Deep Dives

MIT finds potential energy storage method in cement

August 6, 2023
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MIT researchers have developed a supercapacitor using cement and carbon black, potentially allowing homes to store a day's worth of energy in their foundation. This innovative blend could also power electric cars wirelessly through roads or store energy for windmills in their base.

Combining Cement and Carbon:
  • MIT researchers mixed cement, carbon black, and water to create a supercapacitor.
  • This mix could let a house store energy in its foundation or roads to wirelessly power electric cars.
  • Windmills could also store generated energy within their base using this material.
  • The combination utilizes cement, a widely-used material, and carbon black, which has historical significance.

  • Supercapacity:
  • The study was published in the journal PNAS, detailing the vision behind the material.
  • While batteries and capacitors both store energy, they do so differently; capacitors release energy in bursts.
  • Supercapacitors release energy faster than batteries but can't release it as slowly as lithium-ion batteries.
  • The cement-based material developed has a high internal surface area with multiple layers of conductive materials.
  • After soaking in a salt solution, this material can function as a robust supercapacitor.

  • Unlimited Power:
  • The supercapacitor mixture needs just 3% of carbon per volume to form a network of carbon connections.
  • A block measuring about 1,600 cubic feet could store the average daily energy usage of a household.
  • In experiments, a small 1-volt supercapacitor was made, which, when multiplied by three, could power LEDs.
  • The team is further experimenting to refine the mixture for optimizing energy storage and release.
  • Concerns about the material's durability in various conditions and its long-term stability remain.

  • Conclusion:
  • This breakthrough provides an exciting new application for a material (cement) that has been in use for millennia.
  • Further research and exploration on cement's potential for energy storage are anticipated.

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