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As natural as breathing

My Take | February 10, 2017 | By:

All moving things generate kinetic energy. Ok, that’s obvious. … The human body itself is a reliable source of energy. Not the first thing that jumps to mind. … The most consistent energy source in our body is … breathing.

Let that settle for a minute, and then read our feature, “Textile integration of piezoelectric energy harvesting” by Tahzib Safwat and Allison Bowles, for a fascinating description of the research now underway to integrate the kinetic energy in breathing into textiles for use as power sensors.

These would be low-power devices, to be sure, but it’s enough power for the applications under consideration. The implications of this are potentially far-reaching, with uses in many markets that I can imagine, including health and wellness, sports, military, police and first responders.

The researchers are affiliated with the Textile Engineering, Chemistry & Science Department in the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University (NCSU), a facility well known for its work in textile sciences.

It may not seem that our two features just posted have much to do with each other, but in the larger picture, I think they do. Incorporating kinetic energy is one way to contribute to more sustainable energy solutions; “going circular” is another.

Marie O’Mahony’s article, “What ‘going circular’ means for the apparel and textile industry,” outlines an approach to managing the larger sustainability picture. She makes the point that addressing sustainability successfully requires a variety of well-coordinated strategies.

So, in essence, with these two features we have an overview in one and a much more specific look at one strategy in the other. There are many more strategies we can discuss, and I invite you to share what your companies and research facilities are doing, as well as ideas for other topics regarding sustainability questions. Let’s keep the discussion about more sustainable practices ongoing.

In fact, you can plan now to participate at the Advanced Textiles Conference Sept. 26-27, 2017 in New Orleans. Dr. Chris Rahn, one of the researchers involved in the collaborative project discussed in our feature on energy harvesting, will present the latest on the project. You can find out more by visiting


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