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Category: Apparel, Athletics, Electronics

Scientists Develop Sweat-Powered Polyurethane Battery

You’ve heard of renewable energy sources like the wind and the sun, but what about a stretchy battery powered by human sweat? It’s happening, and polyurethane helps make it all possible.

Who developed it?

Recently, a team of scientists at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), developed the technology, which could have applications in the future for athletes interested in powering smart devices to measure performance. The new battery technology has the potential to limit bulky battery packs necessary to power electronic devices.

How does it work?

The wearable battery is powered by silver flakes that are contained in ink along with a hydrophilic polyurethane-acrylate (HPUA) and printed onto a stretchable band. When the flakes encounter sweat, the combination creates a chemical reaction that results in an electric current. Because the band Is absorbent, it can maintain a charge even if the user begins to sweat less.

Trial in Real-World Application

Researchers say that in an independent trial, the stretchable polyurethane battery successfully powered a Bluetooth thermometer worn by an athlete working out on a stationary bike for 30 minutes. The thermometer recorded the wearer’s temperature and delivered the information continuously to a smartphone for the duration of the athlete’s cycling session.

Potential for Future Applications

Traditional batteries have always had to sacrifice battery life for size. With consumers demanding slimmer and sleeker designs in their wearable technology, a stretchable, lightweight polyurethane battery could be the solution. It can be comfortably worn in the most streamlined designs while reliably powering electronic devices.