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Wearable fabric that uses solar energy may become reality
May '14
In recent years, significant advances have been made in solar energy technology and in near future we may find people charging their personal electronic devices through clothes that can generate electricity from the sun’s rays.
Development of Photovoltaic Textiles based on novel Fibres (Dephotex), a European Union funded project, has developed methods to make photovoltaic material that is light and flexible enough to be worn, according to web page of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020—the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
“Flexible, light and durable solar cells embedded in fabrics are expected to be available in the very near future. This means that solar-powered personal devices could soon be on the market,” says Dephotex project manager Fanny Breuil of the Cetemmsa Technological Centre in Spain. “The next generation of flexible photovoltaic devices is on the way,” she adds.
These fabrics could be used in a wide range of settings, from sports and leisure, to car interiors and everyday clothing. Jeans could charge a mobile phone, curtains could power lamps and upholstery could charge car batteries. Solar tents and umbrellas have been envisioned – and even a solar-powered device attached to a tennis racket to measure the speed of a player’s serve.
Solar energy is a completely renewable energy source with huge potential to replace fossil fuels. Some researchers forecast it could account for more than 60 percent of the global energy market within 10 years.
The research work done by Dephotex team is bringing the rapidly developing solar energy technology down to the personal level. Other small-scale devices that could be powered by solar energy include electronic patches that release medicine for skin ailments, “accelerometers” that measure an athlete’s speed, heart rate monitors and low-power lights.
The Dephotex team identified the suitability of various materials for use as photovoltaic cells, as well as different techniques for implanting the cells into fabric, depending on the purpose. Factors such as durability, electrical properties and cost were also studied.
The research yielded substantive results, though follow-up work is needed to improve efficiency and ensure the greatest degree of flexibility. A number of research centres and large companies have expressed an interest in collaborating with the Dephotex team and pursuing potential commercial products, says the statement.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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