Nano-diamond batteries and the future of power generation

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Researchers have claimed that nano-diamond batteries could last 28,000 years. Such batteries would not only be beneficial for the world of electric cars and mobile phones, but their application would also be useful in aerospace and medical technology. This article discusses the development, commercialization and application of new nano-diamond batteries.

In 2016, at the annual conference of the Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol, researchers demonstrated for the first time a new technology that could use nuclear waste to generate energy. They named their product “diamond batteries”. In 2020, a California-based startup, NDB, developed a highly efficient nano-diamond battery that could last up to 28,000 years without recharging. This battery is also based on the use of nuclear waste.

Diamond Batteries

Commonly available power generation technologies use energy to move a magnet through a coil of wire to produce a current. However, the diamond battery can generate current when placed near a radioactive source. A team of researchers from the University of Bristol have developed a man-made diamond. This material can generate low electrical power when placed under the influence of a radioactive field.

Cabot Institute researchers used nickel-63 as a radioactive source to demonstrate a prototype “diamond battery.” The radioactive source is encapsulated in diamond to produce a nuclear-powered battery. However, the team considered using radioactive carbon-14 to achieve a more efficient battery. Tom Scott, professor of materials at the University of Bristol, explained the benefits of the technology. He said the technology would involve the long-term generation of clean energy from nuclear waste and would be maintenance-free as there are no moving parts or emissions.

Development of nano-diamond batteries by NDB

In 2020, NDB announced two proof-of-concept tests conducted at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. As noted above, the NDB’s nano-diamond battery used nuclear waste to generate power. The radioactive core is protected by several layers of synthetic diamonds or polycrystalline diamond.

Polycrystalline diamond is an exceptionally heat-conducting material. This material can also contain the radiation inside the device. The use of polycrystalline diamond makes the nano-diamond battery extremely durable and tamper-proof.

The technologies behind the development of nano-diamond batteries that guarantee radiological, thermal and mechanical safety are described below:

  • Diamond Nuclear Voltaic (DNV) is a device made of a semiconductor. The individual units are connected to form a stacked arrangement and fabricated to create a positive and negative contact surface analogous to a standard battery system. This design improves the overall efficiency of the system, which includes the generation of a substantial amount of electricity and a multi-layered security shield for the product.
  • All radioactive isotopes can produce large amounts of thermal energy. A single crystalline diamond (SCD) in the DNV unit and the strategic placement of the radioactive source between the DNV units prevents self-absorption of heat by the radioisotope.
  • NDB technology used alpha, beta and neutron radiation using boron-10 doping, helping to convert the extra neutron into alpha ray. This design also allows for the rapid conversion of radiation into usable electricity.
  • The advanced flexible structural design allows it to take any shape depending on its application. This feature makes NDB extremely market-friendly.
  • The use of radioactive waste is a subject that many have not studied. NDB uses radioactive waste and reuses it through reprocessing and recycling. This technology ensures sustainability and results in a clean source of energy, and achieving this goal has the added benefit of ensuring environmental safety.

Researchers believe this technology would reduce the costs and challenges of storing nuclear waste in the most useful form. NDB envisioned the coexistence of innovation and the restoration of a healthy environment. The implementation of their innovative technology would improve living standards and pave the way for the development of environmentally friendly, green and sustainable energy.

Applications of nano-diamond batteries

Automotive: This battery could revolutionize the world of electric cars. The researchers believe that this technology will benefit the electric car industry due to its immense longevity and efficiency, unlike any other existing batteries.

medical technology: These batteries could contribute enormously to medical devices, especially implantable devices, for example, pacemakers and hearing aids. The long life of nano-diamond batteries would be extremely beneficial for patients using such medical implants.

Aerospace: Recent advancements in space technology include the development of electric aircraft which has created the demand for long-lasting and safe batteries. Space vehicles and satellites are currently powered by solar energy, which is subject to a destabilizing space environment. NDB powers electric planes, drones and space stations for a longer period.

Electronic: The use of NDB for feed standard electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones eliminate the need to constantly charge these devices. NDB claims that the use of their product would benefit consumers by providing devices independent of power outlets and increasing the personal quantum computing and computing power of the device.

Defense: NDB can be used in surveillance systems and electronics.

The future of nano-diamond batteries

As our daily life heavily depends on battery-powered mobile devices, there is a rapid increase in the demand for efficient and cost-effective batteries. Conventional batteries have several concerns, including global warming and waste buildup. Nano-diamond batteries overcome these limitations of conventional batteries in terms of longevity and wide applications. Dr John Shawe-Taylor, from the University College of London, said the technology could be the solution to the global energy crisis with “near zero environmental impact and energy transport costs”. .

The NDB team has announced that the first commercial battery prototype will be available later this year. They further expressed the high demand for their product by stating that many organizations including aerospace companies and a leader in nuclear fuel cycle products are lined up as customers.

References and further reading

NDB Technology [Online] Available at: https://ndb.technology/

The University of Bristol (2016) ‘The Diamond Age’ of electricity generation as nuclear batteries developed. [Online] Bristol University. Available at: https://phys.org/news/2016-11-diamond-age-power-nuclear-batteries.html

Chatterjee, Abhishek. (2020) A battery made from nuclear waste that can last 28,000 years. [Online] Hindu times. Available at: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/a-battery-made-from-nuclear-waste-that-can-last-28000-years/article32484905.ece

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author expressed privately and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the terms of use of this website.


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