Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - 46

[ MARKETS ] ADVANCED TEXTILES
are swapped between lactate and
oxygen molecules in order to generate
electricity. Movement is captured from
the sides of the body and arms as the
person walks or runs, with triboelectric
generators placed on the surface of the
shirt harvesting this energy.
Storing the energy from both sources
are supercapacitors located on the
surface of the shirt around the chest.
These then release the energy capable
of powering small electronic devices.
Incorporating a dual system increases
efficiency and reliability while reducing
the risk of running out of energy.
 Harnessing energy from sweat
and human movement, the wearable
microgrid developed at UC San Diego
is capable of powering this LCD
wristwatch or a small electrochromic
device. Photo: Lu Yin.
Technical University in Singapore
researchers have developed a battery
using a hydrophilic polymer and
small quantities of silver printed on a
highly absorbent fabric that draws in
sweat, triggering a reaction that results
in power-generation. The battery is
restricted to use on areas of the body
that produce the most sweat, such as
the wrists.
Researchers at the University of
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California San Diego (UC San Diego)
are also harvesting energy from sweat
but combine this with other sources
such as movement. Researchers
compare the approach of local energy
harvesting to that of a city microgrid,
even referring to it as a " wearable
microgrid. " At the Center for Wearable
Sensors at UC San Diego, a prototype
shirt has been made to demonstrate
how efficiently the system works in
optimizing energy collection.
Sweat is collected from the chest
area using biofuel cells equipped
with enzymes ensuring electrons
46 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / January 2022
Soft and stretchable
At the Dept. of Chemical and
Biomolecular Engineering, North
Carolina State University (NC State),
Prof. Michael Dickey and his team
have developed a soft, stretchable
energy harvester using a liquid metal
alloy (gallium and indium) encased in
a hydrogel. The ions in the hydrogel
react with the metal inducing a change
in the latter, attracting charge and
generating electricity.
Highly versatile, it can be
stretched and deformed, and it
works underwater. Like many of the
developments mentioned, this is
highly specialized, but that doesn't
mean that it's developed in isolation.
Professor Dickey's university web
page lists some of the application
areas his group's research looks to,
including " patterning, 3D printing,
stretchable/soft electronics, selffolding,
actuating of soft robotics,
wearable electronics, energy harvesting
devices, reconfigurable circuits and
microfluids. " Such diversity cannot but
create a crossover of ideas and a fertile
ground for innovation.
Dr. Marie O'Mahony is an industry consultant,
author, academic and a frequent contributor
to IFAI publications.
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Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022

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