A team of researchers from the University of Texas, Dallas are seemingly looking to give yarn a new utility through their newest invention, which they called the twistron. This is composed out of woven carbon nanotubes which, when twisted and stretched, can reportedly generate electricity.
The Twistron Will Twist and Turn Its Way into Power
Carter Haines and his team of scientists have created a new type of yarn, one based on carbon nanotubes. These components, woven by the team, are some 10,000 times smaller than the average width of a human hair. The nanotubes were then twisted together in a form closely resembling a strand of wool.
By using this method, the resulting product has several ‘desirable qualities’ including a high stretch and conductivity.
“Harvesting electrical energy from human motion is one strategy for eliminating the need for batteries. Our yarns produced over a hundred times higher electrical power per weight when stretched compared to other weavable fibers reported in the literature,” states Ray Baughman, the head of the UT Dallas NanoTech Institute and a team member.
The resulting twistron requires to outside electrical energy. Instead, it only has to be soaked in a combination of water and salt. Usually, an electrolyte would have been needed, but the water and salt mix was useful for at least establishing the proof of concept.
Also, the tighter twisted the yarn, the higher their energy output. The research team calculated that, by stretching the yarn 30 times a second, this could produce some 240 watts per kilogram of yarn.
To test the capabilities of their twistron, the scientists put it to two tests. One of them saw it submerged in a salty surf. Wave action led to the yarn stretching and twisting, which then generated electricity.
The other test saw it being woven into a shirt. Then, as it was worn, the participant’s respiration activated its function and helped it produce small amounts of electricity.
The study team also pointed out that its product could have a wide range of possible uses and utilizations. However, the twistron is still in the process of being patented by the researchers, and it will take a while longer before it could start being regularly used.
Current study results are available in the journal Science.
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