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Battery that stays charged for 30 years.

  1. Jul 27, 2010 #1
    I "stumbledupon" this article this morning.

    A battery that used radioisotopes and is powered by the decay of the radioactive material. Sounds like it would work. Is this legit? If so it seems like a pretty serious innovation. I'm sure this battery if developed for the public would have a lot more use then just laptops.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2010 #2


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    Yes they exist - they are used to power some space probes and used to be used for remote navigational/weather stations
    They have very low power for their size and weight.
  4. Jul 30, 2010 #3
    I've known of three technologies for generating electricity directly from nuclear decay. Back in the late 50's or early 60's, the SNAP generators were developed. They used the heat from the decay to heat one side of a thermo-electric module/modules which in turn produced electricity.

    The Soviets had a technology using the decay to heat a column in a kind of vacuum tube such that thermo electric emmission delivered current.

    Then, there is the holy grail of nuclear batteries which uses semiconductors (like solar cells) to capture energy directly from particals emitted by the nuclear decay. This sounds like the proposed technology. It has suffered a major setback though - the energetic particals damage the semiconductor crystal causing it to loose performance after a short while.
  5. Jul 31, 2010 #4
    Though i didn't want one of those in my lap one hour a day. Or are the beta rays sufficent shielded?

    Anyone know the Wh/kg ratio on these?
  6. Jul 31, 2010 #5
    As I remember from Physics, Beta Rays are simply electrons which may be moving really fast. They don't have much in the way of penetrating power and find a sheet of paper (?) a challenge.
    I suspect that in the process of being blocked, they produce soft x-rays, which in turn are easily blocked.

    As for Wh/kg, I'm pretty sure that's determined by something other than the fuel :)
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