Personal heating patches sewn into clothes could reduce energy waste in buildings

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NEW YORK – Researchers, including one Indian American, have developed a thin, durable and high-tech personal heating patch that could be sewn into clothes to generate heat, while significantly reducing users’ electric bill as well as energy waste in buildings.

The low-cost and flexible heating patches is made from polyester fabric fused with tiny silver wires, using pulses of intense light.

Powered by single cell batteries, it can significantly reduce electric bill as well as carbon footprint.

It is estimated that 47 percent of global energy is used for indoor heating, and 42 percent of that energy is wasted to heat empty space and objects instead of people.

“This is important in the built environment, where we waste lots of energy by heating buildings — instead of selectively heating the human body,” said Rajiv Malhotra, an assistant professor from the Rutgers University.

Solving the global energy crisis would require a sharp reduction in energy for indoor heating, Malhotra said.

The new patch’s heating performance is nearly 70 percent higher than similar patches and may help warm anyone who works or plays outdoors.

It is more durable after bending, washing and exposure to humidity and high temperature, as described in the journal Scientific Reports.

Further, the team want to research whether this method can be used to create other smart fabrics, including patch-based sensors and circuits.

The engineers also want to determine how many patches would be needed and where they should be placed on people to keep them comfortable while reducing indoor energy consumption.

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