Smart net zero energy structures: New cement allows concrete to generate electricity
In South Korea, mechanical and civil engineering researchers from Incheon National University, Korea University and Kyung Hee University have developed a cement-based conductive composite made of carbon fibre, CBC, as a triboelectric nanogenerator, which is a kind of mechanical energy sensor.
This composite can be used in concrete to build structures that have the ability to generate and store electricity, through exposure to external mechanical energy sources such as wind, waves, rain and even footsteps.
As buildings are currently one of the world’s largest energy consumers and carbon emitters, turning them into energy sources will help combat the problem of buildings which consume over 40% of the world’s energy.
Beyond generating and storing energy, the material can be used to design a self-sensing system to monitor the condition and predict the remaining life of concrete structures without the need for an external power supply.
Building users need not fear the risk of electrocution. Tests have shown that a 1% volume of conductive carbon fibre in a cement mix is sufficient to give the mix the desired electrical properties without compromising structural performance and that the current generated is well below the maximum permissible level for the human body.
The researchers’ goal was to develop materials that improve people’s lives, requiring no additional energy to save the planet. Hoping to extend the applicability of CBC as an all-in-one energy material for net-zero energy structures.
For more information, the results of their research were published in the journal Nano Energy.