Researchers from the National University of Singapore said they had developed a new super-absorbent film that could turn sweat into electricity to power wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers.
The researchers developed a new film that can evaporate sweat deep in the skin to keep the person cool even while doing physical activities. They said that the film could also be included in fabrics or attached to the shoes as a shoe lining.
To test their new super-absorbent film, the researchers created their own wearable energy harnessing device, which has eight cells that can harness half a volt of energy from the sweat. Although this technology is still under the proof of concept stage and can only power a single LED bulb, the team hopes to extend it in the future to other wearable devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers.
Super-Absorbent Film Absorbs Moisture For Comfort
Underarm sweating is frustrating, embarrassing, and breeds the growth of bacteria that cause body odor. Traditional hygroscopic materials are not that absorbent because they are made of silica gels and zeolites that exhibit bulk solid structures, rendering them inappropriate for moisture absorption.
In comparison, AZO Materials reported that the super-absorbent film the researchers from NUS developed absorbs 15 times more in six times the traditional hygroscopic materials' speed.
Moreover, the film changes its color based on the degree of moisture absorption. It changes from blue to purple, and finally to pink. It is also packaged in waterproof and breathable polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) membranes, usually used in clothing. The NUS researchers demonstrated how the film would perform for a shoe insole, shoe lining, and underarm pad.
"Using the underarm pad, shoe lining, and shoe insole embedded with the moisture-absorbing film, the moisture from sweat evaporation is rapidly taken in, preventing an accumulation of sweat and provides a dry and cool microclimate for personal comfort," said assistant professor and research team leader Tan Swee Ching.
How it Works
The super-absorbent film involved a patch that can absorb the sweat when attached to clothing or shoes. Tan Swee Ching said that the skin temperature tends to lower, making the person feel cooler when the water evaporates from the skin surface. The film will help in the evaporation process by absorbing the moisture of the sweat.
The new film's main components include two hygroscopic chemicals, which are cobalt chloride and ethanolamine, MailOnline reported. Besides, the film can also rapidly release water exposed to sunlight and can be regenerated to be used again at least 100 times.
Moreover, co-leader and professor Ding jun said that the new film prototype for shoe insole was created using a 3D printer that combined the soft polymer and hard polymer to provide not only moisture absorption but also sufficient support shock absorption.
They are now looking forward to working with partner industries that will include their innovative moisture super-absorbent film in consumer products.
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