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Researchers At IIT Kharagpur Have Successfully Generated Electricity From Wet Clothes. Whoa!

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Lazy girls who hate doing their laundry listen up, you might be able to knock some extra bucks off of the electricity bill! Researchers at IIT Kharagpur’s Mechanical department have managed to generate electricity from clothes drying on a line. And if all goes to plan, soon this can be used as a clean source of energy in every household, using the same electricity (kinda) that was used to wash the clothes in the first place.

The research was carried out at a dhobi ghat. A total of 50 wet clothes with a surface area of 3,000 square meters was put up for drying by washermen at a nearby village. According to reports from the lead researchers, the clothes were connected to a commercial super-capacitor. This, in turn, generated enough charge, 10 volts in 24 hours, which is enough to light a white LED for more than an hour. How fascinating!

When it comes to sustainable fashion, this comes right up there with ethical sourcing and equal wage. Fashion still remains one of the most polluting industries in the world and an initiative like this can reverse things for the better.

Professor Suman Chakraborty, IIT Kharagpur revealed, “We have done very significant consistent research to figure out that this is indeed a possible phenomenon and developed a technology to source electricity from clothes drying in open space. This power may not be used for large scale application but is good enough to change the lives of a rural community.” He further elaborated, “Clothes are illusively complex, if we look into a cloth we will see that it is made of a very complex yet regular structure of cellulose fibers. These cellulose fibers have certain charges in their walls. Now if you immerse a piece of cloth in a salt solution and have transpiration by surface tension then the salt solution will flow and ionize as it moves along the different passages of the cellulose fibers. The movement of ions in a continuous process generates a continuous voltage. If connected to an external register and can generate small power.”

We can’t think of a better place to deploy this research than the famous dhobi ghat of Mumbai. Not only are the dhobis in dire need to add resources, but it is also the biggest open-air laundromat in the country.

Further revealing details about the research, PhD scholar Sankha Shuvra Das of IIT Kharagpur revealed, “Now we have developed a technique where we have used a surface energy of the device in order to drive the liquid through the device and also we have utilized the evaporation from the surface so that we get the continuous migration of the ions”. He also said this is the first time a cloth-based device has been developed.

He managed to explain how the whole thing works in simple, yet effective, language, “The root area of the cloth is in contact with the liquid solution and due to the surface tension of the cloth, it is basically driving the ions in a forward direction or in a downstream direction. After some time when the surface gets saturated with the liquid, we connect a nanovolt meter probe and the electricity is generated,” he added. Okay, we kind of get it but more than that, we are impressed that this is even a thing.

BRB, going to learn how to finally do my own laundry at home!

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