Twistron – Fabric Produces Electricity when Twisted

Textile technology as one of the paths to be explored in the future by the industry. An effort that will translate into a succulent business; More than 135 million euros will move in 2018. But we still have to solve some fringes that are loose, the battery, its main obstacle. And one of the solutions may be closer to what is believed thanks to a specific fiber capable of generating electricity by itself.

A group of US scientists And South Korea have developed a new fiber capable of generating electricity when stretched or twisted, according to work published in the journal Science. The material, called “Twistron”, can produce constant electric current thanks to the movement of sea waves or changes in temperature. To achieve this, a series of carbon nanotubes have been used, hollow cylinders whose diameter is up to 10,000 times smaller than a human hair.

The procedure, in theory, in simple. In order to generate the electricity, the tubes had to be submerged or coated with an ion or electrolyte conductive material, which may even be conventional table salt and water. In this state, it is possible to conduct electricity.

“When the carbon nanotube fibers are immersed in an electrolyte bath, the fibers are charged by the electrolyte itself,” said Nai Li of the NanoTech Institute at the University of Texas (USA). In this way, “no external batteries or voltage [to be switched on]” are needed, which would allow the future design of commercial objects in the form of clothing for use as a gadget or platform for connecting other electronic devices.

This research, however, is too embryonic to consider as a large-scale project but can serve as a field of experimentation for the future of “wearable” technology -vestibule, in Spanish-. In fact, in another of the tests, it was possible to weave this fiber in a specific garment, being able to feed to an electronic device of little electrical consumption or sensors necessary to monitor and collect information of the human body. During laboratory tests, the researchers showed that a wire that weighed less than a fly could turn on an LED light.

There are numerous piezoelectric materials that can generate energy when stretched or compressed, but this wire is both tough and flexible while providing the conductivity needed to generate electricity. “Obtaining electric energy from human movement is a method to eliminate the need for batteries. Our strands produced more than 100 times more electrical energy by weight when stretched compared to other tissue fibers, “says Ray Baughman, director of the NanoTech Institute. What is the problem? It needs to be soaked in electrolytes to function. Maybe the sweat?

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