IIT KGP Develops Technique to Generate Electricity from Drying Clothes
The researchers have also demonstrated up-scaling of this entire process by using a large number of clothes being dried in tandem by washermen in a remote village.
Now you can generate electricity from drying clothes and that too in natural ambiance if researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT-KGP) are to be believed. That’s not all. The electricity generation may be up-scaled massively by systematically drying a set of regular wearable garments under the sunlight. And this eventually culminates into a utilitarian paradigm of low-cost power harvesting in extreme rural settings, IIT KGP researchers said.
The whole process or mechanism is actually very simple yet unique. The wall of any channel has some charges inbuilt. Now if some saline water type water-based solution is passed through that wall, it creates voltage through capillary action. In this case, the regular cellulose-based wearable textile acts as a wall to develop voltage. That voltage is stored.
By utilizing tiny channels, so called nanochannels, in the cellulose-based fabric network traditionally woven, electrical power generation has been made possible by achieving guided movement of saline water amidst continuous evaporation, very much analogous to water transport across the parts of a living plant.
Prof Suman Chakraborty from the Mechanical Engineering Department, who is also a lead researcher of the group, said that the regular cellulose-based wearable textile, in this case, acts as a medium for the motion of salt ions through the interlace fibrous nano-scale network by capillary action, inducing an electric potential in the process. Their device design inherently exploits a large transpiration surface for achieving a sustainable motion of salt ions, through natural evaporation phenomenon.
The researchers have also demonstrated up-scaling of this entire process by using a large number of (around 50 in number, with a surface area of 3000 square meters) clothes being dried in tandem by washermen in a remote village. Connected to a commercial super-capacitor, in the process, the researchers were able to reliably charge up to around 10 Volt in almost 24 hours. This stored energy is enough to glow a white LED for more than 1 hour, they said.
Prof Chakraborty said that as compared to existing methods of energy harvesting from complex resources, the electricity generation occurs in the natural ambiance. Besides, in contrast to artificially engineered power generation devices needing external pumping resources, in this case, the intrinsic surface energy of the fabric is used to drive the current. In a hot and dry environment, the natural evaporation gets spontaneously enhanced, so that the flow-induced electrical potential can be maximized. The device, thus, may turn out to be extremely effective in geographically warm and dry regions of the earth.