Turning bricks into batteries

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/11/turning-bricks-into-batteries.html

With maybe 12-15,000 bricks in an ‘average’ house (yeah - whatever) built of bricks, that’s a lot of LED lights able to be powered!


I can imagine this being useful on Mars, potentially, where there’s no shortage of iron oxide.


Read this already somewhere else some days ago. Had a good chuckle when somebody outlined the costs of this approach if you wanted to reach the capacity of a regular battery, even if a single brick only costs 3$


I am very good to turn batteries into bricks, especially NiCd and NiMh


Seriously. I’m struggling to see a use for bricks that are also (low capacity) batteries. Seems like the requirements for a brick and a battery, and usage cases, are going to be different enough that there’s no real utility here. I must be missing something though, as obviously someone thought that wasn’t the case.


Good thinking, but you may be forgetting about a major issue with brick homes: the Big Bad Wolf.


Hmm, I’ve observed that the external battery that I use to charge my smartphone in the field has about the dimensions and weight of a brick - at least it seems that way when it’s in my backpack!

I bet it’s higher capacity, though.

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I hate non-removable batteries. It’s a scam to get you to buy a new iHouse whenever a new model shows up.


Looks tasty, with that thin layer of chocolate covering the crunchy inside. Give me forbidden electric candy bar!


ETA: tl;dr --we need to store energy to deal with latency and load-balancing on the [electricity] grid. Plus, we have a lot of bricks already deployed in “the built environment.” Earth-abundant elements mean dirt cheap storage, and locally stored. I am sure I am oversimplifying. YMMV.


Which seems to be more of a hindrance than a reason for this - it’s not like you can take an existing brick wall and turn it into a battery (or series thereof). Each brick, apparently assuming it’s been made in a very particular way to begin with, requires a lot of processing and an individual coating for this to work. Also “only” $3 is a lot for a brick. Like orders of magnitude more than bricks might normally cost (because they’re made out of locally available materials, not necessarily what’s required to make this work). So, yeah, people will need batteries, but I still don’t see a situation where this works better than an actual dedicated battery, even if they could reduce costs (and increase functionality) by orders of magnitude.

I mean, if I have a choice of building a wall out of more expensive bricks, which needs to be specially constructed (at even more extra expense) so they’re all wired up properly, and I have to be super-careful in doing any kind of work on the wall because otherwise my battery might stop working or I can just buy a separate battery, which is replaceable/upgradable/expandable, I don’t know why I’d go for the wall.


It sounds like it’s proof of concept for some more practical energy storage device. More about the cool recipe than the finished product.

I guess the idea is that 20 years from now some totally unrecognizable evolution of this will be just the ticket for some particular use case.


There is a certain shade of red brick–a dark, almost melodious red, sombre and riddled with blue–that is my battery in St. Louis. …

next generation’s Harold Brodkey?

I could imagine brick walls converted to made conductive could be a danger in a lightning storm

A given, as right now, it does not function as a usable battery. But my issues presume it did function as a storage device. The only way it makes sense to me is if the intention isn’t to make construction-brick batteries, but instead their hope is simply to one day be able to make cheap batteries (well, I guess technically capacitors) out of iron oxide-heavy silica (presumably using existing brick-manufacturing infrastructure to provide materials for part the process). That still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, though.

Un-reinforced masonry walls? Not in seismic California.

If they can turn bricks into Cadbury Crunchies, that would be great!



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