Australian researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) are working on a power jacket that creates electricity based on user movement:
The device is composed of three distinct layers of components. The first rests in the form of two piezoelectric shoulder pads, which generate electricity based on user movement. The second portion consists of patches of conductive fabric, resting over the user's chest and abdomen, which store the charge generated by the shoulder pads. The last portion of the device is the rectifier and power control circuity, which converts the generated electricity into a usable form.
Lead researcher on the project, Dr. Adam Best described the device's impressive design in a recent press release by CSIRO. “It will look like an ordinary garment but have extraordinary capabilities.", he says. "As the person wearing the garment moves,the vibrations they create can be harvested and channeled in to recharging the battery or powering plug-in electronic device or devices. CSIRO has combined its significant capabilities in the areas of energy harvesting, energy storage and advanced fibre development to create the integrated battery technology.”
The power jacket seems like an intriguing example of a technology that would find itself equally at home in the consumer market -- for example, powering MP3 players for winter sports participants -- and in the defense field, powering soldier's electronics.
The military use was a major consideration in designing the device. Today's soldiers carry a large amount of batteries to power their electronics, and these batteries weigh them down and decrease mobility. By wearing a power jacket, they could ditch the batteries.
Dr. Best was thrilled at the possibility of aiding Australia's armed forces, saying, “It’s a real motivator to know this technology could one day be used by the men and women who serve in Australia’s Defence Force to protect our country.”