New electricity-storing concrete could turn entire homes into batteries

“If scaled up, this technology could help solve an important problem – renewable energy storage.”

A specific idea

MIT researchers have developed a new way to store energy in modified concrete, providing a tantalizing potential solution to the looming energy storage problem.

as BBC reports, MIT researcher Damian Stefaniuk and his colleagues turned a mixture of water, cement and soot – a highly conductive material used in the production of car tires – into a supercapacitor.

Although supercapacitors are not as good at long-term energy storage compared to lithium-ion batteries, they can be charged and discharged very quickly, making them an intriguing complement to conventional batteries.

Stefaniuk and his team believe their novel material could be a game-changer by relieving pressure on the electrical grid by providing a way to store green energy, the production of which can fluctuate significantly throughout the day.

“If it can be scaled up, this technology could help solve an important problem – renewable energy storage,” he said BBC.

Laying the foundations

There are many potential applications. For example, roads built using an unusual carbon-cement supercapacitor could quickly charge cars wirelessly, reducing their dependence on conventional chargers.

More intriguingly, cement can be used as a building material — “to create walls, foundations or columns that not only support the structure but also store energy within them,” Stefaniuk said. BBC.

However, this technology is still in its infancy. For now, their proof-of-concept supercapacitor can store enough energy to power a 10-watt LED for 30 hours.

Because supercapacitors also tend to discharge very quickly and have much lower energy density than their lithium-ion counterparts, the team still has many hurdles to overcome.

Nevertheless, Stefaniuk claims that once scaled up, such a material could “meet the daily energy needs of a residential home.” The team already plans to build a 1,590-cubic-foot version that can do just that.

But that’s easier said than done.

“Often new discoveries become problematic when considering moving from laboratory or laboratory scale to broader application on a larger scale and in larger quantities,” said Michael Short, professor of engineering at the University of Teesside. BBC. “This may be due to the complexity of production, resource shortages, and sometimes the underlying physics or chemistry.”

More about concrete: Scientists say the new material could suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere faster than trees