Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have unveiled a new way to store significant amounts of energy using an unexpected material: cement.
This innovation could potentially transform the landscape of renewable energy storage and provide a more sustainable alternative to traditional methods.
The MIT team, led by Professor Admir Masic, has successfully created a supercapacitor by combining cement – the essential component of concrete – with carbon black, a fine charcoal product. This mixture, when combined with water and soaked in a special salt solution, exhibits remarkable energy storage capabilities that could revolutionize the way we power our homes and vehicles.
Unlike conventional batteries or capacitors that store energy through chemical reactions or electrostatic fields, the cement-based supercapacitor offers a unique approach. Its internal structure, consisting of multiple layers of conductive materials, provides an exceptionally high surface area that allows it to store and release energy quickly.
One of the most exciting prospects is the possibility of storing a whole day's worth of energy in the foundation of a house. Such a concept eliminates traditional methods of energy storage and reduces the need for rare earth metals, which are often used in the production of batteries. In addition, roads built with this innovative material may be able to wirelessly power electric vehicles, and windmills may be able to store excess energy in their foundations.
"It's fascinating because you have the most-used manmade material in the world, cement, combined with carbon black – a material with historical significance," explained Professor Admir Masic. This unexpected fusion of ancient and modern materials has opened up new possibilities in energy storage.
Despite the huge potential of cement-based energy storage, challenges remain. Issues related to durability, resistance to adverse weather conditions, and the long-term effects of erosion need to be addressed. Despite these uncertainties, MIT scientists believe they are on the verge of a significant breakthrough that could change the renewable energy landscape.
The recent findings were published in the journal PNAS.