Recently, International ThermoDyne (a Charlotte, North Carolina based company) took home the grand prize at the 17th Annual Princeton Entrepreneur’s Network Business Plan Competition. International ThermoDyne has acquired the exclusive rights to lead the development of PowerFelt, a revolutionary new energy harvesting device that could turn batteries into an outdated technology.
Originally conceived at Wake Forest University, PowerFelt is a soft, durable, cloth-like material that utilizes the properties of carbon nanotubes to create electricity from the heat and motion that we are exposed to on an everyday basis. PowerFelt creates no emissions, is completely safe, and creates power from sources that you probably never thought possible. PowerFelt works by creating (and harnessing) a voltage when exposed to either a temperature differential or any type of motion, giving anyone the ability to create power completely separate from the grid. PowerFelt is still in the product development stage, but International ThermoDyne envisions the product being used in a variety of applications, potentially starting with the following industries:
- Mobile Electronics
- Remote Sensors
While thermoelectric (thermal) and piezoelectric (kinetic) generators are nothing revolutionary in the science world, PowerFelt is the first material of its kind that can harvest both thermal and kinetic energy in the same material. In addition, its flexible and lightweight composition opens the doors to many new applications for which previous energy generators were simply not practical.
At Princeton, International ThermoDyne brought one of their most recent samples to show off. The sample was about the size of a cell phone, and produced enough power to run a small electronic device such as a Fitbit. However, the company says that the sample was created for demonstration purposes only, claiming that commercial PowerFelt will only be a small fraction of the size and have a much higher output.
International ThermoDyne is currently working hard to increase the efficiency and move towards automated production of their novel product.
We are moving rapidly,said Katie Hughes, PhD, Director of Product Development for International Thermodyne,
and within two years, I expect there to be products on the shelves that use PowerFelt to harvest the heat and kinetic energy all around us.
At first it may be hard to imagine what exactly PowerFelt would be used for, but once you understand the material’s potential applications and its ability to change how we access electricity, the prospects are truly mind-boggling. A cell phone cover could charge your phone by harnessing the vibrations from walking or from the heat of your palm. A house with PowerFelt could completely eliminate your energy bill, simply from vibrations in the walls or the differential between a hot summer day and your air conditioned home. PowerFelt could even be the solution to a completely self-sustaining Internet of Things.
If development goes as planned, we could see PowerFelt in many devices you interact with everyday. Soon, you may never have to worry about dying batteries again.
International ThermoDyne is a Charlotte based company in the emerging energy harvesting industry that is heading the development and commercialization of PowerFelt. PowerFelt was initially invented at Wake Forest University’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials.