Innovation That Matters

The biofuel cells collect energy from sweat | Photo source Lu Yin

Screen-printed e-textile uses sweat and motion to power small devices

Computing & Tech

A wearable, energy-generating microgrid can continuously charge an electronic device for at least 30 minutes

Spotted: A team of nanoengineers from the University of California San Diego have created a wearable, energy-generating microgrid. The combination of two power sources with an energy storage unit allows the wearer of the fabric to continuously charge an electronic device for at least 30 minutes. The research team was supported by the UC San Diego Center for Wearable Sensors and the National Research Foundation of Korea and builds on earlier work that created some of the initial sweat-harvesting wearables.

The microgrid consists of biofuel cells and triboelectric generators. The biofuel cells collect energy from sweat and are located by the chest, on the inside of the shirt. They steadily produce a low voltage of electricity, with the triboelectric generators converting energy from the friction motion on the arms and sides of the shirt. These produce blasts of high voltage power. The energy storage unit located on the outside front of the shirt combines the two differently paced power systems for maximum efficiency in output.

Flexible and washable, the researchers envision the microgrid initially being used by athletes and people exercising or travelling on foot. Further iterations of the concept will focus on identifying new combinations of power sources so as to make a wearable electricity generator useful in a range of additional scenarios, including office working and with regular, everyday movements.

Other interesting wearables Springwise has spotted recently include blood glucose-measuring earrings and earbuds that translate conversations in real-time.

Written By: Keely Khoury

Explore more: Computing & Tech Innovations | Agriculture & Energy Innovations

Email: llabios@ucsd.edu

Website: cws.ucsd.edu

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