DailyDirt: Nuclear Batteries Last A Long Time
from the urs-we-dig-up dept
Battery technology is a significant bottleneck for a lot of gadgets, and the limitations of batteries even prevent the widespread adoption of renewable energy solutions. Storing energy efficiently and safely is just a difficult problem. Quite a few energy storage solutions have been proposed, ranging from giant flywheels to burying pressurized air. One far out option that doesn’t get much attention is the nuclear battery, so here are just a few links on this obscure technology with a decently long half-life.
- Physicists have successfully captured and observed ions from an unstable isotope of bismuth which could help predict further nuclear reactions and lead to a practical nuclear battery. Being able to control a trapped form of nuclear energy is critical to the development of nuclear batteries that could hold a million times more energy than a conventional battery. [url]
- Both of the Voyager spacecrafts are powered by radioisotope thermionic generators that have lasted for decades without any moving parts or maintenance. No one is going to start using the heat of decaying plutonium-238 for powering any terrestrial gadgets any time soon, but these power plants are definitely reliable. [url]
- A thumb-sized battery called the NanoTritium could last 20 years or more, but it only delivers nanowatts of power. This betavoltaic power source will be commercially available, but it won’t be cheap at over $1,000 per battery. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.
Filed Under: battery, bismuth, energy, isotope, nanotritium, nuclear, plutonium, power, thermionic generator, tritium, voyager
Comments on “DailyDirt: Nuclear Batteries Last A Long Time”
We're running out of plutonium 238!
We haven’t made much since the cold war….
Currently gadgets are suffering greatly from this issue. My phone lasts 2 days if I don’t use the wireless connection and keep the wi-fi off when not using it. I”d surely use such batteries =/
Long Lasting, Short Lived
I think if it ever happens, the batteries are going to have to work universally with a long line of products. That’s the problem with having a battery that could last, say, ten years (and potentially cause great waste hazards if thrown away en masse): the battery might last a decade but we want something new in a year or we break our product within three. If the iPhone 10s takes a nuclear battery the 8s didn’t take, that translates to a whole lot of batteries sitting in a drawer or recycling facility powering nothing.
back in the day (30+ years ago) I seemed to recall some work by the US on using Nuclear Batteries for jeeps and tanks. I wonder how far the tech has come.
Uh, No. Just... No.
We do not need radioactive batteries in circulation for consumer goods. God, no.
For the space program, yeah, sure. We’re running out of plutonium-238, there are only a few pounds remaining in NASA’s inventory. If we can develop a replacement, hopefully one that’s cheaper and safer to produce, then good. We need that.
But not for anything else. We especially do not need radioactive materials in consumer products. That’s dumber than asbestos insulation in homes. Nothing good can come of it.