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Imagine an entire twenty-story concrete building that can store energy like a giant battery. Thanks to unique research from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, such a vision could someday be a reality. Researchers from the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering recently published an article outlining a new concept for rechargeable batteries — made of cement. The ever-growing need for sustainable building materials poses great challenges for researchers. Doctor Emma Zhang, formerly of Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, joined Professor Luping Tang’s research group several years ago to search for the building materials of the future. Together they have now succeeded in developing a world-first concept for a rechargeable cement-based battery. The concept involves first a cement-based mixture, with small amounts of short carbon fibers added to increase the conductivity and flexural toughness. Then, embedded within the mixture is a metal-coated carbon-fiber mesh — iron for the anode, and nickel for the cathode. After much experimentation, this is the prototype which the researchers now present.

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