Researchers at Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering of Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, published an article outlining a new concept for rechargeable batteries made of cement.

Imagine an entire 20-storey concrete building that can store energy like a giant battery. The concept involves a cement-based mixture with small amounts of short carbon fibres added to increase the conductivity and flexural toughness. Embedded within the mixture is a metal-coated carbon fibre mesh—iron for the anode, and nickel for the cathode. After much experimentation, this is the prototype the researchers now present.

Challenges remain with service-life aspects: The idea is still at a very early stage. The technical questions remaining to be solved before commercialisation of the technique include extending the service life of the battery and the development of recycling techniques. “Since concrete infrastructure is usually built to last 50 or even 100 years, the batteries would need 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 major challenge from a technical point of view,” says Emma Zhang.

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