New heat-storage material may end your winter blues

New heat-storage material may end your winter blues

In what may be a solution for your cold-weather woes, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), through a new heat-storing material, claim to have prepared a dress that could release heat to keep you warm during the winter months.

The heat could be stored by the newly developed dress material, a transparent polymer film, which can capture solar energy and then release it at a later stage triggered by different stimuli.

This discovery could be followed by several kinds of applications soon. Let aside warm clothing, one could even imagine blanketing a house in this type of material, which would release heat and maintain desirable temperature when one desires.

So far, scientists had only been focusing on harnessing solar energy. But, this medium has its limitations during night hours or when the sky is overcast.

The researchers have explained their “fairly simple” heat formula, which involves chemical reactions, in an article published in the Advanced Energy Materials journal.

The secret behind the discovery are azobenzenes molecules with two different configurations. When the transparent polymer film is exposed to sunlight, the molecules become charged with solar energy. This configuration can be stably maintained for a prolonged period of time. The molecules can release heat burst which reach up to 10 degrees Celsius above the environmental temperature.

“However, a number of stimuli triggers the shift to a different configuration. When the solar energy charged molecules are exposed to a specific temperature for instance, they return to their original configuration. In the process, the azobenzenes molecules also release heat”, said researchers.

Graduate student Eugene Cho, one of the researchers, said the system is based on previous work that was aimed at developing a solar cooker that could store solar heat for cooking after sundown but there were challenges with that.

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