Energy-storing smart bricks could provide lighting in houses

By Jonathan Campion
Researchers at Washington University in Missouri have developed ‘smart bricks’, which store energy like a battery and can be recharged...

The findings for this study were recently published in the journal Nature Communications. The research is still at the proof-of-concept stage, but the researchers have claimed that the bricks - which are the ordinary red house bricks used in construction, coated with a conductive coating known as Pedot - can store substantial amounts of energy. Researchers estimate that 50 such bricks can store enough energy to power lighting for five hours.

Energy experts have voiced varying opinions about the potential for these smart bricks. The author of the study, Professor Julio D’Arcy, was optimistic, commenting: “Advantageously, a brick wall serving as a supercapacitor can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times within an hour. If you connect a couple of bricks, microelectronics sensors would be easily powered”.

However, Richard McMahon, the professor of power electronics at the University of Warwick, expressed reservations: “The samples that have been made are small and although some indication is given about how they can be made into bigger units it’s obvious that any useful application would require modules, comprising a number of devices, at least the size of a standard brick. Brick is a brittle material and so handling relatively thin sheets for assembly into modules could be an issue”.

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