Development of solar energy harvesting textiles

Satharasinghe, A.S. ORCID: 0000-0002-7124-8228, 2019. Development of solar energy harvesting textiles. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

DEVELOPMENT OF SOLAR ENERGY HARVESTING TEXTILES_Achala Satharasinghe 2019 .pdf - Published version

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The Achilles heel of many wearable and electronic textile (E-textile) devices is their power requirement, which has been a major hurdle in the adoption of E-textiles. To keep these devices continuously powered without frequent recharging or bulky energy storage devices, many have proposed integrating energy harvesting capability into clothing. Solar energy harvesting has been one of the most investigated avenues for this due to the abundance of solar energy and maturity of photovoltaic technologies.

This research investigated a novel approach for realising solar energy harvesting with textiles by embedding miniature solar cells (SCs) within the fibres of a yarn, thus delivering a robust and consumer-friendly solution for powering wearable and mobile devices. SCs were first soldered onto fine copper wires and encapsulated inside of resin micro-pods, before being covered by a fibrous sheath, to realise solar cell embedded yarns (solar-E-yarns) that can be readily converted into fabrics with conventional fabric manufacturing processes such as weaving and knitting. Preliminary investigations conducted using miniature photodiode embedded E-yarns laid the foundation for embedding photovoltaic devices within yarns. A mathematical model was also formulated to characterise the performance of photovoltaic devices embedded in yarns and was experimentally validated using photodiodes to evaluate the effects of the resin micro-pod on photovoltaic response.

Subsequently solar-E-yarns were fabricated using silicon SCs. The photovoltaic response of these solar-E-yarns were studied at each stage of the E-yarn fabrication process and under a range of test conditions including different light intensities, incident light angles, ambient temperatures and humidity levels. Solar-E-yarn performance could be further enhanced by impregnating the photoactive sides of the yarns with an optically clear resin, as well as by using bifacial SCs.

A series of fit-for-purpose tests including wash durability tests were conducted on the solar-E-yarns which revealed that the solar-E-yarn embedded fabrics could undergo domestic laundering and maintained ~90% of the original power output after 15 machine wash cycles, which was vastly superior to other solutions proposed in the literature.

To demonstrate the energy harvesting capability, prototype demonstrators were created by weaving solar-E-yarns. A solar fabric demonstrator with ~25cm2 active area generated up to ~2.15 mW/cm2 under one sun illumination and maintained both the feel and aesthetics of a normal textile. The fabric demonstrator was capable of charging various electronic storage and powering low power mobile devices.

The research has generated a wealth of knowledge on the fabrication, performance and the utility of the solution for regular clothing applications. These attributes will enable these solar fabrics to feature in future wearable electronics and electronic textiles to provide a continuous supply of power, without having to compromise on comfort, aesthetics or wash durability.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Satharasinghe, A.S.
Date: October 2019
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed in the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Art and Design
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 09 Jul 2021 09:33
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2021 09:41

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