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3-D Printing Bricks Generate Electricity by Temperature Change

August 25, 2019

Bricks have been used as building materials for thousands of years, but when applied to science and technology, they have more functions. A team of scientists led by King's College London has developed a thermoelectric brick that can generate electricity, requiring two sides of the brick to be at different temperatures. This is because there is a balanced electrochemical reduction and oxidation process in the bricks on both sides. As long as there is a temperature difference between the two sides, for example, if the exterior of the brick structure is hot and sunny, but the interior is cool and shadowed, an electrochemical reaction will occur and electricity will be generated. The compounds inside will not be consumed, depleted or overcharged.

The researchers used gel water in the bricks and added 3D printing inside according to the minimum surface structure of Schwarz D. This makes thermoelectric bricks stronger than typical bricks and allows for electrochemical reactions and improves insulation.

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Scientists believe that these bricks can be used in areas with limited housing and electricity in the world. Bricks provide energy that is economical and sustainable, and they are easy to build.

Dr Leigh Aldous, a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at King's College, said, "Our idea is that these bricks can be printed in 3-D using recyclable plastics and can be quickly and easily made into refugee camps. By keeping the simple behavior of the occupant warmer or cooler than the surrounding environment, electricity will be generated enough to provide night lighting and charge the cell phone. Crucially, they do not need to be maintained, recharged or refilled. Unlike batteries, they do not store energy by themselves, which eliminates the risk of fire and transport restrictions.

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3D printing is considered a promising way to build houses and other structures quickly and sustainably in areas where they are needed, but power resources in many of these areas are also limited. Prior to 3D printing, it had been used in these areas in conjunction with alternative energy technologies, such as solar energy. However, thermoelectric bricks are a new material. The team also includes scientists from Arizona State University and the University of Sydney, New South Wales, who have applied for temporary patents for bricks.

"Interestingly, we can take something very common and never thought about, such as the temperature difference of the house, and use it to exert our strength." Conor Beale, an undergraduate at King's University, said, "This could have a significant impact on a family living in developing countries."

Electricity is what most people in developed countries take for granted. But without it, life, education and work are limited by sunset and sunset. Where there is no electricity supply, it can significantly affect productivity, let alone allow people to use technologies such as mobile phones, computers and even 3D printers.