Nano-Tritium Batteries Can Last for Decades
The “charge longevity” of a battery is primarily determined by how much current it can give before it could no longer perform its internal chemical reactions. But even if not used, all batteries still have inherent discharge rates. This means that they lose available “charge space” gradually, regardless of whether it is rechargeable or not. Lithium-ion batteries for example, at optimal conditions are known to last for at least 5 years before succumbing considerably to performance limiting effects.
Of course, we all know that scientists and researchers have been tackling the challenge of extending the service life of batteries, as they have been seeking the ultimate solution for it for quite some time already. In fact there is was a particular breakthrough in the field just recently, and it is presented as an alternative battery that has the potential to last for decades.
Betavoltaics is an energy generating principle by which an electric current is produced by using a radioactive source that emits beta particles. It is different from other nuclear power sources in that it does not use the remnant heat of the radioactive reaction, but instead uses the trail created by the beta particles to directly generate electricity. The most commonly used source is tritium, a well known isotope of hydrogen.
According to this report, the new battery is primarily made up of a layer of radioactive tritium. It is as big as an average adult’s thumb, and the tritium layer is mounted onto a semiconductor material, producing energy using betavoltaics. They were designed by City Labs, and it has been just recently been completed to be able to generate the expected amount of power and electricity.
Lockheed Martin was given the responsibility for testing out the new nano-tritium battery. So, aside from confirming its power generating capabilities, the batteries were also tested on a variety of different conditions and environments to evaluate its durability. During the tests, it was confirmed that the batteries are capable of continued operation even within a wide range of temperature, elevation, and stress (vibration) levels. With combined resilience levels and constant/stable power delivery, it is expected that the nano-tritium battery can last for more than 20 years.
The description for this type of battery can be misleading though, because although it could technically last for decades, it is not actually used to power some of our more energy hungry gadgets. In fact, it is actually only capable of generating a few nanowatts of power. It is primarily designed for very small devices that require very little power to run (but needs to run constantly), such as sensors and implants.
For those who are wondering about the safety of the beta radiation emitted by the battery, there is no need to be alarmed. Unlike the more dangerous promethium (the first radioactive element used in betavoltaics), tritium is a relatively “benign” beta radiation source. In fact, tritium-based betavoltaics is already regularly used and applied to other things like self-powered exit signs, glow sticks, and diver’s watches (see feature image).
Reasons to JOIN US include:
- It's absolutely FREE!
- Get Green Tips You MUST know about.
- How to's on going green, saving money, and having fun.
- Keep up-to-date on our posts in cased you missed them.