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Home » Can A Simple Brick Be the Next Great Battery? – John O’Donnell (Transcript)

Can A Simple Brick Be the Next Great Battery? – John O’Donnell (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of John O’Donnell’s talk titled “Can A Simple Brick Be the Next Great Battery?” at TED conference.

Energy entrepreneur John O’Donnell’s talk, “Can A Simple Brick Be the Next Great Battery?”, explores the innovative use of bricks in reducing carbon emissions. He discusses how industrial heat, a significant contributor to CO2 emissions, can be decarbonized through electrification and the use of alternative materials.

O’Donnell highlights the economic and environmental benefits of using bricks and iron wire, which are cost-effective and abundant, for storing heat. He explains that bricks, when heated, can store as much energy as lithium-ion batteries but are significantly cheaper and more durable. The talk also delves into the challenges of even heat distribution in bricks and wires, and how his team overcame these with a radiant heat design.

O’Donnell’s vision is to use these heat-storing bricks in industrial processes, powered by renewable energy, to significantly cut down CO2 emissions. He concludes with a hopeful message about the potential of this technology to contribute to a decarbonized industry and a sustainable future.

Listen to the audio version here:


Understanding the Potential of Bricks in CO2 Reduction

I get a deep sense of hope when I look at this brick. It’s going to spend the next 50 years of its life cutting CO2, and bricks like it are going to cut 15 percent of world CO2. So let’s talk about that, but first, we have to talk about fire. Fire warms us, heats our homes, cooks our food, and we also use it to make almost everything.

Industrial production, making stuff, uses more fossil fuel than any other part of the world economy. We burn coal, oil, and gas to make steel, calcined cement, cook baby food, make glass, fabric, everything. We don’t notice it in our daily lives, but industrial energy use is the largest part of the total world economy, and industrial heat is a quarter of world fossil-fuel use and world carbon emissions. Let me say that again — industrial heat is a quarter of world carbon pollution.

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