GreenGlove: A Solar Powered Heated Glove to Help Maintain Comfortable Temperatures
AdvisorLeang, Kam K.
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The product designed by GreenGlove is a heated glove that operates using flexible solar panels. While conventional heated gloves currently on the market rely on battery power to operate, GreenGlove harvests 100 percent of its energy using solar power. Through this, GreenGlove is able to provide a more sustainable alternative to current heated gloves. The use of solar panels eliminates the need for continuous replacement, recharging, and disposal of batteries. This ultimately leads to less waste being dumped in landfills and less inconveniences for the customer. Moreover, the solar panels are extremely lightweight and flexible, thus virtually eliminating any concern of additional weight being added or loss of mobility. This is a key benefit of the gloves, since GreenGlove is then able to eradicate the need for any type of heavy and bulky power storage device. One drawback of this form of power generation is that the power that can be generated is less than the amount battery packs are capable of generating. Therefore, the focus of GreenGlove is to maintain comfortable temperatures in the glove, rather than generate large quantities of heat at high temperatures. By ensuring a comfortable temperature is maintained inside the glove, this product is ideal for frostbite prevention, as well as people with Raynaud’s Disease, which is a condition in which the blood flow to the fingertips is significantly reduced during cold weather. The primary method used to maintain heat is through the addition of a material with exceptionally high insulating properties. Cryogel Aerogel, which when compared to other types of insulation, is significantly more lightweight and has much higher insulating properties. To ensure the heat loss in each finger is minimized, the glove was designed with emphasis on insulating the fingers with large amounts of Aerogel. Within the Aerogel is a weather resistant barrier, implemented to both eliminate any moisture to the hand, as well as block any dust generated by the Aerogel from reaching the hand. Inside the weather barrier, one polyimide heaters is located on the top of each finger on the surface of a cotton inner glove. These heaters are also encircled by the Aerogel, thus ensuring a minimal amount of heat is lost. The ideal power that can be generated by the solar panel design is 0.96 W. Based on a heat transfer analysis of the glove, this amount meets the requirement of maintaining an 80 degree Fahrenheit temperature within the glove. During prototype testing, the maximum power attained was 0.44 W. With this amount of power generation, the temperature inside each finger was raised approximately 7 degrees F. These results were deemed acceptable which verified the effectiveness of the glove’s primary purpose. A market study was also conducted to identify the potential need for the heated glove, and to which demographics the product should be advertised to. Because of the utilization of solar panels as the primary power source, it was determined that increased reflectivity of sunlight due to snow would make the heated glove ideal for use in winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. Additionally, the heated glove may be used in medical applications as a treatment for Raynaud’s Disease and as a better method to combatting the onset of frostbite. A competitive analysis was also performed to compare the solar powered heated glove’s design against products already on the market. The size of the heated glove market is relatively small, with a few companies such as Gerbing Heated Clothing dominating the market. Despite variances in the types of heaters used in these gloves, almost all gloves currently on the market require battery packs, whether rechargeable or replaceable. It is the elimination of these bulky, expensive battery packs that motivates the sustainable, renewable energy aspect of the solar powered heated glove. GreenGlove hopes to expand its market by advertising the solar powered heated glove as a passive device whose novel, passive, low maintenance, sustainable, and environmentally friendly design will justify its relatively high initial cost compared to other heated glove on the market.