Nuclear waste diamond batteries can last 100's of years

Daily Times

Some industries face power problems. Among these are the utilities industry, the electric vehicle industry, and nuclear energy industry. To solve an energy problem, physicists and chemists from the Cabot Institute for the Environment of the University of Bristol created Radioactive Diamond Batteries that can potentially last thousands of years.

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A prototype of Arkenlight's gammavoltaic battery that will convert gamma rays from nuclear waste repositories into electricity.University of Bristol

Radioactive Diamond Batteries

The radioactive diamond batteries involve a repurposing and containing of nuclear waster, formed into batteries. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) nuclear energy has zero carbon dioxide emissions. However, containing the nuclear radioactive material from its harmful residues has long been challenge for scientists.

Maia Mulko from the University of Bristol explains in an article, that the batteries are made from beta decay of nuclear waste. Beta decay in nuclear waste occurs when an atom's nucleus has excess particles particles and releases them to obtain a stable ratio of protons and neutrons. This radiation involves a lot of high-energy and high-speed electrons known as beta particles.

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Beta decay is a type of radioactive decay that occurs when an atom’s nucleus has an excess of particles and releases some of them to obtainMike Run/Wikimedia

The batteries make energy from beta particles, turned into electricity by semiconductors. Chemical vapor deposition mixes hydrogen and methane gas to grow diamond films at high temperatures. To make powering the batteries more consistent from its internal beta particles' random emissions toward the conductor, the diamond film acts as both a semi-conductor and a radioactive component of the battery. This type of synthetic batter is called polycrystalline diamonds.

The recently created radioactive diamond batteries' hold nuclear waste on the inside which recharge the battery, perpetually.

For now, the batters only emit a few microwatts, which is about the size of a small AA battery. The developer of the battery is Arkenlight, a United Kingdom-based company. They note on their website that this new product was developed behind 20,000 hours of research and development.

Arkenlight officially calls this new product diamond gammavoltaics, on their website. In addition they expect their products to be used in nuclear and space applications. Arkenlight estimates the batteries lifespan at a century.

Credits:

University of Bristol

Energy Information Administration

Arkenlight

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