Current major energy and power sources like fossil fuels, alternative and renewable energies as well as batteries have their own limitations. Fossil fuels and batteries use conflict-sourced materials that are not eco-friendly and are running out of supply. While renewable energy sources such as solar panels are dependent on weather to generate energy this new cutting-edge start-up’s product is not and might be the future of batteries.
The California-based startup NDB (nano-diamond battery) has unveiled a battery that uses nuclear waste and provides thousands of years of charge. The power of the nano-diamond battery comes from radioactive isotopes used in nuclear reactors. Its radioactive core is protected by multiple layers of synthetic diamonds, one of the hardest materials to damage or break.
The idea of using nuclear fuel for batteries dates back to the 50s of the 20th century. The so called RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generator) was invented in 1954 by Mound Laboratories scientists Ken Jordan and John Birden. RTGs have been used as power sources in satellites, space probes, and uncrewed remote facilities such as a series of lighthouses built by the former Soviet Union inside the Arctic Circle. The United States Air Force uses RTGs to power radar systems predominantly located in Alaska and in space craft power supply. RTGs were used with Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, New Horizons, and the Mars Science Laboratory. They also powered the two Viking landers and the scientific experiments left on the Moon by the crews of Apollo 12 through 17.
The new NDB battery is 14.29 times more efficient than the RTGs achieving a breakthrough 40% charge, which is a significant improvement over commercial diamonds with 15% charge collection efficiency. This as a result comes from its proprietary nano-diamond surface treatment that actively extracts the electric charge from the diamond, allowing the battery to make use of significantly more power than any other battery before it. The energy is absorbed in the diamond through inelastic scattering, which is used to generate electricity.
Unlike lithium ion batteries, which constantly need to be recharged and have a limited lifetime, the future batteries NDB can operate without an external power source and its charge lasts the entire lifetime of a device or a machine.
The battery can be used to power devices and machines of any size, from aircraft and rockets to electric vehicles and smartphones.
One of the key innovations of NDB is its highly sophisticated safety feature covering the three most important aspects of thermal, mechanical and radiation safety. The battery system uses several concepts to ensure maximum safety of the device.
“NDB has the potential to solve the major global issue of carbon emissions in one stroke without the expensive infrastructure projects, energy transportation costs, or negative environmental impacts associated with alternate solutions such as carbon capture at fossil fuel power stations, hydroelectric plants, turbines, or nuclear power stations. Their technology’s ability to deliver energy over very long periods of time without the need for recharging, refueling, or servicing puts them in an ideal position to tackle the world’s energy requirements through a distributed solution with close to zero environmental impact and energy transportation costs.” Dr. John Shawe-Taylor, UNESCO Chair and University College London Professor
Development of the first NDB commercial prototype battery is currently underway and will be available later this year. This product seems to be poised to completely transform the future of the batteries and why not the whole concept of energy as we know it.
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