Researchers Test Battery Powered By Nuclear Waste

[Aug. 25, 2020: Joseph Shavit]

Pleasanton-based green energy startup NDB Inc. has reached a key milestone today with the completion of two proof of concept tests of its nano diamond battery (NDB) powered by small pieces of nuclear waste. One of these tests took place at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the other at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, and both saw NDB’s battery tech manage a 40% charge, which is a big improvement over the 15% charge collection efficiency (effectively energy lossiness relative to maximum total possible charge) of standard commercial diamond.

When the tech matures, it hopes the batteries could last for between a decade and 28,000 years — an extraordinary energy breakthrough which, if it actually came to pass, could revolutionize everything from electric transportation to personal electronics.

A detailed writeup in New Atlas lists a series of incredible claims by NDB. The nano-diamond batteries give off less radiation than the human body, according to the company, would be safe in car accidents, and could cost less than a lithium-ion battery. The cells could be made in any form factor, it says, including iconic ones like AA.

This battery doesn’t generate any carbon emissions in operation, and only requires access to open air to work. And while they’re technically batteries, because they contain a charge which will eventually be expended, they provide their own charge for much longer than the lifetime of any specific device or individual user, making them effectively a charge-free solution.

“Think of it in an iPhone,” company spokesperson Neel Naicker told New Atlas. “With the same size battery, it would charge your battery from zero to full, five times an hour. Imagine that. Imagine a world where you wouldn’t have to charge your battery at all for the day. Now imagine for the week, for the month… How about for decades? That’s what we’re able to do with this technology.”

Long story short, it sounds too good to be true. But if what the company’s execs are saying holds up, it could be a gamechanger.

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Diamond battery is the name of a prototype battery initially proposed by the University of Bristol Cabot Institute during their annual lecture held on 25 November 2016 at the Wills Memorial Building. This battery is proposed to run on the radioactivity of waste graphite blocks (previously used as neutron moderator material in nuclear reactors) and would last for thousands of years.

The battery, developed by the University of Bristol, is a betavoltaic cell using carbon-14 (C-14) in the form of diamond-like carbon (DLC) as the beta radiation source, and additional normal-carbon DLC to make the necessary semiconductor junction and encapsulate the carbon-14.... Read More

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