Scientists have developed high-tech yarns for generating energy. They do so when they are twisted or stretched. Such high tech yearns have been termed as ‘twistrons’ and have several possible applications. Such applications include using ocean waves or using fluctuations in temperature to harvest energy
At the University of Texas, Dallas, a research team of scientists along with the team at Hanyang University, South Korea, researched yarns with high technology. They figured if the yarns had the capability of generating electricity whenever they got twisted or were stretched.
In the International Journal of Science, the study was published in the 25th August issue. Researchers explained functions of twistron yarns along with their potential applications. It spoke about energy harvesting through fluctuations in temperature or through motion of ocean waves. When these yarns are sewn into a shirt, these yarns are self-sufficient to serve as a breathing monitors which requires no additional power source.
THE YARNS ARE BASED ON NANOTECHNOLOGY
For making the yarns, carbon nanotubes have been used. The carbon nano tubes are the hollow cylinders of infinitely smaller carbons. At first, the nanotubes were twisted by the researchers into lightweight and high strength bearing yarns. For increasing the elasticity of the yarns, the researchers included a lot of twist into the yarns which made it coil up like an overly twisted rubber band.
The electrolyte (made of simple stuff like table salt and water) or an ion conducting material is coated on the yarns or the yarn gets submerged into it for generating electricity. The yarns are said to be supercapacitors owing to the fact that unlike the normal capacitor where there is a need of using energy for adding charges to the capacitor, the supercapacitors work on their own.
There is no need for any external voltage or battery needed. The carbon nanotube yarn is simply immersed into the electrolyte bath and the yarns automatically get charged by the electrolyte themselves.
Whenever the yarn is twisted or stretched, for instance, there is a decrease in the volume of the carbon nanotube which brings the electric charges closer and there is an increase in energy. This, in turn, increases the voltage which harvests energy.
The scientists are currently working on making the harvesting less expensive so that they can harvest a lot of energy from the ocean waves.