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:: OSEL.CZ :: – New concrete technology turns entire buildings into rechargeable batteries

Concrete is a very useful material, although its production is very laborious. It would be nice if concrete offered something a little extra in addition to the structure itself. Thanks to the new rechargeable concrete battery, which can be used in construction like normal concrete, concrete structures can function as large or massive rechargeable batteries.

A revolutionary concrete faucet.  Credit: Yen Strandqvist / Chalmers.

A revolutionary concrete faucet. Credit: Yen Strandqvist / Chalmers.

Batteries are still the Achilles’ heel of a technological civilization. However, at the same time, a number of research teams are working extensively on this and impressive types of batteries are being developed. One of the most promising development trends is structural batteries, which can be incorporated into a variety of designs. Usually these are airplanes, cars, or electronic devices. But as it turns out, more extreme and exciting technologies could emerge.

The Swedish University of Technology’s Chalmers University team has developed a cement-based battery that can be converted into functional concrete that can be built naturally. Concrete battery technology is the answer to the sins of concrete. It is not so much about landscape installation as it is a huge burden on the environment, which is the traditional production of concrete.

Emma Chingnan Chang.  Credit: Chalmers.

Emma Chingnan Chang. Credit: Chalmers.

The production of concrete spout begins with classic cement and other additives. Additionally, smaller amounts of short carbon fibers are added to it, which adds the electrical conductivity and bending strength of the concrete. Two carbon fiber grids are also added to the mixture. One is coated with iron and acts as the positive electrode for the battery, the other is nickel plated and acts as the cathode. This results in a rechargeable, functional battery that can store electricity.

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The new design of the concrete faucet is the result of many experiments during which researchers tried to improve previous types of similar faucets, which unfortunately were not very successful. The result is this design, and preliminary trials indicate that it is promising. It turns out that it has 7 watts of power per square meter of material, which is about ten times more than previous concrete batteries. Compared to commercial batteries, this is still small, but their handicap greatly reduces the fact that it is possible to build large structures from a concrete battery.

The Swedish team concrete faucet offers a lot of interesting applications. Buildings with these batteries, along with suitable solar panels, can supply power to compact LEDs, 4G network stations in remote areas, or to power sensors in large concrete structures such as highways or bridges. Research leader Emma Zhang and her colleagues have a vision of amazing functional concrete structures that store large amounts of energy.

Logo.  Credit: Chalmers.

Logo. Credit: Chalmers.

The development of the concrete spout is still at an early stage. Some technical issues still need to be resolved. For example, concrete battery life will be critical. Concrete structures should last for decades. Therefore the function of rechargeable batteries must be maintained for a long time or can be restored relatively easily. Researchers are optimistic in this regard.


Chalmers University of Technology 17. 5. 2021.

Condominium 11: 103.