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Purdue professor aims to convert body heat into electricity

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – A Purdue University professor is developing technology to convert body heat into electricity.

“Only a portion of your heat is going to be used as the electricity,” professor Kaz Yazawa said.

Yazawa is developing a thermoelectric fabric that can convert body heat into electricity. His plan is to design a semiconductor that can be woven into a fabric.

“The idea is using those kind of semiconductor materials to somehow make useful for extracting the body heat,” he said.

When converted into electricity, it can be used to power small devices such as a heart or blood pressure monitor. This technology can be useful during a workout or monitoring overall health.

“Any kind of human activity, you can generate your power and then power up your sensor device,” Yazawa said.

The device can be attached to the thermoelectric fabric, eliminating the use for batteries. However, the amount of electricity our bodies can produce is limited.

“Expecting to charge up a cellphone is too much,” he said.

According to the professor, the amount of body heat we produce each day, if converted into electricity, is enough to power an incandescent light bulb.

“So you are kind of like just one bulb in terms of heat energy,” he said.

Yazawa’s designs are unique to others developing this technology. His plan is to weave the thermoelectric fabric into something that can be worn.

Now, Yazawa is designing a prototype and hopes to starting building soon. In order to start building the protoype, he will need help funding the project.

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