Russian physicists have developed a battery that can convert into electricity the energy of beta decay – emission of electrons of a radioactive element.
A team of researchers from the Moscow Institute of steel and alloys under the guidance of head of the Department of material science of semiconductors and dielectrics, Professor Yuriy Parkhomenko presented prototypes of radioisotope batteries based on technology of energy conversion of beta radiation into electrical energy based on piezoelectric single crystals. Source used radioactive isotope “Nickel-63”. Its half-life is about 100 years old that allows you to create batteries with lifetimes up to 50 years.
Misa presents a prototype nuclear batteries
Such batteries are often referred to as the “nuclear” because they use the process of beta decay, whereby one neutron in the nucleus transforms into a proton by emitting an electron. Although beta decay is one of the types of radiation, people have nothing to fear. Beta radiation in this case has a low penetrating power and are easily stopped by a shell. And used isotope “Nickel-63,” with no accompanying gamma-radiation. So the batteries themselves do not emit radiation and is completely safe.
To compensate for low power of natural beta decay, physicists have used pulsed mode with charge accumulation . In this case, it is possible to provide a continuous output of electric current of 10-100 NW per cubic centimeter of the device. That’s enough power to supply, for example, of the pacemaker.
Due to the long lifetime of the batteries will find application in cases where their replacement is undesirable or impossible: in medicine, nuclear energy, aerospace technology, nano – and microelectronics, systems security and control.
Choice as an energy source of a non-existent isotope “Nickel-63” non-random. In our country also developed a unique technology of its production in special nuclear reactors and enrichment to the required “not less than 80%”. The batteries planned for the Mining and chemical combine in Krasnoyarsk region.
Unique characteristics of the developed device, its compactness and safety allow us to hope for its competitiveness on the market of similar power sources
The only drawback of batteries is the high cost. Because of the high cost of production of Nickel-63 at the initial stage it can amount to several million rubles. However, as the technology and establish a mass production the price will inevitably fall much.
According to the press release nust MISIS