 2012 1:47 AM
    nforce4maxI wish that such development was given priority over less important things such as Facebook for example. We desperately need to move on from using old tech that is expensive and extremely limiting. Fossil fuels is so twentieth century, higher density sources of energy are needed and efficient use of energy needs be prioritized so that costs can go down.


    Here's what many investors will ask:

    Will it generate quick profits with minimal risks and investments, or at least big enough profits to be gambled with?

    Alternative energy requires big investment, and lacks the quick/large profits for many investors.
  • 21 Hide
    ugoing2 , June 4, 2012 1:52 AM
    "capable of converting body heat to electricity"... Does anyone remember The Matrix?
  • 2 Hide
    ikyung , June 4, 2012 3:45 AM
    nforce4maxI wish that such development was given priority over less important things such as Facebook for example. We desperately need to move on from using old tech that is expensive and extremely limiting. Fossil fuels is so twentieth century, higher density sources of energy are needed and efficient use of energy needs be prioritized so that costs can go down.

    Things like this is what generates projects like Facebook. Technology generates tools to be used by business minded people to generate capitol which creates jobs. Where do you think researchers get the funding?

    Science and technology is the wheel for prosperity.
  • 2 Hide
    Pennanen , June 4, 2012 4:12 AM
    ugoing2"capable of converting body heat to electricity"... Does anyone remember The Matrix?

    Matrix was way ahead of its time anyways :D 
  • 0 Hide
    atminside , June 4, 2012 4:26 AM
    holly crap this is the future
  • -3 Hide
    sixpac502 , June 4, 2012 5:02 AM
    Imagine you just ate boiled eggs, broccoli and drank beer.......holy crap whats that smell....nothing man im just charging my Iphone.
  • 1 Hide
    danwat1234 , June 4, 2012 5:50 AM
    Imagine wrapping an exhaust manifold and CAT with this stuff, provided it can handle the intense heat, lots of electricity generation.
  • -1 Hide
    spectrewind , June 4, 2012 6:42 AM
    ugoing2"capable of converting body heat to electricity"... Does anyone remember The Matrix?


    Yeah, I had the same flashback to that cinematic with Laurence Fishburne describing the humans/BTUs and the copper-top.
  • 1 Hide
    tomfreak , June 4, 2012 6:43 AM
    Why not use the heat produce from CPU/GPU/LCD in a phone itself to charge the phone while we are using it. Those heat combined probably are hotter than my palm.
  • 3 Hide
    memadmax , June 4, 2012 7:21 AM
    For the guy that wants alternative energy: Fusion and nuclear power....

    Wind chimes and mirrors are not gonna cut it.......
  • 2 Hide
    leeashton , June 4, 2012 7:59 AM
    peizo plates anyone?
  • 3 Hide
    The_Trutherizer , June 4, 2012 8:30 AM
    I've always wondered why they don't use sterling engines on the part of a car's exhaust where it connects to the engine. It get's red hot there and could probably power one or even two small sterling engines to provide more power to the electric engine if it is a hybrid.
  • 0 Hide
    The_Trutherizer , June 4, 2012 8:32 AM
    'Stirling'* lol
  • -2 Hide
    americanbrian , June 4, 2012 8:47 AM
    140 nanowatts......

    Does anyone here know how inconceivably small that is? You would need 7 of these stacks to make a milliwatt (980nW), and 7000 to make 1 watt. Let's put that in terms you might understand, to light an 11w CFL bulb (which is your standard 100W equivalent in old light bulbs) you need 77,000 stacks of these devices, (and all placed at the optimal heat differential).

    How much energy does it cost to produce and what is its lifetime? What is the optimal heat differential? Everyone does realise that the matrix is fiction yeah?

    Honestly, I thought more people that "knew science" would read this as opposed to what a lot of the other commenters clearly are... (stupidheads).

    Excuse me while I go enjoy my time on facebook talking to my friends for less energy spent than in the olden days where I would have to mail everyone I knew around the world to keep in touch, or phone for an ENORMOUS phone bill. Yeah, lets plough money into this research. It is totally just what the world needs.....(idiots)
  • 0 Hide
    darkavenger123 , June 4, 2012 9:28 AM
    Human will be use as batteries...they'll be store in goey liquid to preserve them and put in constant state of sleep and dreaming in order to prevent them to wake up and keeps charging the fuel reactor....

    Welcome to the MATRIX.
  • 4 Hide
    alidan , June 4, 2012 9:53 AM
    americanbrian140 nanowatts...... Does anyone here know how inconceivably small that is? You would need 7 of these stacks to make a milliwatt (980nW), and 7000 to make 1 watt. Let's put that in terms you might understand, to light an 11w CFL bulb (which is your standard 100W equivalent in old light bulbs) you need 77,000 stacks of these devices, (and all placed at the optimal heat differential). How much energy does it cost to produce and what is its lifetime? What is the optimal heat differential? Everyone does realise that the matrix is fiction yeah? Honestly, I thought more people that "knew science" would read this as opposed to what a lot of the other commenters clearly are... (stupidheads). Excuse me while I go enjoy my time on facebook talking to my friends for less energy spent than in the olden days where I would have to mail everyone I knew around the world to keep in touch, or phone for an ENORMOUS phone bill. Yeah, lets plough money into this research. It is totally just what the world needs.....(idiots)


    so you see no potential for this to get better and become a more viable solution?
    memadmaxFor the guy that wants alternative energy: Fusion and nuclear power....Wind chimes and mirrors are not gonna cut it.......


    honestly, with solar power, you can generate a crap ton of energy in places that are borderline useless for anything else (the desert)

    wind is basicly useless when you know how little each turbine makes.

    im willing to risk meltdowns for cheaper power, and more advancements, but people refuse to let nuclear advance at all because of Chernobyl and 3 mile island (which they cant prove ever leaked anything) and more recently japan.
Display more comments