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Concrete that Could charge your phone

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Concrete is everywhere in the world, but now it could help power our homes.

In a lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, black concrete blocks are hooked up to an LED light. When Damian Stefaniuk flips a switch, the light turns on. This concrete, made from water, cement, and carbon black, is a new kind of energy storage device called a supercapacitor.

Supercapacitors store energy differently than batteries. They charge quickly and don’t degrade as fast but release power rapidly. Stefaniuk and his team at MIT and Harvard University hope to use these supercapacitors in innovative ways. One idea is to create roads that charge electric cars as they drive. Another idea is to make house foundations that store energy.

Right now, a cubic meter of this concrete can power a 10-watt LED for 30 hours. It may seem small, but a large concrete foundation could meet a home’s daily energy needs. Cement production does cause a lot of carbon emissions, but the researchers are looking for ways to make it more eco-friendly.

Stefaniuk’s supercapacitor works because carbon black is very conductive. When mixed with cement and water, it creates a network that can store energy. This new technology could store renewable energy from sources like the Sun and wind, helping to reduce pressure on the energy grid when these sources aren’t available.

Although still in early stages, this energy-storing concrete has the potential to be part of the solution for a cleaner future. The researchers are working on making it stronger and more efficient. They aim to build larger versions to power homes and other structures, showing promise for a world where buildings themselves contribute to clean energy.

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