An interesting topic of battery research is not just how these devices can store energy, but also qualify as structural components. This concept could be used in electric vehicles, and now scientists in Sweden are applying this mode of thinking to large buildings, illustrating a new variety of cement-based battery that could involve big structures built from functional concrete.

The research was conducted at Chalmers University of Technology, where scientists were developing sustainable building materials, with a special focus on concrete. As the globe’s most frequently utilised material and one that is energy intensive to manufacture, we’re seeing research into the manner of which the carbon footprint of concrete could be shrunken, and the authors of this new study have conjured a possible solution.

Much like customary concrete, it begins with a cement-based mixture, but one spiked with small quantities of short carbon fibers to incorporate conductivity and flexural strength. Also mixed in are a couple of carbon fiber meshes, one coated in iron to serve as the battery’s anode and the other coated in nickel to be the cathode. As the battery’s two electrodes, these ferry electrons back and forth as the device is charged and discharged.

This design was determined in the wake of much experimentation, with the team seeking to enhance previous designs for concrete-based batteries, which they state have not tested well. This new rechargeable design is a revolutionary idea, and also seems to be an effective one.

The concrete-based battery was found to have an energy density of 7 Wh per square meter of material, which the team says could prove more than 10 times greater than previous concrete-based batteries. It is, however, still far lower than commercial batteries, but the fact that it is made of concrete, which can be scaled up to form massive structures, could help counter its limited capacity.

The scientists imagine all sorts of uses for their innovative battery design, starting with buildings that can double as energy storage devices. It could power LEDs, supply 4G connections in remote regions, or be coupled with solar panels to power sensors constructed into concrete structures, such as along highways and bridges.

In the future, this technology could permit for entire sections of multi-story structures culled from functional concrete—making volumes of workable concrete, said study author Emma Zhang.

The team notes that this preliminary research, with technical issues to resolve. Still to be configured is the lifespan of the battery, as concrete structures are designed to survive decades or more. So scientists must make this battery last as long, or conjure a means to extract and replace them once they are no longer useful. Yet the possibilities are strong.

Study author Luping Tang has faith that this invention will render future building materials the renewable energy sources.


Source: New Atlas.Com