New hi-tech fabric that harnesses energy from motion and the sun illustrates how scientific ingenuity is creating ways to help tackle climate change.

Scientists in the US and China have fashioned the ultimate in power dressing: a fabric that recovers energy from movement, and at the same time turns sunlight into electricity.

It may be a while before the new material reaches the high street stores and delivers significant energy savings, but it means that a smart phone in a pocket could charge itself from the fabric around it.

And it stands as yet another example of the burst of global ingenuity by materials scientists and engineers in response to the spectre of climate change driven by rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers have already tested a “bionic leaf” that can harvest sunlight energy 10 times more efficiently than chlorophyll-powered foliage.

Carbon emissions

They have crafted windows and solar panels from wood, tested a “carbon negative” car battery that replaces its cathode material from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and confected a brew of conifer essence and gut bacteria to make high-octane rocket fuel.

They have even devised an ultra-thin membrane that could capture nine-tenths of the carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power stations.

But the latest report from the laboratories – published in Nature Energy journal – could end up being tested in the field, as a tent fabric, or in the office, as curtains that could power a lighting system, or as clothing that could exploit the wearer’s activity and place in the sun.


Source: 26 September 2016, Eco-Business