Oregon Patent of the Month – November 2020

Wouldn’t it be nice if your sweater worked to cool you down after you exercised? Or for your clothes to actively warm you up when stuck in a cold environment? Nike, Inc. has been working on thermoregulated apparel to make your clothes work harder at keeping your body temperature in check.

The clothing itself will just be a part of a system designed to regulate your temperature and either actively heat you up or cool you down. This system would also require thermoelectric modules (TEM) to transfer heat from one side to the other – against the temperature gradient. This TEM would use voltage differentials to provide the power to transfer heat from one side to the other – which could either cool or heat the wearer. When heat is moving to the outside (away from the wearer) it needs to be released – and this is where most thermoregulatory apparel has struggled before. Nike’s design would actually use the wearer’s sweat to evaporate heat out of the system.

In an example of cooling you down; the TEM begins with the ‘cool’ surface of the TEM facing your skin and the ‘hot’ surface facing outward. As you exercise, you produce heat and sweat. This heat and sweat heats up the cool surface of the TEM and reverses the polarity so that the heat gets pulled through to the outside – cooling you down – and uses your sweat to evaporate out.

Nike believes this could help athletes, firefighters, military personnel and so on but the possibilities are pretty extensive. 

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