Temperature control wearable tech could help decrease energy use

Temperature Control Wearable Technology - Thermostat

A team of engineers are working on personal wearable heating and cooling patches.

A team of American engineers have developed a temperature control wearable tech that can heat and cools skin with a battery-powered patched embedded in clothing. This technology has the potential to reduce energy consumption.

Regulating personal body temperature can decrease energy wastage.

Renkun Chen, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and his team of researchers, constructed a temperature control wearable tech patch from thermoelectric alloys embedded between two layers of stretchy elastomer.

This technology could potentially cut down on energy use and energy costs by regulating an individual’s personal temperature instead of having to heat or cool their home or office environment. The researchers’ findings were recently published in Science Advances.

According to the researchers, the patch’s thermoelectric component is composed of small pillars of bismuth telluride alloy soldered to thin copper strips. Meanwhile, the elastomer strips are made up of Ecoflex, a rubbery material. The Ecoflex is combined with aluminum nitride to enhance its thermal conductivity.

Chen and the team of researchers said that with the optimization achieved, they were able to accomplish cooling of greater than 10ºC (50ºF) for more than eight hours. According to the researchers, this is the first time this has been achieved by a flexible, wearable cooling device without requiring the support of a water heat sink.

In regard to heat, the team was able to warm skin to 32ºC (89.6ºF) and maintain this temperature while the surrounding temperature was increased from 22ºC to 36ºC (71.6ºF to 96.8ºF).

“This type of device can improve your personal thermal comfort whether you are commuting on a hot day or feeling too cold in your office,” said Chen, reports Create Digital.

The temperature control wearable tech uses an electric current to “pump” heat.

The heat is “pumped” between the elastomer sheets through the thermoelectric pillars. The result is one side of the patch heats up while the other cools.

“To do cooling, we have the current pump heat from the skin side to the layer facing outside. To do heating, we just reverse the current so heat pumps in the other direction,” Chen explained.

Additionally, thewearable technology patch has a power source and the armband includes a circuit board that can expand to fit the wearer.

According to Chen, now that the researchers have managed to solve all the fundamental problems, thy now need to tackle the larger engineering issues, such as the electronics, hardware and developing a mobile app to allow users to control the temperature.

Temperature Control Wearable Technology - ThermostatThe temperature control wearable tech is currently in a proof-of-concept stage. However, the researchers hope that their device will achieve commercialization in the next few years.

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