Concrete is the most widely consumed material in the world after water. Now, researchers have been exploring how it can be used to store electricity to eventually transform concrete buildings into rechargeable batteries that we live and work in. The engineers from Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology demonstrated a prototype concrete battery that holds 10 times more power than previous approaches, you'd need 200 square meters of concrete batter to "provide about 8 percent of [a typical home's] daily electricity consumption," says researcher Emma Zhang. From Scientific American:
She and her colleagues mimicked the design of simple but long-lasting Edison batteries, in which an electrolyte solution carries ions between positively charged nickel plates and negatively charged iron ones, creating an electrical potential that produces voltage. In this case, the researchers mixed conductive carbon fibers into cement (a main ingredient of concrete) to substitute for the electrolyte. They also embedded layers of a carbon-fiber mesh, coated in either nickel or iron, to act as the plates.