A team of Russian scientists have come up with a new nuclear design based on nickel-63, which is said to be more efficient than other commercially available batteries
With the rise of sustainable revolutions, one such resource which needs to be carefully sustained is power. Think of reaching a stage where you could replace the batteries in your device with ones which will last for centuries. Batteries made of nuclear power may be the ones that may allow us to do this one day but the fact that they practically possess a very low power density makes them less considerable.
Now, a team of Russian scientists have come up with a new nuclear design based on nickel-63, which is said to be more efficient than other commercially available batteries and has a higher specific energy.
Use of nuclear power comes with a token of how well it is contained. Nuclear materials are highly dangerous if any of it escapes confinement, it lingers dangerously in the environment for decades which is highly disruptive. However, if the longevity it possesses is properly contained, it is capable of producing energy slowly and consistently for many years.
The fact that nuclear batteries provide less power density over a large period makes it feasible to be used in devices which require a less frequent battery change like an implanted pacemaker for example.
The new design developed by researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), the Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials (TISNCM), and the National University of Science and Technology MISIS uses the radioactive isotope nickel-63.
The team made use of nickel-63 owing to its half-life of 100 years which helps to boost the power density about 3,300 milliwatt-hours of power per gram. This range proves to be 10 times more than the currently preferred conventional batteries. Even with the thickness of just 2 microns, these nickel-63 layers would be very effective when they are sandwiched between diamond diodes having a thickness of 10 microns. The team made use of 200 such diamond converters and achieved a power output of about 1 microwatt. The power density was 10microwatt per cm3.Producing a large amount of nickel-63 is a bit difficult, but the team has assured that the bulk production on the industrial level will roll out in the next decade. They have also established methods for the large scale production of the thin diamond layers. The team plans to improve the design in the future for increasing the power density.