Light Source Lasts 12 Years - No Electricity Needed

Dec 13, 2007 by Lisa Zyga weblog

A company called MPK is designing a light source that will glow continuously for more than 12 years without any additional energy.

The material, dubbed "Litrosphere," can cover a standard sheet of paper for a cost of about 35 cents, and comes in a variety of colors. It´s also flexible, and can take the form of either paint or injection-molded plastic. The material is not affected by the heat or cold, can withstand 5,000 pounds, and stays on constantly.

According to the company's patent, the material is based on betavoltaics and uses the radioactive gas tritium as the power source. The beta particles from the tritium radiation can be safely contained by phosphor-coated microspheres. Tritium has a half-life of about 12 years.

MPK specializes in glow-in-the-dark paint and other glow products, although the new material does not need to be exposed to light in order to work. The company predicts that the technology could be used for light safety tape, lighted life rafts/flotation equipment, toys, sports/camping equipment, and bikes.

"This has potential to save billions in energy costs world-wide," said Steve Stark, MPK engineer. "Litroenergy surpasses all known available lighting options for cost/durability/reliability and safety."

Litroenergy has recently been added to the New Energy Congress' (NEC) list of Top 100 Technologies (rank pending). However, its use will likely be limited to applications that don´t require a great deal of light.

"The intensity is not very strong," noted NEC member Richard P. George. "This is good enough for night illumination of rifle scopes, watches, and emergency signs, but it is not going to come anywhere close to matching the light output of or replace electric light bulbs (incandescent, fluorescent, LED, etc.) or kerosene lanterns."

There are also rumors that MPK may use similar technology as a power source in the future.

"It´s not something the company is ready to talk publicly about yet, but they do have battery technology that would be of the same ilk: betavoltaic technology allowing continuous power for years in all battery applications, including automobiles," said NEC member Sterling D. Allan. "They think they will be able to win the DoD [Department of Defense] contest for the $1 million prize for backpack battery tech."

More information: Litroenergy at Wiki Directory
Litroenergy Patent

Explore further: Can perovskites and silicon team up to boost industrial solar cell efficiencies?

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User comments : 8

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5 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2007
I had a tritium backlight on a wristwatch about 25 years ago.
3 / 5 (4) Dec 13, 2007
The tritium that was used is wristwatches in the past had severe health effects on the laborers who made the watches. Specifically, mouth cancer. This sounds safer...but who knows.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2007
Beta radiation from tritium has charge and mass of electrons.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2007
Gush10 you are wrong, you probably mean radium but who knows.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2007
I am personally in favor of radioactive derived electric energy. Those idiots with an across the board absoloutist opinion that oppose RTGs for use in space are just plain silly to me. If we improved and developed many forms of battery technology with different types of this fuel source... I think we would find tons of applicability within improved safety requirements over current forms of energy.

I would rather drive a car that may leak a little radiation if some horrific accident occurred then die immediately in a ball of flames from gasoline combustion.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2007
Yeah Big Tone. Although cars very rarely explode (more people die from injuries sustained when they are yanked from a car than from cars exploding by a long long long way. Idiotic passerbys have watched too many action flicks and think cars just go boom whenever they crash or catch fire. It just doesn't happen that way), I suspect that the death rate from a crashed RTG powered car (if that is practical) would be lower than from a gasoline powered car.

People just freak over nuclear powered stuff for some reason. Yet they gladly breath sulfur dioxide from coal plants and strap themselves into cars powered by highly flammable liquid fuel:P. Smart. (And as a side note, because of the small amounts of uranium and thorium and such things that exist in all coal, all coal plants actually produce more radioactivity per watt generated than the most inefficient nuclear plant in the world.)
5 / 5 (1) Dec 18, 2007
Give me some plutonium-238 for a basement RTG. It will fill much of my electrical needs. I'll use the waste heat to warm the house in winter, cool it in summer, and make hot water. An attached sterling engine can pump water from my well. My family could be off the grid for many, many years. Of course, the initial investment is a bit "spendy."
not rated yet Oct 24, 2008
The 2007 NASA Tech Brief's Grand Prize award winning light source from MPK CO. was just disclosed in this years contest to create electricity when applied to solar cells.

Versatile, abundant and low cost electrical energy - this can power micro devices, electric car, homes, etc. for 20 years. Green Tech the world needs today!

The technology aims to replace batteries, generating low-cost electricity for everything from micro devices to utility applications has groundbreaking implications and potential to turn the battery business upside down.

Litroenergy is made from litrospheres, which are self-illuminating micro particles that, when they are placed on or sandwiched between solar cells, generate electricity. The light-emitting micro particles are not affected by heat or cold and can be used in sheet form for easy application on solar cells.

%u201CThe many novel, versatile and far reaching applications/benefits for low cost on-going durable, solid state power generation without using any additional resources and being extremely environmentally friendly has ground breaking implications for our energy consuming world.%u201D

See NASA Tech Brief's Contest site or web site for more information on this technology.

Steve Stark

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