Irish and UK Scientists Develop Energy from Cloths using Nanotechnology 

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  • Scientists are to investigate capturing green energy from clothing
  • The power generated could be used to power a host of electronic devices including mobile phones
  • The project is a collaboration between scientists from Ireland and Scotland

Can you imagine your jacket or T-shirt will be able to power your mobile phone in future? 

A multi-disciplined team of Irish and UK scientists including from IT Sligo’s Nanotechnology and Bio-Engineering research will investigate how to harvest the kinetic energy generated in clothing nano technology. 

If successful, these tiny, unremarkable materials will be woven into your clothing to charge devices trough kinetic energy generated through movements such as walking or running.  

The €1.5 million project is jointly funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC UK) and will investigate the huge potential of this technology. 

This technology could be available as early as 2027 and are hoping to power devices such as smart watches, mobile phones or wearable healthcare monitors. 

Prof. Suresh C. Pillai, Principal investigator of the T-TENG project for Ireland and the Head of Nanotechnology and Bio-Engineering research group at IT Sligo says: 

“Our life is increasingly depending on smart devices attached to our body such as smart watch, fitness monitors or different types of health analysers; thanks to the fast growth of the ‘Internet of Things’.

“The most commonly used power source of these devices is lithium ion batteries. As the level of functionality has increased and the devices have miniaturised to fit the human body, the demand for energy is also increasing and are predicted to upsurge significantly in the coming years.”

Frequent charging and physical rigidity of batteries are the main challenges for future development in the area of wearable devices. Therefore, there is an urgent requirement to harvest an alternative & continuous energy source.

Prof Suresh says: “In fact, our body is an effective power source: activities of daily living such as brisk-walking or regular movement can produce electricity using nanotechnology methods.”

The investigation is aiming to convert human motion into electricity using the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) technology, which is an efficient solution to harvesting power from human motion.

“As result of the human motion, the TENG materials attached to the clothing move back and forth relative to each other, electrical current is produced. The project is aiming to develop next generation of ultra-high-performance wearable textile-TENG capable of powering energy autonomous sensing fabrics and other wearable devices while avoiding the need for carrying heavy battery packs.”

The project, titled “Next Generation Triboelectric Nano Generator based Energy Autonomous Textile Fabrics”, comprises the University of Glasgow, the Institute of Technology Sligo, Tyndall National Institute and Heriot-Watt University.  The other Irish co-Investigator is Dr. Michael Nolan from Tyndall National Institute Cork.