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Power

Penny-Sized Nuclear Batteries Developed 444

Posted by kdawson
from the is-that-a-nuke-in-your-pocket dept.
pickens writes "Nuclear batteries that produce energy from the decay of radioisotopes are an attractive proposition for many applications because the isotopes that power them can provide a useful amount of current for hundreds of years at power densities a million times as high as standard batteries. Nuclear batteries have been used for military and aerospace applications for years, their large size has limited their general usage. But now a research team at the University of Missouri has developed a nuclear battery the size of a penny that could be used to power micro- and nano-electromechanical systems. The researchers' innovation is not only in the battery's size, but also that the batteries use a liquid semiconductor rather than a solid semiconductor. 'The critical part of using a radioactive battery is that when you harvest the energy, part of the radiation energy can damage the lattice structure of the solid semiconductor,' says Jae Wan Kwon. 'By using a liquid semiconductor, we believe we can minimize that problem.' The batteries are safe under normal operating conditions. 'People hear the word "nuclear" and think of something very dangerous,' says Kwon. 'However, nuclear power sources have already been safely powering a variety of devices, such as pacemakers, space satellites, and underwater systems.'"
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Penny-Sized Nuclear Batteries Developed

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  • ohhhhh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by 0110011001110101 (881374) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:34AM (#29691619) Journal
    so this is what Iran has been up to... now it all makes sense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I know this a joke, but it does remind me of something. One of the arguments that people on the far right have tried to use to convince the public that Iran is trying to build bombs and not energy is: "Iran has so much oil, why would they care about nuclear energy?"

      Easy, sherlock... they aren't going to have oil forever. Iran might be thinking ahead. They might not want to make the same mistake that the U.S. made it comes to oil dependency.

      Having said that, I still think that Iran's program is to make a

      • Re:ohhhhh... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:49AM (#29691883)

        Iran has crude oil. What they *don't* have is gasoline...fuel oil...asphalt...and so on. Iran has very little in the way of refining capability (it didn't help that a large chunk of their refineries got blown up in the Iraq-Iran war). In fact, one of the sanctions that's been discussed for Iran is cutting off their gasoline supply.

        • Re:ohhhhh... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:43AM (#29692905)

          it didn't help that a large chunk of their refineries got blown up in the Iraq-Iran war

          The Iraq-Iran war [wikipedia.org] was over 20 years ago. They could have rebuilt their refining capabilities by now had they chosen to do so.

      • Re:ohhhhh... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SteeldrivingJon (842919) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:54AM (#29691987) Homepage Journal

        Easy, sherlock... they aren't going to have oil forever. Iran might be thinking ahead. They might not want to make the same mistake that the U.S. made it comes to oil dependency.

        Or, they could figure that it's bloody stupid to burn their own oil for power when they could sell it on the market as global supplies dwindle and/or demand rises. Better to use nuclear to generate electricity and use the fossil fuels to provide revenue for the future.

      • Re:ohhhhh... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by radtea (464814) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:56AM (#29692007)

        "Iran has so much oil, why would they care about nuclear energy?"

        For the same reason Canada does.

        Canada has almost as much oil as Iran and has a large civil nuclear power program. Here in Ontario we get about half our electricity from nuclear power, despite all that oil in Alberta and elsewhere.

        So anyone bringing this point up about Iran is just demonstrating their complete ignorance of the world, and disqualifying themselves from being taken seriously regarding American foreign policy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dunbal (464142)

        Having said that, I still think that Iran's program is to make a bomb...

        Nahh, having a bomb is really a fringe benefit. Pakistan has bombs, North Korea has bombs, and it doesn't stop those countries from being shit-holes. Having a bomb does not immediately confer upon you God-like abilities. Though it does tend to make warmongering politicians pause a little.

        Iran would rather have our wealth by maximizing sale of crude, and keep on exporting oil. Hell when oil was at $15

  • Cars??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clonan (64380) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:34AM (#29691627)

    So lets scale these up and replace the power pakcs on cars!

    I would love to be able to drive for a few hundred years between recharges!

