A conceptual battery made from cement has been developed by researchers from the Department of Architecture and engineering at Chalmers University of Technology that would be wont to build smart-cities.
The battery might be used to power LEDs, providing 4G connections in remote areas, or cathodic protection against corrosion.
Coupled with solar panels, it could become the energy source for monitoring systems in highways or bridges – detecting cracks and other damage.
The battery would be built from a cement-based mixture with small amounts of carbon fibres added to extend its conductivity and skill to flex without breaking. Embedded within the mixture would be a metal-coated carbon fibre mesh, made up of iron for the anode and nickel for the cathode.
“Results from earlier studies investigating concrete battery technology showed very low performance, so we realised we had to plan of the box, to rcome up with different way to produce’ the electrode. This particular concept we’ve developed – which is additionally rechargeable – has never been explored before. Now we’ve proof of concept at lab scale,” Dr Emma Zhang said.
The researchers believe that batteries made up of the world’s commonest building material could offer an alternate solution to the energy crisis, due to what proportion power might be stored within the concrete cells.
“We have a vision that in future this technology could leave whole sections of multi-storey buildings made from functional concrete. Considering that any concrete surface could have a layer of this electrode embedded, we are talking about enormous volumes of functional concrete”, says Dr Zhang.
“Since concrete infrastructure is typically built to last 50 or maybe 100 years, the batteries would wish to be refined to match this, or to be easier to exchange and recycle when their service life is over. For now, this offers a serious challenge from a technical point of view.”
The research was published in the scientific journal Buildings.