Reliable and long-last batteries are crucial in this modern age when virtually everything, from flashlights used in camping trips to laptops and cellphones, needs a power source. No wonder consumers often look for batteries that last longer and have better efficiency.
A highly efficient battery, better than the ones currently on the market, may soon become available as scientists have finally developed a water-based nuclear battery that lasts longer and is more efficient.
In a study published in the journal Nature on June 11, Jae Kwon and Baek Hyun Kim, both from the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri, created a nuclear battery that uses a water-based solution.
The device is the first ever nuclear battery to use radiolysis, the splitting of water molecules using radiation, to generate electric current at lower temperatures and higher levels of energy than what was previously possible, albeit it is not the first nuclear battery to be created. With its capacity, the battery could eventually be used for a wide array of operations that need an efficient power source, including those that require much energy, such as cars and even spacecraft.
"Water acts as a buffer and surface plasmons created in the device turned out to be very useful in increasing its efficiency," Kwon said. "The ionic solution is not easily frozen at very low temperatures and could work in a wide variety of applications including car batteries and, if packaged properly, perhaps spacecraft."
The researchers created the battery using strontium-90, a radioactive isotope that improves the electrochemical energy generated in the water-based solution. They also incorporated a titanium dioxide electrode, an element that can be found in sunscreen and UV protection products, with a platinum coating that efficiently converts collected energy into electrons.
Liquids serve as media for the conversion of energy from radioisotopes. Free radicals in liquid, which are produced by beta radiation, can be used for generating energy.
The researchers believe their findings pave the way for developing "next-generation power sources."
Kwon and Kim also addressed concerns over the dangers of nuclear power saying that controlled nuclear technologies are not essentially dangerous. They cited that this technology already has many commercial uses that can be found in products present in people's homes and commercial buildings, such as those in fire detectors and emergency exit signs.