UK researchers modify technology for industrial scale power clothing production

2 December 2015 (Last Updated December 2nd, 2015 18:30)

Researchers at the Brunel University London, UK, have identified ways to refine supercapacitor thread producing technology, which can be used to develop energy storage clothing.

supercapacitor thread

Researchers at the Brunel University London, UK, have identified ways to refine supercapacitor thread producing technology, which can be used to develop energy storage clothing.

The technology had previously been innovated and was being researched for quite some time.

Scientists intended to develop a clothing material with the supercapacitor thread, which can be used as power sources for smartphones, tablets and other personal tech equipment.

However, the technology neither supported sufficient voltage for most devices nor its commercial production outside the lab.

Industrial design researchers at the university professors David Harrison and John Fyson, Dr Yanmeng Xu, Dr Fulian Qiu and Ruirong Zhang have now modified the technology to remove both the limitations.

Harrison said: "Supercapacitors are already ubiquitous as back-up power in phones, PCs and tablets.

"They store energy without a chemical reaction so can be charged and discharged almost indefinitely. But in thread form they have never before been able to break the 1V barrier.

"What we have done is show we can produce a multi-layered structure with two sequential capacitive layers capable of producing up to 2V."

"What we have done is show we can produce a multi-layered structure with two sequential capacitive layers capable of producing up to 2V. Breaking the 1V threshold is important as in the real world we work on the voltage of common batteries – 1.5V.

"We also wanted to address mass production issues so developed a process to semi-automatically coat stainless steel wire the thickness of a human hair with eight separate layers."

The innovation has been backed by the European Union and is a part of the Powerweave programme.

The EU-sponsored programme aims at developing technology to produce textiles with power generation and storage properties, for which researchers from seven countries have been coordinating.


Image: A schematic of the new energy-storing thread. Photo: courtesy of Brunel University London.