High-tech heating patches: An energy-efficient way to stay warm

Personal thermal management with enhanced performance, durability and cost-effectiveness.

This image shows how to make a personal heating patch from polyester fabric fused with tiny silver wires, using pulses of intense light from a xenon lamp. Image: Hyun-Jun Hwang and Rajiv Malhotra/Rutgers University-New Brunswick
This image shows how to make a personal heating patch from polyester fabric fused with tiny silver wires, using pulses of intense light from a xenon lamp. Image: Hyun-Jun Hwang and Rajiv Malhotra/Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Rutgers scientists along with Oregon State University, have recently come up with an innovative way that helps you to stay warm. They have developed high-tech, flexible heating patches by using intense pulses of light to fuse tiny silver wires with polyester. These inexpensive patches sewn into your clothes offers 70% higher performance than similar commercial patches.

Rutgers University-New Brunswick said, “This is important in the built environment, where we waste lots of energy by heating buildings – instead of selectively heating the human body.”

“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. Solving the global energy crisis – a major contributor to global warming – would require a sharp reduction in energy for indoor heating.”

“Personal thermal management, which focuses on heating the human body as needed, is an emerging potential solution. Such patches may also someday help warm anyone who works or plays outdoors..”

These newly developed patches are highly efficient, flexible, durable and inexpensive heating patches. They are developed by using “intense pulsed-light sintering” to fuse silver nanowires – thousands of times thinner than a human hair – to polyester fibers, using pulses of high-energy light.

The overall process took almost 300 millionths of a second.

Scientists are further planning to use this method for creating 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.

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.