* A team of international researchers have created a new stretchy yarn that can convert movements into electricity.
* The new energy-harvesting device called “Twistron”, was developed from carbon nanotube.
* One piece of yarn is able to produce sufficient power to light a LED and when twisted together in numbers – one kilogram of twistron can generate 250 Watts.
Imagine being able to charge your phone or operate a battery-less music player during a morning run. Thanks to newly developed stretchy yarn called “Twistron”, you could soon be able to do that.
The yarn – which was developed by an international team of researchers from carbon nanotube material – can be twisted like an elastic coil to generate electricity. One piece of yarn is able to produce sufficient power to light a LED and it has the capacity to generate 250 Watts per kilogram when pulled together in numbers, 30 times per second.
One of the researchers, Ray Baughman from University of Texas at Dallas, told Digital Trends:
“My first efforts doing this go back to 1980, using artificial polymers to build electrochemical muscles. We figured out that if you can use electrical energy to drive artificial muscle to produce mechanical energy, maybe it is possible to run it in reverse – and harvest mechanical energy as electricity. For all the years since then, I have failed to make this work. Now that’s changed.”
When sewed into a t-shirt, it could power breathing sensors – like those used to monitor babies – using the stretch caused by the chest expanding at every inhalation.
The innovation could be used to power internet-connected devices and smart clothing.
“Electronic textiles are a major commercial commercial interest, but how are we going to power them,” Dr Baughman said in a statement. “Harvesting electrical energy from human motion is one strategy for eliminating the need for batteries,” he said.
But the twistron’s most compelling feature was the ability to operate in sea water and potentially harvest vast amounts of energy from the ocean, he added.
“The grander dream is to make a real difference in the energy economy of nations,” Baughman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
A trial in South Korea showed that a small twistron attached between a buoy and a sinker on the seabed produced electricity every time a passing wave pulled the yarn.
Baughman said that the technique could be scaled up in the future to create sea-power stations that can light entire cities, though harvesters are currently too expansive.
Under the Paris accord reached in 2015, rich and poor countries committed to reducing emission of greenhouse gases generated from burning fossil fuels that are blamed by scientists for warming up the planet.