Body heat harnessing thermo-element tattoo generates electric power
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning have developed a wearable thermo-element that converts thermal energy into electrical energy and can be very useful in powering up wearable devices. The team led by Professor Jo Byeong-jin of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has managed to create a system that can harness body heat and convert it to electricity. The thermo-element is made from glass fiber and can be embedded into clothing as it is light-weight enough to not become a hassle while wearing.
The current prototype has the form factor of a thin band that looks more like a digital tattoo and to be precise it measures 10 cm in length. With the capability to be worn around the arm, it manages to produce 40mW electricity with normal body temperature which is enough to get a semiconductor chip started. But when this thermo-element is made in length of 50cm-100cm it can produce an amazing 2W of electricity enough to power a smartphone.
When compared to some of the ceramic substrate elements having similar weight, this thermo-element wins the battle as it produces almost fourteen times higher power. This property makes it ideal for powering up wearable devices without any issues as it runs on body heat itself.
According to Professor Jo Byeong-jin
It will be commercialized within the next two – three years as long as we can solve the issues concerning element integration process optimization and mass-production. As it can be mass-produced easily, the production cost will also be lower than the batteries available at the moment. We would like to start the era of portable devices that do not require batteries by commercializing this element that produces electricity when worn as a clothing item.