This prototype opens new horizons for storing energy

Researchers at Chalmers University in Sweden suggest storing energy directly in the walls of a building. The team developed a promising prototype. Obviously, it offers significantly lower yields than conventional batteries, but the potential for using this system on large volumes of buildings opens up interesting prospects.

Cement is poor performance in terms of carbon dioxide emissions2 Making it, which requires the use of powerful ovens, generates a lot of it. Thanks to the work of researchers at Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), cement could nevertheless become a link in a greener energy circuit.

Dr. Emma Zhang and Professor Loping Tang had already revealed on May 18th a prototype of a cement-based battery was more efficient than previously thought possible. ” Previous research results on concrete batteries showed very poor performance. We understood that we had to think outside the box and find another way to produce the electrodes. “Emma Chang explains In a press release.

Buildings (like the one here in New York) can store energy in their walls with this battery. Source: Khans / Flickr

Turn building walls into a battery

The system the team developed has three layers. The first cathode layer is a cement-based mixture and includes a nickel-coated carbon fiber mesh. The second is designed in exactly the same way, but acts as an anode thanks to the carbon fiber mesh this time covered in iron. These two layers surround a third, more traditional layer of cement that acts as a separator.

The cement based battery obtained in this way displays an average energy density of 7 watt-hours per square meter (or 0.8 watt-hours per liter). Based on their lower estimates, the team expects ten times better performance than previous cement batteries.

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Scientists agree that the energy density is “low” when compared to commercial batteries. However, this disadvantage, according to them, can be compensated for by the huge volumes of batteries that can be installed during the construction of buildings. ” It will be possible to incorporate this electrode layer onto any concrete surface. So we are talking about huge volumes , Argues Emma Zhang.

The commercialization of a cement-based battery is not at the moment: what the Chalmers University team is revealing here is evidence of the concept, in other words, proof that this realization is possible. Several technological challenges have yet to be overcome before this solution can be contemplated. ” Concrete buildings are generally designed to last 50 or even 100 years. Therefore, batteries should have a similar service life, or be easy to replace and recycle. All this poses a huge technical challenge. Emma Chang explains.

Provide 4G connection or LED lights for energy

If the team can achieve this, these innovative batteries could break ground in terms of energy storage. Scientists also highlight the fact that these systems can be used to power LED lights, provide 4G connections in remote areas, or even present Cathodic protection Against corrosion. It will also be possible to connect these batteries with solar panels, in order to provide sensors that control the good condition of infrastructures such as bridges or highways.

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