    • Re:Cars??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:37AM (#29691667)
      Haha, yeah. Until Joe Public hears the word "nuclear" and shits a brick.
      • Re:Cars??? (Score:5, Funny)

        by clonan (64380) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:39AM (#29691713)

        We can just say its "nucular" and be all cute like George W.

        The world will never know the truth!

      • Re:Cars??? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:02AM (#29692121)

        So don't call it "nuclear decay." That just sounds bad all around.

        Use a tried and proven practice by inventing a euphemism for "nuclear decay." How about "elemental ebbing," or "EE" for short?

        Joe Public would definitely buy something labeled, "Powered by EE, as in grEEn!"

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yep, I'm old enough to remember when an MRI scan was a NMR (Nuclear magnetic resonance) scan. The marketroids changed that as soon as the scans were out of the lab.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by artemis67 (93453)

          Yes, "nuclear decay" sounds nasty and horrible.

          Marketing has an idea to replace it with something much more enticing:

          "The penny-sized battery -- powered by Kitten Purrs!"

      • Re:Cars??? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bai jie (653604) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:06AM (#29692179)
        You know, maybe we need a new word for nuclear. A good old rebranding like corporations do when their name is now met with general public distrust (regardless if the distrust is warranted). We can still call all bombs nuclear, but from now on we should use the term Hydro-Exothermic power plants to describe new power plants. Or something that makes people think of steam instead of ZOMG radiation and bombs.
        • Re:Cars??? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by psydeshow (154300) on Friday October 09, 2009 @01:38PM (#29696625) Homepage

          Atomic.

          Atomic battery. Seriously, it's all quaint and 1950s. Still a little cool and scary, but also fully controllable.

          Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were Nuclear Power Plants, generating Nuclear Power. We want to build Atomic Energy Stations that generate Atomic Energy. See the difference in how it sounds?

      • Nuclear fear (Score:5, Insightful)

        by goombah99 (560566) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:39AM (#29692815)

        Nuclear materials usually are not very dangerous for their nuclear properties. For most nuclear materials your skin is all the protection you need. You can get irradiated if you ingest it, which is how Nuclear medicines intnetionally work. But in many cases nuclear materials like Plutonium are more toxic as chemicals then they are dangerous as radioactive materials. You would not intentionally eat battery acid either, and evidently people don't do it accidentally very often either. The death rate from plutonium ingestion would presumably be about the same as the death rate from people ingesting car batteries.

        The upside of nuclear materials is that unlike trace chemical contamination, which is hard to find and hard to clean up (e.g. think ancient leaking service station gas tanks contaminating well water), nuclear contamination is easy to find, easy to trace and easy to know when you have cleaned it all up.

        would a single hundred year nuclear battery be less harmful to the enviroment or humans than a hundred years of mercury cadmium telluride hearing aid batteries and all the waste products to mine, produce and transport them?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Meh, call it "material power", put it in a AA form factor, and sell it for $20 as a "forever battery".

        Forever batteries -- now with 400,000 Ah capacity. Take pictures until your camera breaks. Never charge your Wiimotes. Keep your family safe with never-dying smoke detectors.

        and the kicker:

        your cell phone will never run out of power.

        Joe Public will be lining up around the block to get their hands on these bad boys.

    • If it were that big, the lead shielding required would make an SUV look light.

      (and before anyone screams "troll!", let me quote TFA: "but the particles' extremely high energies means...")

      ('course, I could be way the hell wrong about it, but it seems that a car-sized isotope battery would churn out a hellish amount of particles considering the amperage rating).

      • Re:Cars??? (Score:5, Funny)

        by CoolHnd30 (89871) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:57AM (#29692031)

        but it seems that a car-sized isotope battery would

        It would be difficult to fit a battery the size of a car into a car....

    • My dream of driving a Chryslus Motors Highwayman [wikia.com] can now become a reality!
    • power densities a million times as high as standard batteries

      It sounds like they would almost serve in cars as-is.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Robin47 (1379745)
      Recharge? How do you recharge a battery that depends on the decay of radioisotopes?
      • by Dunbal (464142)

        Well you'd need a Mr. Fusion machine. Then it would be easy.

