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THIS MONTH'S FEATURE ARTICLE
Engineers will be called upon to find solutions for the challenges the world will face in the 21st century. These articles highlight the diversity of the work which continues in the search for those solutions.

High-Tech Heating Patches Created
January 2019

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes – while significantly reducing your electric bill and carbon footprint?

Engineers at Rutgers and Oregon State University have found a cost-effective way to make thin, durable heating patches by using intense pulses of light to fuse tiny silver wires with polyester. Their heating performance is nearly 70 percent higher than similar patches created by other researchers, according to a Rutgers-led study in Scientific Reports.


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. Credit: Hyun-Jun Hwang and Rajiv Malhotra/Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

They are inexpensive, can be powered by coin batteries and are able to generate heat where the human body needs it since they can be sewed on as patches.

“This is important in the built environment, where we waste lots of energy by heating buildings – instead of selectively heating the human body,” said senior author Rajiv Malhotra, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. The department is in the School of Engineering.

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, the study notes. 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.

According to information, the Rutgers and Oregon State engineers created highly efficient, flexible, durable and inexpensive heating patches 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 process takes 300 millionths of a second, according to the study funded by the National Science Foundation and Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund.

When compared with the current state of the art in thermal patches, the Rutgers and Oregon State creation generates more heat per patch area and is more durable after bending, washing and exposure to humidity and high temperature.

Next steps include seeing if this method can be used to create 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.



Feature Articles
Below are listed the 12 most recent Feature Articles.
To see the entire list of Feature Articles, visit the Feature Article Archive.
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High-Tech Heating Patches Created
January 2019

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes – while significantly reducing your electric bill and carbon footprint?

Virginia Tech Innovation Campus Helps Attract Amazon
December 2018

Virginia Tech is making a historic commitment to build a revolutionary 1 million-square-foot, technology-focused campus in Alexandria…

Improving Smart-Window Energy Efficiency With Nanoparticles
November 2018

U.S. buildings leak an estimated 30 percent of their energy through inefficient windows, costing consumers an estimated $42 billion annually.

Biosensor Technology For Wearable Devices Invented
October 2018

Engineers have created a smart wristband with a wireless connection to smartphones that will enable a new wave of personal health…

Parker Solar Probe Launched On Historic Journey
September 2018

Hours before the rise of the very star it will study, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched from Florida Sunday, August 12th, to begin its journey to the Sun, where it will undertake a landmark mission.

Possible Treatment Target Identified For Alzheimer’s, Age-related Cognitive Decline
August 2018

Now research from a collaborative team of neuroscientists and engineers at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia is shedding light on the underlying mechanisms of brain aging, along with associated neurological diseases.

New and Improved Version of Phased Array Feed Developed
July 2018

To accelerate the pace of discovery and exploration of the cosmos, a multi-institution team of astronomers and engineers has developed a new and improved version of an unconventional radio-astronomy imaging system…

FIRST® Announces Landmark 2019 Season Theme
June 2018

FIRST ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international K-12 not-for-profit organization founded by prolific inventor Dean Kamen, recently announced that more than 575,000 students will explore space across all four FIRST programs…

Researchers Study Upcycling Manure Into Paper Products
May 2018

It’s likely not the first thing you think of when you see elephant dung, but this material turns out to be an excellent source of cellulose for paper manufacturing…

‘Fog Harp’ Increases Collection Capacity For Clean Water
April 2018

Installing giant nets along hillsides and mountaintops to catch water out of thin air sounds more like folly than science.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Visits Jefferson Lab
March 2018

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on February 21st visited the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab)…

Engineers Week 2018
February 2018

Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), Engineers Week, one of the oldest of America’s professional outreach efforts, celebrates its 67th anniversary in 2018.


Feature Article Archive
 
 
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