U.S. Army Is Working On Yarn-Powered Tech

The U.S. Army is funding fiber arts.

Researchers at North Carolina State are creating yarn-shaped supercapacitors meant to be woven into clothing to power wearable technologies. According to a report from SciTechDaily, experts discovered that the best length for these wearable batteries is approximately 15 inches to 24 inches. This length will guide the development of the strategies behind seamless integration into the fabric. 

Yarn-shaped supercapacitors created by NC State researchers in the Wilson College of Textiles.
Photo courtesy of Nanfei He, NC State University.
CREDIT: Nanfei He

Wearable power supplies are also being researched in other labs. In South Korea, for example, scientists are working on rubber-like solar panels to power worn devices. If these power devices are long-lasting and reliable, they could reduce the amount of charge time and lessen the costly impact of some energy vampires (devices we leave plugged in that use unnecessary energy). 

The N.C. State yarn innovation, “carbon-incorporated electrode yarns in a gel electrolyte,” is certainly unique and attracted the attention of the US Army, which helped fund the experiment. According to the SciTechDaily story, nylon threading was included during testing to prevent a short. The next step is to incorporate the material into clothing.

Yarn-powered tech won’t happen tomorrow; more research is needed to ensure reliability, durability, testability, and washability, but it’s on the horizon. 

The paper, “Modeling of yarn-shaped supercapacitors – Unraveling its length dependent output,” is published in the Journal of Power Sources.

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