Scientists Found a Way to Turn Your Body Into a Battery … With Your Clothes

Photo credit: Malte Mueller - Getty Images

Photo credit: Malte Mueller – Getty Images

  • Scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have devised a way to turn your body into a battery through clothing.

  • A 3-centimeter-by-4-centimeter piece of fabric generated enough energy to power 100 light-emitting diodes for up to five months.

  • That durability is thanks to a polymer that converts mechanical stress into electricity when it’s pressed, stretched, or squeezed.

Batteries provide energy to electronic devices. Your body generates and uses energy. Ergo, you’re basically a battery.

As you run, walk, or even breathe, your body is moving. A system fine-tuned enough to collect and store that output can transpose it into energy for the electronics we carry with us everyday. The obvious substrate in which to build such a system is our clothes, since they move along with us.

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But without a series of wires or magnetic coils, how can cotton, wool, polyester, or even leather garments collect, store, and transport electricity? A team at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore thinks it has the answers to finally harness your inner generator—and keep you from needing to borrow a charging cord.

Laundry-Proofing the Concept

Human motion powering electrical machinery isn’t new. An arts district in Las Vegas, Nevada already uses the footsteps of passing pedestrians to power its lighting and a nightclub in Glasgow, Scotland announced last year it was going to use the energy from all those dancing bodies to power its heating and cooling systems.

Even power-generating systems in clothing have been around for a while, with tiny wires and circuitry built into the fabric. The downside to these projects so far is that sensitive circuitry doesn’t respond well to being crushed

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