Double Charging Textile Obviates Clunky Dune Stillsuit Boots
When I read about the cool stillsuit from Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune I marveled at its amazing ability to harvest energy from ordinary human motion - like walking in stillsuit desert boots:
Paul sat on the edge of his bed and began stripping off his desert boots. They smelled rancid from the lubricant which eased the action of the heel-powered pumps that drove his stillsuit.
However, real researchers have come a long way. Consider this amazing self-charging textile with an amazing one-two energy harvesting punch - it collects solar energy and the mechanical energy of human motion.
The top layer contains thin, flexible solar cells woven into a material that harvests energy from the sun. The bottom layer is made from similarly pliable supercapacitors that store the energy for later use, researchers report October 26 in Science Advances.
As the person wearing the material moves, the two layers of fabric rub together and build up static electricity. The supercapacitors stockpile that energy, too. Harnessing two energy sources provides more consistent power than relying on solar cells alone, says study leader Zhong Lin Wang of Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The prototype textile — a 13-centimeter-square swatch — can power an LED or a digital watch, but the researchers hope it could someday charge more energy-intensive electronic devices such as fitness trackers or MP3 players.
Maybe we could cut down on those bulky thigh-pads...
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