Innovation

Future Portable Devices May Use Your Sweat For Power With This New Tech

Wearable technology may soon get rid of batteries that require charging the device from time to time. A team of researchers from France and the U.S. developed a new tool that uses sweat to generate power for such devices. 

The tool, described in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, uses a stretchable material to follow deformations on the skin. The flexibility allows it to be used on any part of the body where it would fit. 

The tool collects sweat from the skin and converts compounds to electrical energy. It works by reducing oxygen and using oxidation of lactate in perspiration to produce power. 

Developers from the University of Grenoble in France and the University of San Diego said the current version of the device can continuously light a LED. It also has a “voltage booster” for continuous flow of energy to device. 

The team was backed by the French National Center for Scientific Research. Researchers from Grenoble and San Diego combined expertise in bioelectrochemistry, nanomachines, biosensors and nanobioelectronics to develop new wearable tool. 

They used a flexible conductive material made with carbon nanotubes, crosslinked polymers and enzymes. The tool was made flexible because of stretchable connectors directly printed onto the material through screen printing.

Developers said the tool may change the future of wearable technology. Using biofuels, or in this case human sweat, to power portable devices offers a reliable and efficient energy source. 

They added using sweat as energy source could lead to the development of environmentally friendly biodevices. To date, the tech industry has been creating new wearable electronic devices for various applications to meet the changing lifestyles of people.

A recent report by Research and Markets states global wearable technology market would grow by 17.66 percent from 2019 to 2024. Smartwatches have been leading the growth with more companies offering the technology, including Apple, LG and Samsung.

Developers of the biofuel tool said their new technology may work well in medical and athletic areas. They said the tool is simple and inexpensive to produce. 

The team plans to continue developing the biofuel tool to increase its voltage and provide power to larger portable devices. 

wearable biofuel cell Image of the wearable biofuel cell applied to the arm, powering a diode attached to the black armband on the forearm. Xiaohong Chen, Département de chimie moléculaire (CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes)

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