Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new design for harvesting body heat and converting it into electricity for use in wearable electronics. The experimental prototypes are lightweight, conform to the shape of the body, and can generate far more electricity than previous lightweight heat harvesting technologies. The researchers also identified the optimal site on the body for heat harvesting.
“Wearable thermoelectric generators (TEGs) generate electricity by making use of the temperature differential between your body and the ambient air,” says Daryoosh Vashaee, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Previous approaches either made use of heat sinks — which are heavy, stiff and bulky — or were able to generate only one microwatt of power per centimeter squared (μW/cm2). Our technology generates up to 20 μW/cm2 and doesn’t use a heat sink.”