We know, I have been saying it for a while too: renewable energy is rapidly growing all over the world, and now it is time to adapt energy storage systems as well. We need creativity, and I must say that we are seeing a lot of it.
In a new study appeared in Buildings magazine, the researchers of the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden they developed a way to make buildings become battery storage facilities, using the same concrete they are made of.
Cement and its cousin concrete are the most widely used building materials in the world, made with powdered and sedimentary compounds that vary in conductivity based on what is mixed.
Structures that conduct electricity
Moist, porous concrete is probably a good conductor. So is, of course, reinforced concrete (also by virtue of its metal core). The result? A whole building leading the energy. A structural battery.
Large-scale energy batteries like this one are a way to store renewable energy during peak production periods (the sunniest part of the day for solar cells or the windiest days for wind turbines) and feed it back into the grid during periods of peak use.
Structural concrete batteries: small, but everywhere
A few months ago, Chalmers published new research on massless structural batteries to power electric cars. Existing research has focused on one-time energy storage in concrete and cement. Yes, storing potential energy for future use is an interesting feature, but concrete has a future also as a rechargeable battery.
The energy per unit volume of concrete is not very large, but we use so much concrete that the small amount of energy adds up quickly.
To make a comparison
Lithium-ion batteries (small, but very powerful) have an energy density about 250 to 350 watt hours per liter (Wh / L). In the new research, Chalmers scientists found a density of suns in concrete 0,8 Wh / L. It is far below almost any existing material that propagates like a battery, but we have so much concrete lying around that there will always be a huge and constant supply to draw from.
In summary, the amount of concrete and concrete construction each year means that even a low energy density concrete battery could have a huge impact on the energy scene.
Buildings could store and discharge enough energy to stabilize occupant power in the event of emergencies or other disruptions.