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The foundations of power.
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(+6, -4)
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Generally once concrete cures it is best to keep it from saturating as it acts like a sponge, but with new aggregates being developed, polymer additives and resins for bonding, concrete can withstand saltwater construction. I'm thinking that it should be possible to make the entire foundation of a building into one giant saltwater battery.
With a solar collecting roof imagine the energy savings verses the extra cost of pouring the foundation.

Saltwater battery http://www.exo.net/...ltwaterbattery.html
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jun 10 2006]

Saltwater concrete http://ois.nist.gov...arch.cfm?dbibid=569
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jun 10 2006]

Funkcrete http://www.djc.com/...rete97/10024305.htm
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jun 10 2006]


       My hope that someone who knows more than I do about this commenting has been surpassed by my impatience.   

       So many questions, sorry [2 fries]. Do you think the concrete will absorb enough salt to fund the electrical process? (I may completely misunderstand)   

       Will the reinforcement be epoxy bonded / and corrosively sealed?   

       Do the solar panels aid in the process? (I was so let down by a "build your own solar panel site which used salt water" when I discovered how much electricity was generated. My previous research into "making solar panels" put me off seeing how many dangerous chemicals were involved & how complicated it appears to be - at least for the build it youself idea.)
Zimmy, Jun 11 2006

       I read a thing years ago about a guy using electricity to cause minerals to deposit onto a metal grid from sea water forming a solid structure. Exactly not what you are talking about here, but it triggered my memory from the same keywords I guess. I wonder if the flow of electricity into and out of the foundation battery would possibly affect the strength of the structure?
James Newton, Jun 11 2006

       [JN] The Bridge to Sri Lanka?
Zimmy, Jun 11 2006

       A battery made of saltwater and concrete? This falls short of an idea, because you haven't said how it works.
ldischler, Jun 11 2006

       Doh! Busted.   

       [BJS] //Wouldn't you have to pay to pour this too?//
Yep, hence: verses the extra cost of pouring the foundation.

       [Zimmy] //Do you think the concrete will absorb enough salt to fund the electrical process? // I figured that the salt would be dissolved in the water used to mix the concrete for pouring so it should take as much salt as the water will absorb.
// Will the reinforcement be epoxy bonded / and corrosively sealed?// Yes, although exchangeable metal rods will need to be able to corrode. I think.
//Do the solar panels aid in the process?// They would just trickle charge the battery in the daylight.

       [James Newton] I think I read an article about that too. Current and saltwater are both bad for standard concrete but the British seem to have found ways around that, (probably a French immigrant).   

       [ldischler] // because you haven't said how it works. // That's because I honestly don't know if it will. I know it's possible to make a saltwater battery. Concrete has been developed that will carry a current and withstand saltwater submersion so combining elements of these existing ideas may make electro-crete.   

       I hope this doesn't come across the wrong way but if I had the ability to make even half of the ideas I've posted, I rather doubt that I would be crawling for a living. :)   

       I guess I misunderstood what you meant; I thought you were comparing it to not pouring a foundation, or pouring one for free.
BJS, Jun 11 2006

       No worries.   

       I thought (and hoped) that this will be an idea about a concrete that sets when electricity is applied.
neelandan, Jun 12 2006

       You've got to use up something to make a battery run. My guess is that this will lead to a loss of structural integrity in the concrete and/or the steel mesh, and the groundwater around your house being suffused with some interesting pollutants.
BunsenHoneydew, Jun 13 2006

       Concrete that conducts electricity would make a fine way to keep the baddies out of the yard at night or when on vacation. Just construct your wall or sidewalk with the stuff and flip the switch when away.
MoreCowbell, Jun 13 2006

       Two thoughts here (my ration for the month). First you can't get something for nothing. My limited chemistry knowlege reminds me that to make a battery you need an anode and a cathode, with each sacrificing something into the mix to store and release energy. All mater is converted with energy neither being lost nor gained. In other words there is no free lunch. The very idea of electrolisis existing within a foundation system is why we use sacrificial anodes where corrosive environments exist. Salt and electricity are enemies of concrete, damaging both the reinforcing steel and the bond of the cement to aggregate. Doubtful? look at any sidewalk over exposed to deicing salts, or any structure along the ocean. So I gotta say your idea is a bit fishy.   

       Second thought. Please ignore the fact that I am going to contradict myself. Imagine if electricity could play a formative role in setting concrete. A current induced along a matrix of electrical connections could be used to "grow" underwater structures. Perhaps instead of concrete an amalgam of silicates and metalic salts pumped through a bladder lined with conducters would produce the crystaline structure necessary to imitate traditional comcrete. Yes this is a bit of magical thinking, however I think that it still has possibilities.
CNIII, Jun 13 2006

       Yeah, using electricity to set or grow concrete structures would be cool.
As for salt water and electricity being destructive to conventional concrete, check out the second link. I had this idea a couple of years ago and have been searching the net off and on, waiting, always coming up with the same drawbacks you mention, until three days ago when I found that article on electrifying concrete, and the third link on concrete in salt water enviroments.

       It will be.
Oh yes, it will be so.

       I was watching a show about stromolites and how they're formed, and after reading this Idea something occurred to me. With the advent of nano-fibrils that would comprise polarized ends separated by a semiconductor it may be possible to "build" concrete layer by layer while giving ambient electrons a one-way ride out of the concrete matrix.
reensure, Jun 14 2006

       Would it be practical to construct reinforced concrete where all the rebar was connected to a negative voltage source so as to inhibit corrosion?
supercat, Jun 14 2006

       Chemistry is my weak point (well, one of my weak points) but as far as I know every type of battery ever invented suffers physical damage from the action of repeated charging and discharging. Not a good long term forecast for foundations, really. It's still too good an idea to bone, regardless of all it's faults.
wagster, Jun 14 2006

       The saltwater battery in that link doesn't sound rechargeable to me. Having said that, i don't see why something more sophisticated couldn't be built, in a concrete matrix.   

       Anyway, an interesting thought which I shall bun, even if the physics as it stands is a tad shaky.
moomintroll, Jun 15 2006

       [wagster] True for all electrochemical battery technologies (especially Pb-A) except for flowing electrolyte cell batteries such as Vanadium/Vanadium and Zinc/Bromine. V/V has too low an energy density and is too 'finicky' in its chemistry to ever be viable in 99% of applications. Zn/Br has all the theoretical potential to be the killer replacement for Pb-A in about 60% of current Pb-A applications.
ConsulFlaminicus, Jun 15 2006

       part of concretes structure is that its got an interconnected pore network. When you apply an electric current the circuit is completed via the electrolyte that fills the pores. After a period of time the openings of the pores connecting each 'chamber' get a build up and eventually block off, which eventually increaser the over all resistance of the concrete.
lostmind, Jun 05 2012

       The ancient Romans made concrete that was able to cure underwater, in the salty Mediterranean Sea. If the formula has been lost, then it is about time it got re-invented (got to be cheaper than today's modern additives).
Vernon, Jun 05 2012


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