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Nuclear batteries
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Tiny 'nuclear batteries' unveiled
A team of researchers in the US has demonstrated a tiny battery powered by the decay of radioactive isotopes.

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EEStor's barium-titanate battery-ultracapacitor hybrid
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A Texas company says it can make a new ultracapacitor power system to replace the electrochemical batteries in everything from cars to laptops.
A secretive Texas startup developing what some are calling a "game changing" energy-storage technology broke its silence this week. It announced that it has reached two production milestones and is on track to ship systems this year for use in electric vehicles.
EEStor's ambitious goal, according to patent documents, is to "replace the electrochemical battery" in almost every application, from hybrid-electric and pure-electric vehicles to laptop computers to utility-scale electricity storage.
The company boldly claims that its system, a kind of battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate powders, will dramatically outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market in terms of energy density, price, charge time, and safety. Pound for pound, it will also pack 10 times the punch of lead-acid batteries at half the cost and without the need for toxic materials or chemicals, according to the company.

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BetaBatt
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BetaBatt is a Houston-based company in the business of developing long-lasting reliable power sources. The Company has researched and patented a novel 3D energy conversion architecture named the DECTM Cell, based on nano-scale porous silicon. The DECTM Cell is able to convert decay electrons to electricity 10 times more efficiently than conventional 2D devices using standard semiconductor manufacturing methods. The company's first commercial product, a quarter size battery with a 12-20 year lifespan and mission critical reliability, has performance characteristics that address current problems faced by medical implant, oil and gas, and remote sensing industries, as well as military and space organizations. Going forward, BetaBatt intends to apply its novel architecture to Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS), Mesh Networks, Smart Dust and other micro/nano architectures requiring long-lasting reliable power sources.

The new type of battery based on the radioactive decay of nuclear material is 10 times more powerful than similar prototypes and should last a decade or more without a charge, scientists announced this week. The longevity would make the battery ideal for use in pacemakers or other surgically implanted devices, developers say, or it might power spacecraft or deep-sea probes. You might also find these nuclear batteries running sensors and other small devices in your home in a few years.
Such devices "don't consume much power, and yet having to replace the battery every so often is a real pain in the neck." - Philippe Fauchet, University of Rochester electrical engineer.
The batteries could last a dozen years. They're being developed at Rochester, and the technology has been licensed by BetaBatt Inc.

The technology is called betavoltaics. It uses a silicon wafer to capture electrons emitted by a radioactive gas, such as tritium. It is similar to the mechanics of converting sunlight into electricity in a solar panel. Until now, betavoltaics has been unable to match solar-cell efficiency. The reason is simple: When the gas decays, its electrons shoot out in all directions. Many of them are lost.
"For 50 years, people have been investigating converting simple nuclear decay into usable energy, but the yields were always too low. We've found a way to make the interaction much more efficient, and we hope these findings will lead to a new kind of battery that can pump out energy for years."
Fauchet's team took the flat silicon surface, where the electrons are captured and converted to a current, and turned it into a three-dimensional surface by adding deep pits. Each pit is about 1 micron wide. That's four ten-thousandths of an inch. They're more than 40 microns deep. Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen. Mixed with chemicals that emit light, it is used to illuminate exit signs without electricity the sort commonly found in schools and other public buildings.
"It is safe and can be implanted in the body. The energetic particles emitted by tritium do not penetrate inside the skin."
Tritium emits only low-energy particles "that can be shielded by very thin materials, such as a sheet of paper. The hermetically-sealed, metallic BetaBattery cases will encapsulate the entire radioactive energy source, just like a normal battery contains its chemical source so it cannot escape."

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