Researchers at the University of California at San Diego (USA) have created a sports shirt that, thanks to integrated electronics, can generate enough energy from sweat and movement to power a watch. The combination of two different energy sources and storage via integrated capacitors ensure a continuous power supply. Scientists took inspiration from local energy grids, which often combine different energy sources (like the sun and wind), sometimes in combination with large batteries for storage. But in this case, it is the micro-electronics incorporated into a sports jersey. Up front are bioreactors in which enzymes use the lactate in sweat to generate electricity. In addition, there are mini generators in the sleeves that get their energy from the friction between the arms and the body. The energy then goes to the capacitors.
All parts are connected via silver wires printed on the material, provided with a waterproof coating. The pieces are flexible and can stretch with the fabric. The different components are matched to each other. During a race, the generators in the sleeves will produce the lion’s share of the energy first, while the bioreactors will only run at full capacity when the athlete starts to sweat after a certain amount of time. When tested on a ten-minute treadmill or exercise bike, followed by twenty minutes of rest, the t-shirt was found to produce enough energy to run an electronic watch with a color screen for a half hour. Researchers believe they can modify their system as well.
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