        But since nuclear fusion is a dream unachievable outside mathematical formulas, billion dollar labs where they can produce a picogram or so of new stuff, and THE SUN, I doubt that it's going to happen anytime soon.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tverbeek (457094)

        You don't recharge it. You use it for a thousand years, then throw it into a landfill. Or a nearby star.

      • by mea37 (1201159)
        Uh... I'll worry about that in a few hundred years, when it's depleted?
      • Battery Swap Stations?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jarik C-Bol (894741)
      i was thinking more along the lines of a bios battery that will last until the next ice age.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Smegly (1607157)
      The usual suspects [wikipedia.org] are already against it, regardless of whether the tech is viable or not... and in this case the said usual suspects only have to yell "Nuclear Threat!!" to an already scared population to keep this off your roadways, forever... whether its a valid fear or not [wikipedia.org]
      • by Twinbee (767046)

        I swear if that happens I'll start a campaign and website.

        There's simply NO WAY that such a cool technology could not make it to market. It would be amazing for so many reasons.

      • Re:Cars??? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Rei (128717) on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:34PM (#29695753) Homepage

        IF they're talking about an RTG, I'd rule that right out. I'm not fond of the idea of every car in the country carrying hundreds of kilograms of highly radioactive isotopes around when manufacturing defects are inevitable and there are 6.3 million car crashes and 260,000 car fires every year.

        On the other hand, it sounds like what they're describing is actually betavoltaics (God, I hate it when science articles are this vague...). If that's the case, no big deal. Betavoltaics use tritium as the fuel, and tritium is less dangerous than, say, the lead in your lead-acid battery. It's a very weak radiation (can't penetrate skin, doesn't go very far through air), and when ingested, the tritium (generally being in the form of water) has a very short residency in the body.

        The problem with scaling up betavoltaics is supply. How can you supply that much tritium in any remotely affordable manner? It just doesn't seem plausible.

    • by cashman73 (855518)
      Wake me when it's able to generate the 1.21 Gigawatts of electricity necessary to run my DeLorean's Flux Capacitor,...
    • Screw that. I can fit a car inside my house, so why not a couple stacks of these that take up 2 regrigerator spaces in the basement? I don't care if they're dime sized, for home use they could be car battery sized.
    • Re:Cars??? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:00AM (#29692069)
      As with all other batteries just store them in a torch and next time you need them they'll be dead :(
    • Rated in Nanoamps (Score:3, Informative)

      by BigSlowTarget (325940)

      It would be great to replace the power packs of everything with them, but they are currently rated in nanoamps of output and microvolts of potential. Scaling them up (and making them cost less than $1 million for a AA cell) is the challenge and its a big one that will take a lot of work.

      Shielding isn't a big problem incidentally.From other articles one of the popular nuclear sources is tritium which is used on gunsights and stairwell markings. Half life is pretty short and shielding level required is skin

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fincan (989293)

      So lets scale these up and replace the power pakcs on cars!

      I would love to be able to drive for a few hundred years between recharges!

      Screw the car, I want this on my next laptop.

  • by RealErmine (621439) <commerce AT wordhole DOT net> on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:35AM (#29691637)
    but I would be equally impressed by a penny that was the size of a nuclear power plant.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A penny saved is a penny used to crush your foes. Or for giant gumballs.
  • The announcement says that these nuclear batteries have power densities a million times larger than standard batteries. That can't possibly be right unless it meant energy density instead.

    Cool stuff even so!

  • by bmo (77928) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:36AM (#29691655)

    Everything is safe under "normal conditions"

    The problem is that normal people are fucking stupid. Imagine the shitstorm when someone disassembles one of these to "see what's inside."

    --
    BMO

    • ...or puts one in a laptop :?

    • by Dunbal (464142)

      Already been done [wikipedia.org]. Guess he was one of the first "researchers".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bmo (77928)

        I got modded "funny" for proposing a scenario where a guy contaminates everything he touches because he disassembled one of these types of battery.

        They found traces of Po210 *everywhere* in the case of Litvinenko, even on the plane the assassin flew in. The assassin was trained in how to handle Po210 so he wouldn't kill himself yet he left traces of Po210 all the way from Moscow.

