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科学美国人60秒:砖块可以变电池

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Bricks Can Be Turned into Batteries

砖块可以变电池

Bricks are one of the oldest known building materials, dating back thousands of years.

砖是已知的最古老的建筑材料之一,它可以追溯到几千年前。

But researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have found a new use for bricks: as energy storage units. A team of engineers and chemists have found a way to transform an ordinary house brick into a pseudo-battery—allowing it to conduct and store electricity.

但是圣路易斯华盛顿大学的研究人员发现了砖块的一种新用途:作为能源存储单元。由工程师和化学家组成的团队已经找到了一种方法,将普通的房屋砖块转变成一种伪电池,用于导电和储存电力。

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The bricks are powerful enough to illuminate an LED light bulb and cost only about $3 to make.

这种砖的能量足以点亮一个LED灯泡,但制作成本仅为3美元。

“I love the idea of adding value to things that are inexpensive, things that are affordable, things that we kind of take for granted.”

“我喜欢给那些能负担起的、不贵的东西增加价值,我认为那是理所应当的。”

Julio D’Arcy is an assistant professor of chemistry at Washington University and one of the researchers on this project.

胡里奥·达西是华盛顿大学的化学助理教授,也是这个项目的研究人员之一。

The brick battery relies on the reddish pigment known as iron oxide, or rust, that gives red bricks their color. The scientists pumped the bricks with several gases that react with iron oxide to produce a network of plastic fibers. These microscopic fibers coat the empty spaces inside the bricks—and conduct electricity.

砖电池依靠红色的色素氧化铁,或铁锈,使红砖着色。科学家们向砖块中泵入几种气体,这些气体与氧化铁发生反应,产生一种塑料纤维网络。这些微小的纤维覆盖在砖内的空隙上,并进行导电。

“What we’re trying to do is: we’re trying to make specialized plastics that are only used on the nanoscale—where we use very little of the plastic, and we can actually embed that plastic inside construction materials”)

“我们正在尝试做的是:尝试制造专门用于纳米级的塑料——我们使用的塑料很少,而且实际上可以将塑料嵌入建筑材料中。”)

The study is in the journal Nature Communications.

这项研究发表在《自然通讯》杂志上。

In the future, D’Arcy says,a brick wall could potentially serve a dual purpose: providing structural support and storing electricity

Darcy说,在未来,砖墙可能有双重用途:提供结构支撑并存储太阳能板等可再生能源产生的电能。

The technology is still at least a few years away from being ready for the commercial market. And right now the energy storage capacity of the bricks is still pretty low—about 1 percent of a lithium ion battery. But the team is now testing ways to improve brick performance—because it looks like you can teach an old brick new tricks.

这项技术投入商业市场至少还需要几年的时间。而现在砖块的储能能力仍然很低——大约是锂离子电池的1%。但是团队现在正在测试提高砖块性能的方法——因为你可以教一些老砖块一些新办法。

Bricks Can Be Turned into Batteries

Bricks are one of the oldest known building materials, dating back thousands of years.

But researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have found a new use for bricks: as energy storage units. A team of engineers and chemists have found a way to transform an ordinary house brick into a pseudo-battery—allowing it to conduct and store electricity.

The bricks are powerful enough to illuminate an LED light bulb and cost only about $3 to make.

“I love the idea of adding value to things that are inexpensive, things that are affordable, things that we kind of take for granted.”

Julio D’Arcy is an assistant professor of chemistry at Washington University and one of the researchers on this project.

The brick battery relies on the reddish pigment known as iron oxide, or rust, that gives red bricks their color. The scientists pumped the bricks with several gases that react with iron oxide to produce a network of plastic fibers. These microscopic fibers coat the empty spaces inside the bricks—and conduct electricity.

“What we’re trying to do is: we’re trying to make specialized plastics that are only used on the nanoscale—where we use very little of the plastic, and we can actually embed that plastic inside construction materials”)

The study is in the journal Nature Communications.

In the future, D’Arcy says,a brick wall could potentially serve a dual purpose: providing structural support and storing electricity generated from renewable energy sources, such as solar panels.

The technology is still at least a few years away from being ready for the commercial market. And right now the energy storage capacity of the bricks is still pretty low—about 1 percent of a lithium ion battery. But the team is now testing ways to improve brick performance—because it looks like you can teach an old brick new tricks.


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