Nanowire clothing could keep people warm—without heating everything else

January 7, 2015, American Chemical Society
Nanowire clothing could keep people warm -- without heating everything else

To stay warm when temperatures drop outside, we heat our indoor spaces—even when no one is in them. But scientists have now developed a novel nanowire coating for clothes that can both generate heat and trap the heat from our bodies better than regular clothes. They report on their technology, which could help us reduce our reliance on conventional energy sources, in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

Yi Cui and colleagues note that nearly half of global energy consumption goes toward heating buildings and homes. But this comfort comes with a considerable environmental cost - it's responsible for up to a third of the world's total . Scientists and policymakers have tried to reduce the impact of indoor heating by improving insulation and construction materials to keep fuel-generated warmth inside. Cui's team wanted to take a different approach and focus on people rather than spaces.

The researchers developed lightweight, breathable mesh materials that are flexible enough to coat normal . When compared to regular clothing material, the special nanowire cloth trapped body heat far more effectively. Because the coatings are made out of conductive , they can also be actively warmed with an electricity source to further crank up the . The researchers calculated that their thermal textiles could save about 1,000 kilowatt hours per person every year—that's about how much electricity an average U.S. home consumes in one month.

Explore further: 'Smart windows' have potential to keep heat out and save energy

More information: "Personal Thermal Management by Metallic Nanowire-Coated Textile" Nano Lett., Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/nl5036572

Abstract
Heating consumes large amount of energy and is a primary source of greenhouse gas emission. Although energy-efficient buildings are developing quickly based on improving insulation and design, a large portion of energy continues to be wasted on heating empty space and nonhuman objects. Here, we demonstrate a system of personal thermal management using metallic nanowire-embedded cloth that can reduce this waste. The metallic nanowires form a conductive network that not only is highly thermal insulating because it reflects human body infrared radiation but also allows Joule heating to complement the passive insulation. The breathability and durability of the original cloth is not sacrificed because of the nanowires' porous structure. This nanowire cloth can efficiently warm human bodies and save hundreds of watts per person as compared to traditional indoor heaters.

Related Stories

Keeping safe in a big freeze

January 6, 2015

(HealthDay)—As a new cold snap sends temperatures plunging across much of the United States, one expert offers tips on how to stay warm and safe.

A coating that protects against heat and oxidation

November 4, 2014

Researchers have developed a coating technique that they plan to use to protect tur- bine engine and waste incinerator components against heat and oxidation. A topcoat from micro-scaled hollow aluminium oxide spheres provides ...

What is heat conduction?

December 9, 2014

Heat is an interesting form of energy. Not only does it sustain life, make us comfortable and help us prepare our food, but understanding its properties is key to many fields of scientific research. For example, knowing how ...

Recommended for you

Magnesium magnificent for plasmonic applications

May 22, 2018

Rice University researchers have synthesized and isolated plasmonic magnesium nanoparticles that show all the promise of their gold, silver and aluminum cousins with none of the drawbacks.

Valves for tiny particles

May 22, 2018

Newly developed nanovalves allow the flow of individual nanoparticles in liquids to be controlled in tiny channels. This is of interest for lab-on-a-chip applications such as in materials science and biomedicine.

10 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

betterexists
not rated yet Jan 07, 2015
What about A.C clothes?
Too Bad.
pntaylor
not rated yet Jan 07, 2015
What about A.C clothes?
Too Bad.


A/C clothing is still referred to as "Nude in the shade/pool".
rocket77777
5 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2015
So stupid, wear some cloth.
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2015
Cloth is so passé. I want to wear toasters... and not stop there - cordless power drills, blenders, with a hat that's also a dishwasher, and curling tong shoes! At last i'll be the suave man-about-town i always wanted to be, bwahahah!
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jan 07, 2015
Cloth is so passé. I want to wear toasters... and not stop there - cordless power drills, blenders, with a hat that's also a dishwasher, and curling tong shoes! At last i'll be the suave man-about-town i always wanted to be, bwahahah!

That would be a self powered "Schneider" (from One Day at a Time) released upon the world...
teslaberry
5 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2015
this solution has been talked about for a long time as heated clothing has been left as a mostly abandoned technology. there are a few tech companies selling more less decades old technology for skiing consumer and surfers. battery packs that are getting smaller and more power dense are now making the idea of heated clothing more appealing.

it is time to start working on newer underlying fabric technology for this application. needless to say, it will compete with existing consumer recreation and outdoor work clothing retailers.
however---the notion that one day people will heat their houses much less than they do now is a hard sell.

it's been known for years that MANY old castles around europe selling for very very little money are horrible investments primarily because they are impossible to heat and very uncomfortable in cold european winters. in the old days they probably burned enormous amounts of wood AND still were cold. new technology could make them inhabitable
Job001
not rated yet Jan 08, 2015
People already can stay warm cheaper by putting on insulative clothes but they turn up the thermostat instead. Consequently the assumption that people will actually wear, use and wear out expensive clothes and a five pound(est?) all day battery pack is absurd.
Young hot girl friends generally do not take advice well to "remove clothes", and older cold girl friends do not take advice well to "put on clothes". ;}
Humans need a certain metabolic rate, generally about a third of maximum. More importantly, adding heat and insulation make people fat, which is a tough sell except for survivalists perhaps. Likewise, one can use a heat band and existing warm clothing products to partially reduce metabolism. Alternatively, one can heat a small core room rather then a whole house as is done by many people routinely with a heater of a wide variety.
Consequently, this is a product idea with near zero real market.
MR166
not rated yet Jan 08, 2015
It should definitely have a use in winter outdoor gear. This should be great for boots, gloves, hats and coats. It should even make a great light weight blanket for sleeping.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2015
Cloth is so passé. I want to wear toasters...

Well, I'd prefer motion-tracking IR 'guns' in my home.
But you do want to heat your home at least a little bit. Otherwise you'll be facing some very expensive rennovation costs soon (mold, etc. )
redpine
not rated yet Jan 10, 2015
And what would keep the plumbing from freezing. Sitting around inside a house
watching one's breath emerge as a cloud and fall as snow to the frozen
carpeting while trying to watch TV doesn't appeal to me at all. This idea
is just nuts.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.