A Power-Storage Brick Can Power LED Lights

A Power-Storage Brick Can Power LED Lights

Scientists at Washington University in St Louis, have figured out how to turn standard bricks into energy storage devices. The bricks are capable of storing energy to power LED lights, they report in Nature Communications.

The bricks are coated with PEDOT, a special type of plastic nanofiber that acts as an electrical conductor. They can charge and discharge quickly.

Energy storage

Bricks have been an important building material for thousands of years. From Neolithic dwellings to ranch-style houses to modern McMansions, bricks are a familiar sight in our cities and countryside. Now, scientists have found a way to make standard bricks power-storage-brick into energy storage devices that can power LED lights. While the results are still in a preliminary stage, the technology is promising and could eventually be used to store renewable energy for homes and businesses.

The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, was conducted by chemists at Washington University in St. Louis. They discovered that the red pigment in bricks contains iron oxide, which can be oxidized to create a polymer that conducts electricity. This polymer coating penetrates the brick’s pores and serves as an ion sponge to store electrical charge. They also created a gel electrolyte to bind the two brick electrodes together and encased the device in an epoxy coating.

The system is easy to use and requires no complex machinery or materials. The bricks are raised by gravity when excess wind or solar energy is available and then lowered to generate electricity when the need arises. The company that has developed this concept, called Energy Vault, has already secured more than $100 million in funding. Its bold plan illustrates that renewable energy doesn’t have to be expensive or environmentally damaging.

Lighting

Bricks have been a favorite building material for centuries, from Neolithic dwellings to ranch-style homes and modern McMansions. Now, researchers have developed a way to use them to store energy, similar to a battery. Their proof-of-concept is described in the journal Nature Communications.

The scientists began by buying armfuls of 65-cent red bricks from a hardware store and bringing them to the lab, where they pumped them with various gases. This caused the iron oxide in the bricks to oxidize, which then triggered a chemical reaction that coated the bricks with a layer of PEDOT, or poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene). The result is a brick wall riddled with a network of microscopic plastic fibers capable of conducting electricity.

To test the bricks, D’Arcy’s team attached copper leads to the bricks and connected them to a battery. The coated bricks were able to power a green LED light for about 10 minutes on one charge. The bricks can also be recharged over 10,000 times without losing more than 10% of their capacitance.

The research is still in its early stages, but it could open new possibilities for storing energy. The researchers hope that they can scale the technology and make it more affordable. Eventually, they would like to see it used in buildings that capture solar power. However, there are a few obstacles that need to be overcome before this happens.

Powering devices

Bricks, the world’s cheapest and most familiar building material, can be turned into energy storage units that hold electricity, like a battery. Washington University chemists have demonstrated that the traditional red brick can be transformed into a type of energy storage called a supercapacitor. Their proof-of-concept study shows a brick directly powering a green LED light.

To turn the bricks into supercapacitors, the researchers pumped a series of chemicals through their maze of pores. First, they pumped hydrochloric acid vapors through the brick’s pores, which dissolves iron oxide to release ferric ions. They then pumped in a monomer vapor that polymerizes to make a conductive polymer, known as PEDOT, around the ferric ions. The result is a film that coats the brick’s surface and turns it from its usual red color to dark blue.

The resulting bricks can store enough energy to power a small LED light, and the team plans to increase their energy density by tenfold. However, they will not be suitable for load-bearing walls, as the process of making them conductive could weaken their structural integrity. British chemists not involved in the research have warned that it will be a long time before we see these bricks on the market.

In the future, researchers plan to add other materials into the bricks, allowing them to perform more functions. They may also be used to create a more energy-efficient building, by storing thermal energy and releasing it when needed.

Cost

Bricks may not seem like an energy storage medium, but they can be a cheap way to store wind or solar power for generating electricity at different times. This is especially important when your home or business is subject to demand charges or tariffs based on the time of day that you consume electricity. Energy storage systems can help you avoid these charges and save money.

The bricks are made of earth-abundant materials, including silica SiO2, alumina Al2O3, and haematite Fe2O3. They are also easy to manufacture, unlike many other battery technologies, which require rare materials such as cobalt and lithium. The bricks are infused with an organic monomer that reacts with the alumina and iron Lithium battery 48v 100ah to form a nanoporous network of electrically conducting polymer. This network coats the brick’s internal pore walls, which increases its capacity to conduct electricity.

The system can be used to store energy for several days and is designed to achieve market-leading energy density. It is also suitable for industrial applications, such as reducing the amount of coal that is needed in blast furnaces to decarbonize steel production. It can even be a cheaper alternative to traditional thermal storage. In fact, a brick storage system could be economically competitive for storing electricity for off-grid use, which would make it possible to bypass costly interconnection fees and demand charges.

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