Clothing Which Can Store Energy? New Research Says It Might Be Possible

Oh, those crazy things scientists do cook up in their labs. One which looks quite intriguing is a report from a group out of Stanford University, according to PhysOrg, about an “easier way of changing ordinary cotton and polyester into ‘conductive energy textiles’ — e-Textiles that double as a rechargeable battery.” What this translates into, theoretically, is that you could use your fully charged overnight Nike jogging pants to power your iPod as you run.

This research, published recently in the American Chemical Society’s Nano Letters but also available as a PDF at one of the researcher’s Web sites, talks about an “extremely simple” process whereby one could “dip and dry” everyday textiles using “single walled carbon nanotube ink.” This ink contains “electrically conductive carbon fibers barely 1/50,000 the width of a human hair” that turn the textiles into e-textiles which are said to have “an excellent ability to store electricity” while remaining, in the case of cottons and polyesters, flexible and stretchable. As this is still in the lab at this time, there’s no way to know if this will ever see actual commercial applications, but the idea is very interesting.

image via Stanford University

“Wearable electronics represent a developing new class of materials with an array of novel functionalities, such as flexibility, stretchability, and lightweight, which allow for many applications and designs previously impossible with traditional electronics technology,” Stanford researcher Yi Cui and colleagues noted. “High-performance sportswear, wearable displays, new classes of portable power, and embedded health monitoring systems are examples of these novel applications.”

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