Researchers link bricks’ energy storage capacity to pigments, polymers

Sources: Washington University, St. Louis; CP staff

Looking beyond unit masonry’s long-recognized thermal mass attributes, a Washington University faculty and graduate student team describes in a new study how to tap the electric energy-storing potential of iron oxide-bearing brick. 

CC081220 Brick
A proof-of-concept brick directly powering an LED light accompanies the Washington University team’s report. PHOTO: D’Arcy Laboratory

“We have developed a coating of the conducting polymer PEDOT, which is comprised of nanofibers that penetrate the inner porous network of a brick; a polymer coating remains trapped in a brick and serves as an ion sponge that stores and conducts electricity,” says Assistant Professor of Chemistry Julio D’Arcy. “PEDOT-coated bricks are ideal building blocks that can provide power to emergency lighting. We envision this could be a reality when you connect our bricks with solar cells. 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.”

Along with graduate student Hongmin Wang, he and colleagues published “Energy storing bricks for stationary PEDOT supercapacitors,” in the August 11 edition of the Springer Nature journal, Nature Communications