New research conducted by a group of scientists from Washington University in St. Louis, on common red bricks, has revealed the potential of this inexpensive building material to store energy.
Nature, the scientific journal published its research shedding light on ‘fired bricks,’ which are chemically processed to become supercapacitors that can hold enough energy to light an LED lamp.
Supercapacitors are electrical devices that are used to store a large amount of electrical charge.
Although the research is at its early stages, the bricks are found to have far-reaching potential. Since bricks are the building blocks of any construction, a large amount of space it occupies can be utilized for storing energy.
The research team developed a conducting polymer poly (3,4-ethylene-dioxythiophene), called- PEDOT- and coated the bricks with it. The nanofibers in the polymer seep into the porous brick where the coating is trapped. This coating stores and conducts electricity.
The research focuses on red bricks as it contains iron oxide (rust), which triggers the polymerization reaction. The red color of a brick originates from hematite, a pigment, and serves as a low-cost naturally abundant inorganic precursor for catalysts, magnets, and alloys.
The bricks can also be made waterproof by using a five-minute epoxy which enables the operation of the supercapacitors while submerged underwater and a gel electrolyte extend cycling stability to 10,000 cycles with ~90% capacitance retention.
The research team claims that a brick wall supercapacitor can be charged several times within an hour. According to the team, when 50 bricks are connected with solar panels, it can provide emergency lighting for five hours.
Mercom had earlier reported the design of a new carbon nanostructure made from diamond nano threads that could be used for mechanical energy storage, wearable technologies, and biomedical applications.
Researchers at Drexel University have come up with a new class of materials that could store electrical energy very quickly called MXene, which is two-dimensional titanium carbide.
Researchers at IBM Research have also announced a new battery that could help eliminate the use of heavy metals in battery production, and this could lead to a paradigm shift in the long-term sustainability of many elements in our energy ecosystem. Generally, heavy metals like nickel and cobalt are used in batteries, which pose a severe threat to our environment and are hazardous.