Since the new “supercapacitor” concrete would retain its strength, a house with a foundation made of this material could store a day’s worth of energy produced by solar panels or windmills, and allow it to be used whenever it’s needed. Credit: Franz-Josef Ulm, Admir Masic and Yang-Shao Horn

A new cost-effective and efficient supercapacitor made from carbon black and cement could store a day’s worth of energy in the concrete foundation of a building or provide contactless recharging for electric cars as they travel across it. The device could also facilitate the use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and tidal power, according to the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Wyss Institute, both in the US, who developed it.

Supercapacitors are technically known as electric double-layer or electrochemical capacitors, and their capabilities fall somewhere between those of batteries and conventional (dielectric) capacitors. Though less good at storing charge than batteries, supercapacitors are better than conventional capacitors in this respect thanks to their porous electrodes, which have surface areas as […]

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