Power your laptop with your curtains

Garnering solar-power from curtains could soon be a reality
Garnering solar-power from curtains could soon be a reality

A professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has turned interior designer for her latest project and has set about powering electrical goods from, er, curtains.

Sheila Kennedy, who works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes that 'solar textiles' could be the next big thing in power sources.

She has developed what is called 'soft power' from thin-film photovoltaic material, a fabric that is just like cloth but does the job of a solar panel.

Curtain raiser

Speaking to CNN, the professor had this to say about the material: "These are materials which can be prepared in the chemistry lab or can be found in nature. They produce electricity when exposed to light. They are very efficient and flexible.

"From a technical view, the thin-film has the potential to be produced in very high volumes, with a very low embodied energy and a low carbon footprint.

"These new photovoltaic materials can be produced in the same way one might print and produce a newspaper, roll to roll. That can make it very affordable."

She goes on to calculate that just by covering just 10 per cent of a roof area in Porto, Portugal, 'solar curtains' could provide as much as 70 per cent of a house's electricity.

Not sure how that calculates in good ol' rainy and cloudy Blighty, but the proposition of garnering power from things like curtains is definitely an intriguing one.

A prototype of the solar curtains are hanging in the Vitra Design Museum in Essen, Germany, now as part of the museum's futuristic home project, titled 'Soft House'.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.