Water-based nuclear battery can be used to generate electrical energy

From cell phones to cars and flashlights, batteries play an important role in everyday life. Scientists and technology companies constantly are seeking ways to improve battery life and efficiency. Now, for the first time using a water-based solution, researchers at the University of Missouri have created a long-lasting and more efficient nuclear battery that could be used for many applications such as a reliable energy source in automobiles and also in complicated applications such as space flight.

"Betavoltaics, a that generates power from radiation, has been studied as an energy source since the 1950s," said Jae W. Kwon, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and nuclear engineering in the College of Engineering at MU. "Controlled nuclear technologies are not inherently dangerous. We already have many commercial uses of nuclear technologies in our lives including fire detectors in bedrooms and emergency exit signs in buildings."

The battery uses a radioactive isotope called strontium-90 that boosts electrochemcial energy in a water-based solution. A nanostructured titanium dioxide electrode (the common element found in sunscreens and UV blockers) with a platinum coating collects and effectively converts energy into electrons.

"Water acts as a buffer and surface plasmons created in the device turned out to be very useful in increasing its efficiency," Kwon said. "The ionic solution is not easily frozen at very low temperatures and could work in a wide variety of applications including car batteries and, if packaged properly, perhaps spacecraft."

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More information: The research, "Plasmon-assisted radiolytic energy conversion in aqueous solutions," was conducted by Kwon's research group at MU, and was published in Nature.
Journal information: Nature

Citation: Water-based nuclear battery can be used to generate electrical energy (2014, September 16) retrieved 24 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-09-water-based-nuclear-battery-electrical-energy.html
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Sep 16, 2014
Unfortunately there is no mention of how much more efficient or longer-lasting this water-based solution will make nuclear batteries. Does it increase efficiency less than 1% or closer to 50%?

Sep 16, 2014
strontium 90 has a history being used in nuclear batteries. it's very reliable and cheap and long lasting, but it's not nearly as energy dense as other more difficult isotopes . thus it's relatively unfavored in the history of applied nuclear battery technology, much of which was developed by the soviets.

it is unfortunate. nuclear battery tech has stalled for amny years and it's time to bring this promising area of technolog engineering up to date...

the major issue is of course the laibility and regulation associated with casing strontium 50 in a safe impenetrable housing meant for MANY years of operation.

generatlly , batteries like this are only built for governmetn operation so the technology lags....with limited demand...

Sep 16, 2014
Thanks for the link to the article:
"Maximum energy conversion efficiency (η) of our device was approximately estimated to be 53.88% at −0.9 V"

The article has some supplementary detailed electron irradiation profiles movies (avi) that looked like mushroom clouds going off inside the batteries.

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