The body electric
A recent discovery by researchers at North Carolina's Wake Forest University Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials could allow body heat to be converted into electric current.
The research team embedded carbon nanotubes into flexible plastic fibres which have the look and feel of fabric. Using this technology, they could generate energy from the difference between body and room temperature. Distance runners wearing this fabric – dubbed Power Felt - could power their MP3 players simply from the heat given off by their bodies from the effort of their running.
"We waste a lot of energy in the form of heat. For example, recapturing a car's energy waste could help improve fuel mileage and power the radio, air conditioning or navigation system", says C. Hewitt, a research student on the project. "Generally thermoelectrics are an underdeveloped technology for harvesting energy, yet there is so much opportunity." The technology can be adapted to many applications, be it car seat coverings, pipe insulation or under-roof heat collection to cut gas and electricity bills. Theoretically, you could charge your mobile just by sitting on it.