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Turning Sweat Into Power


Sweat more to sweat less. Kinda paradoxical, huh?

There is no greater feeling than working up a big sweat after a long workout to symbolize the hard work you just put in. But, let’s remember why we are sweating so much. Sweat is used as a way to cool your body down. Why not find a way to use that sweat to our advantage?

A young researcher is trying to do just that. 17-year-old Rohit Nemani has been a cross-country runner for the past several years. He points out the fact that many athletes overheat in the summer from dehydration and heatstroke. Nemani remembered that salt is produced when we sweat and that it can produce electricity when coming into contact with an electrode.

He wanted to find a way to include electrodes into the fabric of a shirt. When sweat builds up, it would conduct electricity and activate a cooling fabric in the shirt. The sweat would be spread throughout the shirt, allowing you to feel even cooler than before. This cooling would allow you to sweat less, which would then turn off the power to the fabric. And, when you start to sweat more, it would activate it to start up again.

The teen is currently working on creating a shirt that can perform the tasks mentioned above. The tricky part for him was figuring out a way to weave carbon and zinc into the shirt. With the use of a 3-D printer, he was able to print carbon and attach zinc washers onto the fabric, which conducted the electricity.

The inner cotton layer soaked up the sweat while a layer of polyester was added to repel the water, thus spreading the sweat out, allowing contact to happen with the carbon and zinc electrodes. The electricity is created and activates the cooling fabric.

He did all of this on a sample sleeve and will be applying it to a full shirt soon. He is also looking at ways of keeping the shirt light so that people who work out can wear it. This shirt would be quite a remarkable way to take advantage of our sweat and help us to stay cool and healthy.