Researchers at University of South Carolina have found a way to turn an ordinary cotton t-shirt into a “…stable, high-performing supercapacitor” which stores electrical energy.
The process involved buying a t-shirt from a discount store, soaking it in a fluoride solution and baking it in an oxygen-free oven, a process which converts the fibers of the fabric from cellulose into activated carbon while allowing the shirt to retain its flexibility.
The team, headed by USC’s Xiaodong Li, calls this fabric activated carbon textile and they have turned small sections of the shirt into electrodes, confirming that it acts as a double-layer capacitor. They have further enhanced its storage capacity with “nanoflowers” of manganese oxide, creating something able to withstand “…thousands of charge-discharge cycles.”
Li said, “By stacking these supercapacitors up, we should be able to charge portable electronic devices such as cell phones.”