The first rechargeable cement-based batteries

A new type of cement battery could be directly integrated into the structure of buildings and roads, which would then turn into giant accumulators

Connected buildings are becoming more and more intelligent, integrating ever-increasing networks of connected objects and even paintings or wallpaper capable of transforming walls into tactile elements. Researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden wanted to go even further, transforming the walls into batteries.

In an article published in the journal Advanced Concrete Materials in Construction, they detail the prototype of a new cement-based battery. They incorporated carbon fibres into the cement to increase the conductivity of the material, then placed a carbon fibre mesh in the mixture, coated with an iron layer for the anode or nickel for the cathode.

Significant storage capacity brought back to building scale

Previous studies had already explored this type of battery, but the performance was too low. This new prototype increases energy density tenfold, reaching 7 watt hours per square meter or 0.8 watt hours per litre, in addition to being rechargeable. The capacity remains very low compared to a standard battery, but becomes very interesting at the scale of a building.

The researchers imagine that this functional cement could be used in buildings as well as roads and other structures to power lights, monitoring systems, 4G connections, provide cathodic protection against corrosion, and of course be connected to solar panels to provide a massive energy storage system. They will, however, have to overcome a few technical obstacles before they consider marketing. These batteries will have to last between 50 and 100 years, the life of a concrete building, or be easily changed.

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