Energy harvesting fibre invented at University of Bolton

Professor Elias Siores
Image caption The unnamed fibre combines solar and movement harnessing technology

A fibre which can harvest energy from a variety of renewable sources has been invented at the University of Bolton.

The unnamed fibre is claimed by its inventors to be unique in the way it uses light and movement.

Chief inventor Professor Elias Siores said it was flexible enough to be woven into "a sail, window curtain or tent and generate power".

The material has been recognised as a major innovation at the 2011 Energy Innovation Awards in Manchester.

The flexible fibre can be incorporated into fabric, giving it numerous applications.

Inventors claim it can be knitted or woven into clothing and cases for personal gadgets, allowing items such as mobile phones or mp3 players to be constantly charging.

Professor Siores said the material had been developed because "renewable energy sources such as sunlight, wind and rain are not always available at the same time in the same location".

"Our hybrid material has combined flexible photovoltaic materials, which harness solar energy, with flexible piezoelectric fibres that generate power through movement," he said.

Image caption Professor Siores and his team won the University Spin Out prize at the Energy Innovation Awards

"This combination allows the material to produce power in all weather conditions and environments.

"It could then be knitted or woven into any larger material structure, such as a sail, window curtain or tent and generate power."

Professor Siores said that the Energy Innovation award would mean that the business applications for the product, which was developed with funding from the Knowledge Centre for Materials Chemistry, could be properly explored.

"This prize gives the team the credit it deserves for all the hard work that has gone into the research and development of the material," he said.

The Energy Innovation Awards, given by the Cheshire-based Energy Innovation Centre, celebrate energy innovation and sustainability.

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