Combining concrete with 2D materials such as graphene produces a material that can be used to produce heating panels for indoor and outdoor use.
Electro-conductive concrete combines the mechanical properties of traditional concrete with the electrical properties of 2D materials, such as graphene, in order to obtain a product that, in a few millimetres of thickness, has the properties of both. An electrical current can be passed through the electro-conductive concrete and, due to the joule effect, heat is released. The concrete can be used as heating panels, both for indoor and outdoor applications.
For indoor use, both in vertical and horizontal applications, the uniform layers of electrical conduction provide a stable temperature and improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Further benefits include saving space in rooms or buildings as a central heating unit is no longer required. Historical buildings may also be heated in an unobtrusive manner.
For outdoor applications, using substrates of electro-conductive concrete for garage ramps or pedestrian walkways could assist de-icing, helping to avoid the use of de-icing products, such as salts harmful to the environment, and reduce slippage injuries to pedestrians.
Further promising opportunities come from the fact that the energy demand for heating the electro-conductive concrete can be shifted to off-peak periods, particularly when electro-conductive concrete panels are connected to a thicker layer of concrete, as the thermal mass of concrete enables it to act as a thermal reservoir. This reduces bills for consumers, as well as lowering demand for energy at peak times, reducing overall grid capacity requirements.
Similarly, if powered by renewable energy, electricity can be used when it is generated, with the concrete acting as an energy storage. This has benefits in terms of grid stability, as well as reducing the use of fossil fuels with consequent reductions in CO2 emissions.
Further reading and sources
Balancing the Energy Grid
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