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John O | May 2019

High schooler creates clothing that turns sweat into electricity for active cooling

By Josh Perry, Editor


Rohit Nemani, a 17-year-old student from Cox Mill High in Concord, N.C., developed an active cooling fabric with the help of equipment from North Carolina State University (Raleigh, N.C.) that pulls sweat from the skin and spreads it out to enhance evaporation on the skin and keep someone cool, according to a report from ScienceNewsForStudents.org.


A high school student in North Carolina created a novel active cooling system that turns sweat into electricity. (Wikimedia Commons)


Nemani came up with the idea of using the electrically charged salts in sweat, according to the report, while running on the school’s cross-country team.  He was able to use a special 3-D printer at NC State to print a carbon sleeve and attach zinc washers to it.


“The inner cotton layer soaks up this moisture from the skin by what’s known as capillary action,” the article explained. “The next layer is polyester. Being hydrophobic— it repels water. That spreads the sweat out, allowing it to come into contact with the carbon and zinc electrodes. Salts in the sweat react with the carbon and zinc pressed into the shirt, producing tiny amounts of electricity.”


Tests indicated that the prototype produced 0.6-0.7 volts of electricity with a half a milliliter of sweat. Linking the electrodes with metallic yarn combined that power to as much as 1.7 volts. When powered up, the sleeve actively pulls sweat from the skin. As the person cools and stops sweating, the power to the fabric would stop.


Nemani presented the sleeve at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.


The article added, “To date, Rohit has built only the one sleeve. Eventually, he hopes to weave together the electricity-conducting sleeve and active-cooling fabric into a full, prototype shirt. He has already changed the fabric’s design to make it flexible and stretchy — ideal for athletic wear.”


Read more at https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/blog/eureka-lab/ISEF-2019-sweatshirt-turns-perspiration-power.  

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