Nanotechnology employed to generate power from body heat

28 August 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

Nanoscience has been employed to explore new ways of generating electricity from body heat.

Specialists at Wake Forest University developed a new power fabric using nanotechnology that could charge mobile devices while people are out and about.

The breakthrough could have a range of applications, including providing energy to emergency torches or handsets, the News Observer reports.

Power Felt can recharge items using human contact and keep them going for as much as 20 per cent longer by capturing the potential power in body heat and transforming it into electric current.

Professor David Carroll of the Wake Forest University Centre for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials and his team employed carbon nanotubes to create plastic fibres that can charge batteries.

"There's loads and loads of science behind this, but that’s not the fun part of Power Felt. The fun part of Power Felt is playing with it," he told the news source.

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However, there have been concerns raised about the potential health risks posed by nanoscience, with a team of UK scientists warning that inhaling nanofibres could be harmful.

The experts from the University of Edinburgh warn that those working in industrial and manufacturing environments where such materials are used could experience damage to their lungs.

Nanofibres have a similar shape to asbestos and are made from a range of substances, including carbon, with the researchers predicting they have the potential to lead to a cancer called mesothelioma, which has previously been linked to asbestos exposure.

Longer rather than shorter fibres were discovered to pose a risk, as they can reach lung cavities and become stuck, something that could lead to tumours.

The application of nanoscience continues to expand, despite health fears, with scientists from the University of Sheffield recently announcing they have created a "revolutionary tool" for the analysis of nanometer-sized devices.

The nuclear magnetic resonance apparatus analyzes tiny gadgets without destroying them and could contribute towards further developments in the field by providing an "unprecedented level of detail" to researchers.

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