High-Tech Fabric to Keep You Warm?

 In Naturopathic News

Node Smith, ND

A team of researchers from Rutgers and Oregon State University have developed a high-tech flexible patch that can be sewn into clothing in order to actually heat you up. The patches are thin, durable heating units, that can be made rather inexpensively.

Patches powered by coin batteries and capable of generating heat in areas of the human body

The engineers who developed the patches used intense pulses of light to fuse tiny silver filaments with polyester. The patches are powered by coin batteries and are capable of generating heat in areas that the human body naturally needs it, and can be sewn into clothing as patches.

Development of patches a strategic answer to the need for more energy resources

The development of these patches is a strategic answer to the global need for more and more energy resources. More and more energy is used to heat buildings, instead of selectively heating people.

47 percent of global energy utilized to heat buildings, with nearly half wasted on empty space

It has been estimated that up to 47 percent of global energy is utilized to heat buildings, and that almost half of this energy is wasted on empty space that is not actually being used.

Patches more durable after bending, washing and exposure to humidity and high temperature

“Personal thermal management” is a new concept of focusing on heating the human body as a potential solution to the energy crisis. It also has potential application for those working or playing outdoors.

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.

Creation generates more heat per patch area

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.


Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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