Thermoelectric fabric is a sort of thermoelectric materials that of thermoelectric effect, which is converting the difference between temperature to electric power and vice versa. Thermoelectric materials is used in the generators and refrigerators.
Scientists and researchers have been searching for other sources of thermoelectric materials, the Wake Forest University’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials has reached a new thermoelectric fabric, it is made from carbon nanotubes that are included in flexible plastic fibers. The new fabric is capable of producing electric charges from the variance of temperatures. The new product is called “Power Felt”.
Potential uses for Power Felt include lining automobile seats to boost battery power and service electrical needs, insulating pipes or collecting heat under roof tiles to lower gas or electric bills, lining clothing or sports equipment to monitor performance, or wrapping IV or wound sites to better track patients’ medical needs.
Cost has prevented thermoelectrics from being used more widely in consumer products. Standard thermoelectric devices use a much more efficient compound called bismuth telluride to turn heat into power in products including mobile refrigerators and CPU coolers, but it can cost $1,000 per kilogram. Like silicon, researchers liken its affordability to demand in volume and think someday Power Felt would cost only $1 to add to a cell phone cover.
Currently Hewitt is evaluating several ways to add more nanotube layers and make them even thinner to boost the power output.