        I know there are Po210 based anti-static brushes that professional photographers use. These are sealed, and your typical mouthbr

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Lueseiseki (1189513)

      Everything is safe under "normal conditions"

      The problem is that normal people are fucking stupid. Imagine the shitstorm when someone disassembles one of these to "see what's inside."

      -- BMO

      Saying that is like implying that everything is intrinsically safe, and it's humans which will invariably mess things up just because it's possible. In a way you're right, people will do stupid things regardless, but things are designed/exist as (less) safer than other things. Guns kill people under normal conditions, knives cut people under normal conditions, tear gas aggrivates parts of peoples' eyes under normal conditions.

    • by Tweenk (1274968)

      Glow in the dark toys and stickers, as well as watches with phosphorescent hands, contain radioactive isotopes (mainly thorium). The amount of radioactive material in those batteries is likely on par with the aforementioned items. Remember that the intended use for those is to power extremely tiny devices that need to operate constantly, not to replace AA batteries, so the required amount of power is very small.

    • by jank1887 (815982)

      You mean like some stupid person decides to order a ton of smoke detectors, remove all the Americium, and build himself a reactor in his back yard. That would NEVER happen [wikipedia.org]. Well, only with a stupid person. Never an Eagle scout. Never ever.

    • The problem is that normal people are fucking stupid. Imagine the shitstorm when someone disassembles one of these to "see what's inside."

      I think that would make for an interesting episode of "Will it blend?". Up this week: a nuclear battery!
  • [...] nuclear power sources have already been safely powering a variety of devices, such as pacemakers [...]

    Come on now, Iron Man isn't real!

  • Ya Ok.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drewsup (990717) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:42AM (#29691761)
    Just don't let Sony make them.. imagine the fireworks then!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dunbal (464142)

      Yikes, I'd hate to have one of those batteries do a "China Syndrome" through my lap.

      Then again, I could probably heat my greenhouse with one during winter.

  • Foundation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by locallyunscene (1000523) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:49AM (#29691881)
    One of the things that always stuck out at me was the mini nuclear batteries in the Foundation series of books. I had just assumed such things were impossible and were just and artifact of the time the books were written in. Apparently my imagination just wasn't flexible enough.
    • by CoreDump (1715)
      I thought of the same thing when I read the article. "Gee, that sounds like the miniaturized nuclear devices the Foundation created!". Science Fiction again becoming science reality. Cool.
    • by necro81 (917438)
      The Soviets powered some remote sensing stations and lighthouses in Siberia [wikipedia.org] with nuclear batteries.
  • Good, and now let me actually have a cellular phone that can actually be powered for 100s of years. Because I'm tired of these news articles that claim some new more powerful battery is invented. Batteries are NOT more powerful until I see a cellular phone that can run for months. Cellular phones today do NOT run any longer than 15 years ago so every of the so MANY articles about better batteries I've seen are all just lies. Plain damn LIES.
    • Oh, you know darned well that "100s of years" is, like, on standby when you're in a totally great signal area. It'll still only last 4-6 hours if your surfing and playing flash games on it. ;-)

    • > Good, and now let me actually have a cellular phone that can actually be powered for 100s of years

      Yeah, because you'll keep using the same phone for hundreds of years.
  • "The batteries are safe under normal operating conditions."

    Ergo, instant nuclear bomb; just add sledge hammer. ;)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, this isn't even close to accurate. Nuclear chain-reactions only occur under a very specific set of conditions, and some guy with a sledgehammer doesn't come close to qualifying.

      I know you were half joking and not entirely serious, but it's this sort of ignorance that the idiotic population cling to as an argument not to use nuclear power, thereby holding us back for decades in using a plentiful, clean, and efficient source of power.

      Of course, the same idiots that hate the pollution produced by coal po

  • by Air-conditioned cowh (552882) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:52AM (#29691945)
    Just curious. I had a quick look at the University website but couldn't find anything. This article gives a bit more info on it, http://engineering.missouri.edu/news/stories/2009/nuclear-battery-outstanding-at-conference/index.php [missouri.edu].
    • by Dan East (318230) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:05AM (#29692167) Homepage Journal

      The "problem" is that the current would not be variable. The amount of electrons produced would be consistent (or perhaps slowly reduce as the elements decay). The article says that it contains a "million times as much charge as standard batteries". True, but it might take 100 years of decay to produce those electrons.
      So this would be fine for something that draws a consistent amount of current, like a wristwatch (not counting the backlight), but for most applications this power source would have to be coupled with an actual battery or capacitor to store the continuously emitted electrons for use on demand, or to provide bursts of current, etc.

