The world is edging more and more towards sustainable energy sources, including the potential return of nuclear energy. However, with any future source of power we also have to consider any waste output that these would generate.
So how great would it be to create sustainable, long-lasting energy sources from the waste of another energy source? That’s what experts are hoping to do with nuclear waste.
Waste not want not
One of the main issues with using nuclear energy is the large amounts of radioactive waste that are generated. Compared to other kinds of waste, radioactive is much worse for people’s health and the environment, and harder to contain.
Radioactive diamond batteries use the decay of radioactive waste to generate energy. The betavoltaic device is powered by nuclear waste’s beta decay, and was first developed in 2016. The idea was embraced as game-changing.
Beta decay is when an atom’s nucleus releases excess particles to even out the number of protons to neutrons. The process produces beta radiation, which is lots of electrons zinging around and creating energy.
The batteries are made via chemical vapour deposition, which produces polycrystalline diamond. Using a concoction of hydrogen and methane plasma, the diamond films are grown at a very high temperature. The process has been modified to grow Carbon-14, found on irradiated reactor graphite blocks.
When this material is used in batteries, even in tiny amounts, you get a self-charging long-lasting power source.
Not quite unlimited power
A concern with the batteries is that beta radiation is not the most efficient energy generator. Beta particles zing about in all directions, so it’s not guaranteed they will actually hit the semiconductor. Of those that hit it, only some of them will actually convert into electricity. This makes nuclear energy batteries, on average, not the most effective of choices.
The batteries are very low power, providing only a few microwatts. As such, the applications of the battery so far are limited. But there are certain things it can already do, like power pacemakers or small sensors.
A different kind of source
Even though betavoltaic batteries are still in their infancy, Lantek is an established and capable partner. We stock and source any electronic parts you need, all you need to do is get in touch. Call us today on 1-973-579-8100 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how easy sourcing can be.