Interested in textile interactions and movement, my research has taken a turn into exploring energy harvesting with textiles. Our everyday interactions and manipulations of textiles such as pulling, stretching, turning inside out etc. produce specific kinds of mechanical strains that could be used for harvesting small amounts of electrical energy over time. I am investigating what kind of textile installations in the interior could be introduced for energy harvesting and am curious about the textile practices that could evolve around this. As I continue to develop my conceptual frame within this topic further, I have started doing some low-tech energy harvesting experiments with off-the-shelf piezoelectric components and material explorations with home-grown piezoelectric crystals.

Ceramic piezoelectric elements can be bought in regular electronic shops. The video below shows the working of a basic energy-harvesting circuit. Tapping the piezo electric element generates electrical potential which is used to light the LEDs.

Growing piezo-electric crystals (Rochelle salt)

Following the recipes found online (for e.g. here, and here), I grew a couple of batches of piezoelectric crystals. I found that introducing a textile substrate during the crystal formation process, enables the crystals to be formed around the textile. Below are some images from the initial trials. I plan to continue these experimentations further to investigate the opportunities of growing piezoelectric crystals on textiles. While the crystals themselves are quite brittle, growing them on conductive fabrics could be a way to connect and support them.

The material explorations help to further develop my research question around energy harvesting and textiles. What kind of everyday practices do they relate to? How can energy harvesting and textiles encourage movement and engagement with interior spaces?


Posted by:Ramyah Gowrishankar

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