Addressing the challenge
Commercial Bottleneck in Textile Electronics
The wearable electronics is a fast-growing market. It is predicted to reach over $70 billion by the end of 2024. However, the need to charge or replace batteries is a bottleneck for widespread commercial adoption of textile electronics. Plus, wireless sensor network devices are energy hungry limiting their profitable large-scale implementation.
Replacing or augmenting them with solar cells would support more wide-spread utilization of wireless sensors, which in the context of wearable solutions could involve for example person tracking in work environments, however, use of GPS is very power intensive and drains batteries quickly. Overall, when it comes to the existing textile-integrated solar cells, they are either ugly, inefficient or have poor durability.
Sun-Powered Textiles is a co-innovation project, which represents a collaboration between Aalto University, Lindström, Foxa and Haltian.
Combining expertise in new energy technologies and fashion, clothing and textile design, a multidisciplinary research team in Aalto University has developed an efficient, technically feasible, durable, and aesthetic concept for integrating solar cells with textiles to provide energy autonomous operation for wearable electronics and smart textile applications.
1. To find and develop optimal textile materials and structures for covering solar panels
2. To develop scalable fabrication techniques for integrating solar cells with textiles
3. To map the energy requirements of smart textile electronics applications and how much energy solar cells produce in different end use conditions
4. To find and test the optimal, commercially available, solar cells for scalable textile integration
5. To identify and define initial opportunities and concepts for commercial applications of textile integrated solar cells – showcase which applies project results and partners’ capabilities
Impact & Application Areas
The most obvious potential applications for autonomous smart textile system could be found from outdoor use, such as like gardening textiles, sport activities, work wear and kids wear.
However, it is well-known that commercial solar films can harvest also indoor artificial light, which makes medical and healthcare applications a highly interesting opportunity, as they can greatly benefit from autonomous energy harvesting systems.
The energy-autonomous operation provided by textile-integrated solar cells has potential to improve the reliability of smart work wear safety applications, decrease the lifetime costs and to improve environmental sustainability of smart textiles by removing the need of battery replacements and external wiring. Furthermore, it will improve washability due to complete encapsulation of electronics and energy source in the same unit.
The project successfully completed!
Project duration: 01/06/2019 – 01/05/2022
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