      So this would be more like a trickle battery charger than an actual battery.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:35AM (#29692741)

        According to http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/10/liquid-nuclear-battery-that-could-have.html, which quotes the published paper, the battery provides 16.2 nW, has open-circuit voltage of 899 mV, and short-circuit current of 107.4 nA. When they talk about micro- and nano-mechanical applications, they're not kidding. It would take a stack of 61,728,395 of them to provide 1 watt.

  • Niche applications (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Painted (1343347) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:56AM (#29692013) Homepage
    There are a number of niche applications where this could be incredibly useful. As others have said, pacemakers and other implanted or critical medical devices (I'm thinking defibrillators), but also emergency lighting and well, pretty much anything that has a larger, traditional battery pack that has to be trickle charged.

    A fairly obvious application would be long-life smoke detectors, since they already contain radioactive materials. You could stick one up on a vaulted ceiling and forget about it for 10 years...
    • sudo mod this guy up. any number of chemical monitoring devices could benefit greatly from this sort of thing.
    • Ok, maybe I'm jumping the gun on this one, but in a recent /. article about phones not having enough battery life, I sort of tongue-in-cheek proposed atomic batteries [slashdot.org] for powering the phones. Maybe I'm not so far off the mark?

      I'm not sure though - these batteries might not provide sufficiently high wattage to power the phones? Still, maybe you could have self-recharging cell phones? Couple one or two of these small atomic batteries with something more conventional, like Li-ions, (or, in the future, perhaps

  • They already glow with the batteries they have now! But at least that is a pink/red glow, I'm pretty sure an iPod glowing green would be a Bad Thing (tm).

    That said, having the black/white iPod commercials change to black/green would be interesting. Kind of bring back the black/green monochrome monitor nostalga.

  • .... or are you just happy to see me?

    [obligatory... i'm sorry]

    • Hey! That's a good idea, actually.

      Enough nuclear devices in enough pants pockets and you could helps solve the over-population problem! No more sperm to worry about!

      Either that, our your children turn out hideously ugly.

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:13AM (#29692293) Homepage Journal

    'However, nuclear power sources have already been safely powering a variety of devices, such as pacemakers, space satellites, and underwater systems.'"

    If this quote even reaches only one anti-nuclear nutjob and opens their eyes, just a little, to the benefits that nuclear energy can provide when handled safely and appropriately, then the world will be a slightly better place. This message needs to get spread around and stated by every single physicist, engineer, mathematician, and wrench monkey that works in any field associated with nuclear energy. It needs to be stated in every single press conference, peer-reviewed journal, and twitter feed by anyone talking about the subject that has any authority. Simply by throwing this short little blip into his discussion, Jae Wan Kwon has already earned more respect in my eyes than Michio Kaku...

  • You know, this sounds distinctly like the sort of power sources that were ubiquitous in a lot of Asimov's sci-fi, e.g., the foundation series. When I was reading that, I noted that he clearly thought that shortly everything in society would run on nuclear power. In one book, they even talked about the decay of a society until, gasp!, they went back to primitive fossil fuels. I figure that irrational fear of nuclear power and radiation is one reason why this has not come to pass, but maybe now it will.

  • I'll be able to find my hearing aid at night and I'll never have to change the battery for the rest of my life!
  • by mrnick (108356) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:32AM (#29692689) Homepage

    Something that produces energy from the decay of radioisotopes is called a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) whereas a battery is an array of electrochemical cells for electricity storage.

    3 Mile Island and more recently Chernobyl have our society so afraid of nuclear power, the dreaded China syndrome, that regardless of how safe it becomes we will refuse to adopt it.

    RTG technology is the safest way to produce energy and the greenest energy known to man. It takes something that would otherwise be dangerous and turns it into something productive. NASA uses this technology to power space probes, Voyager-1 is still being powered by one today, and will continue to do so until the year 2025. Plutonium 238 is the best fuel for a RTG, because of its long half-life and the fact that it cannot (yes CANNOT) sustain a chain reaction is somehow any of it started to fuse.

