Economy, Sci & Tech

Nuclear Waste Turned Into Diamond Batteries

Nuclear Waste Turned Into Diamond BatteriesNuclear Waste Turned Into Diamond Batteries

Scientists have developed a new way to use diamonds to convert old nuclear waste into long-lasting usable batteries, according to a research publication in the United Kingdom. 

Up till now, nuclear waste has been one of the worst forms of leftover material to manage, with specialized centers, like that of Britain’s Sellafield in the county of Cumbria, to deal with the dangerous material and remove heavy water from existing power plants. 

In the same country, researchers from the University of Bristol discovered technology, which transforms thousands of tons of nuclear waste into safe lab-grown diamond batteries, which are capable of generating and holding electricity – albeit small, according to online green energy journal Inhabitat. 

Dubbed the “Diamond Age” of battery power, the technology created from nuclear waste, plus the minuscule amount of radioactive energy, enables a low-current battery to be created which can last, according to the researchers, well over one thousand years. 

The team behind the new-age discovery unveiled their findings on December 2 at a lecture at Bristol’s Cabot Institute with researchers from across several industries in attendance. 

While traditional batteries require coils and wires to work, the diamond-based battery needs only to be placed near a radioactive source to begin charging and then generating electrical currents. The team added that due to not having moving parts the battery would be far more durable in the long-run. 

The new diamond-based batteries may also usher in a new era of safe nuclear waste disposal, and do away with places like Sellafield, which have become a bugbear of the local community surrounding the site. 

Prototypes of the yet commercialized battery rely entirely on nickel-63 as its primary radiation source, which is encased in human-made diamonds, thus lowering their future cost. Other methods too are likely to come on stream in the next few years including carbon-14 a radioactive version of carbon which can be collected from graphite blocks. 

“There are no moving parts involved, no emissions generated and no maintenance required, just direct electricity generation,” said Tom Scott, Professor in Materials at the University of Bristol’s Interface Analysis Center. “By encapsulating radioactive material inside diamonds, we turn a long-term problem of nuclear waste into a nuclear-powered battery and a long-term supply of clean energy.”

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