Girl with heating coating on gloves

Heating coating will warm your clothing

Winter is coming. Thankfully, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) have been working hard on a heating coating so no matter the temperature your clothes will keep you warm. This new coating contains a metal-free conductive polymer which allows for low-voltage heat generation. It can electrically heat up any piece of fabric with just 3 volts (small battery or USB power bank). It’s even water and sweat proof!

The technology behind conductive polymers

The conducting polymer poly (3,4-ethylenedioxytiophene), also known as PEDOT is a hydrophobic nano coating and works on a technology called Joule heating. Professor Trish Andrew says:

“When voltage is supplied to the conducting polymer-coated fabrics or fibers, current passing through the polymer generates heat, which is then retained by the underlying fiber/fabric.”

To demonstrate how it works, the team of UMass coated one layer on a pair of cotton gloves. A very small battery of 1.8 grams provided the power source. The coating demonstrated keeping the fingers warm for up to eight hours!

Other uses of this special heating coating

This new development on the heat conductive coating front could allow people whose jobs take them outside into the cold to work more comfortably, and could even function in medical heat therapy, rehabilitation, joint pain relief, and as an alternative to traditional approaches to personal thermal management. Professor Andrews said:

“In addition to keeping someone’s fingers warm for up to eight hours, the coating also is rugged and can retain conductivity after multiple laundering cycles and ironing.”

This means sweaty clothes, foul weather and humid conditions will not affect the conductivity.

Commercial availability in the UK

So will this heating coating be available this winter to keep our hands (and hopefully feet) warm? The UMass team is working hard to commercialize the heating coating, while working on even more innovative electronic devices. These include touch-sensitive textiles that can be used to interact with various display consoles, smart braces that quantify joint motion, and ECG-enabled undergarments for remote health monitoring. Unfortunately an official launch date for the heating coating has not yet been announced.

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