    I looked into this technology when I built a mini robotic submarine in graduate school. But, that's when I found out two things: 1) I would have to submit to an anal probe before the Nuclear Regulatory Commiseration (NRC) would denied me the right to posses any more radioactive material than can be found in about 3 smoke detectors and 2) The room, labeled radioactive storage, in the Science building, where I attended University, with the big yellow radioactive sign is there to impress benefactors and since it lacks a smoke detector contains no radioactive material (LOL).

    Improvements in power generation from nuclear fuel has become pretty safe over the last few years. Pebble bed reactor technology can theoretically remain stable indefinitely even without external cooling, though I don't think that has been put to the test. But, to be a viable energy solution a country really needs to adopt this method on mass because each reactor can only power a portion of a city so to be a major benefit a country would have one of these in everyone's backyard. RTG technology is even safer. It generates energy from the heat that occurs from the natural decay of a nuclear fuel.

    If I could get my hands on say an ounce of Pu 238 I could build a RTG that would power my home, all my vehicles, and enable me to quit my job and live of the check my local electricity provider would have to pay me for the excess power I would generate. It would generate full power for ~ 87 years and not only wold I be using the greenest power available I would be providing a community service of disposing of a radioactive material.

    But, echelon might flag me for even writing this post (looks around nervously)... The irrational fear of a China Syndrome scenario combined with the recent dose of terrorism (fear of dirty bombs) would never allow me to build one, even if I was a nuclear scientist, which I am not.

    So, make an inventory of the smoke detectors you own. If the total is above 3 then you are in possession of enough nuclear material that would require you to get a license from the NRC. If you don't have a license from the NRC and own more than 3 smoke detectors you are likely in possession of an illegal amount of barium and could be flagged as an enemy combative and thanks to George W. Bush enemy combative have no right to any legal representation and can be summarily executed or detained for an indefinite amount of time without even informing anyone that they took you into custody.

    Heck, I don't need smoke detectors that much!

    Nick Powers

    • WRONG (Score:5, Informative)

      by noisyinstrument (1624451) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:11AM (#29693395) Homepage

      Something that produces energy from the decay of radioisotopes is called a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) whereas a battery is an array of electrochemical cells for electricity storage.

      You didn't read the article.

      The batteries use Sulfur-35 which is a beta emitter. Aka, electrons. They do not use thermocouples at all.

      Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betavoltaics [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Urza9814 (883915)

      "So, make an inventory of the smoke detectors you own. If the total is above 3 then you are in possession of enough nuclear material that would require you to get a license from the NRC. If you don't have a license from the NRC and own more than 3 smoke detectors you are likely in possession of an illegal amount of barium and could be flagged as an enemy combative and thanks to George W. Bush enemy combative have no right to any legal representation and can be summarily executed or detained for an indefinit

  • Pacemaker power? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:42AM (#29692877)

    nuclear power sources have already been safely powering a variety of devices, such as pacemakers

    Considering my pacemaker battery needs replacing every 5 years (and I'm just 41) by cutting into my shoulder, I'd like very much to know more.

  • by jameskojiro (705701) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:57AM (#29694209) Journal

    They really need to declassify Beta Decay Isotoped lighter than Iron as Dangerous or terrorist materials. Beta Decay is pretty damned harmless and you cannot use it to 'Breed" other nuclear materials like you can with Neutron/Gamma/ or even alpha decay sources. Also if the decay substance is an element lighter than iron you cannot get any usable energy out of it if it Fissions. You can only get energy out of it by having the neutrons decay into Protons and eject a electron. (electricity which can be used)

    Electrons will never get inside the core of another atom to change the atomic structure and therefor are not useful at all when it comes to making inert elements radioactive.

    Maybe we could make large Nuclear waste processing plants that use heavy volatile elements that gamma or neutron decay to breed large amounts of light elements that beta decay, then ship the material to regional "power plants" that are nothing more than large Light element Nuclear RTG/Beta batteries.

    The greenie weenies would never stand to let such a project be built because they are weenies.

     

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