Nuclear energy is often viewed as a clean and green energy source, as it produces zero emissions.
However, the mining of uranium, its transport, and processing is energy intensive and damaging to the environment. Additionally, the difficulty of disposing of radioactive waste makes it a less-than-ideal option for many environmentalists.
Nuclear power stations are still responsible for close to one-third of the world’s carbon-free electricity and can play an important role in meeting climate change objectives.
A new type of battery may help with the problem of disposing of radioactive waste that will last for thousands of years!
Recycling nuclear waste into batteries has been proposed as a potential solution to the issue of insufficient safe storage space for hazardous, radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants.
Radioactive diamond batteries, invented in 2016 by a team of physicists and chemists from the Cabot Institute for the Environment of the University of Bristol, are a type of betavoltaic device that can convert nuclear energy into electric energy through a semiconductor.
These batteries are made using a process called chemical vapor deposition, which uses a mixture of hydrogen and methane plasma to grow radioactive diamonds. The diamond acts as both a radioactive source and a semiconductor, allowing it to self-charge without needing to be recharged.
However, these batteries have limited applications due to their low power output – providing only a few microwatts of power – making them suitable only for small devices such as sensors and pacemakers.
Nano-diamond batteries are being developed as an alternative to limited-life batteries for deep space missions and for sensors and medical devices here on earth.
These batteries are said to provide safety features due to the diamond’s hardness and thermally conductive nature, while also allowing for different shapes and forms due to the thin-film layers of polycrystalline diamond.
The Internet of Things requires billions of sensors and devices, that will connect our world and provide the data and services we need. The sheer number of batteries needed for these devices can be quite substantial especially when the batteries need to be changed.
The radioactive diamond battery will solve this problem!
This revolutionary technology allows IoT sensors and devices to continue operating indefinitely, without the need for frequent charging cycles. Thanks to this advancement, the potential for the Internet of Things is now greater than ever before!
[Dec. 21, 2022: Maia Mulko, University of Bristol]