The functions of concrete, used for construction and architecture, are becoming diversified under technological evolution. The Chalmers University of Technology managed to produce storage batteries using cement based on the idea of “battery structure”, which not only provides a shelter from the wind and rain for the building, but also transforms it into an energy storage system.
The Chalmers University of Technology believes that batteries not only store energy, but can also be used as structural components for buildings. The research team added 0.5% of short-sized carbon fibers within the cement mixture to elevate electrical conductivity and bending strength, then assimilated a pair of “electrodes”, which are the iron carbon fiber mesh that serves as the anode, and the carbon fiber cathode coated with nickel, where electrons are free to move between the two ends.
This is not the first time for the research team in conducting a concrete battery experiment. After refinement, the latest concrete battery contains a 7Wh/m2 of energy density, which is more than 10 times the amount before. Although the energy density is much lower than traditional commercial batteries, this research is not a competition, and that the research team believes that this particular design may replenish the insufficient energy density when it is enlarged to an extensive structure.
Concrete battery can be regarded as an unprecedented concept in the world. Emma Zhan, research author, believes that the invention can not only be applied on energy storage buildings, but also lights up LED, facilitates 4G deployment, installs solar panels, or supplies electricity for detection sensors on highways and bridges. Zhan hopes that future technology allows multi-functional concrete to construct multi-layered buildings, and start to image the prospect of multi-function concrete after taking into account the possibility of electrode establishment on the surface of any concrete.
However, this specific technology is still in the preliminary concept phase, and must resolve issues such as battery lifespan and recycling, before commercialization, where scientists must extend the lifespan of the battery, or ponder on the methods for battery replacement, since the lifespan of concrete is usually decades. Luping Tang, research author, commented that this concept is able to infuse additional functions for future construction materials, and contribute to renewable energy systems.
(Cover photo source: Chalmers University of Technology)