NUCLEAR BATTERY: THE ENERGY FUTURE
S.K. ANSARI & SEEMA ANSARI
July 18 - 24, 2011
The terms atomic battery, nuclear battery, tritium battery, and radioisotope generator are used to describe a device, which uses the emissions from a radioactive isotope to generate electricity.
Like nuclear reactors, they generate electricity from atomic energy, but differ in that they do not use a chain reaction. Compared to other batteries they are very costly, but have extremely long life and high energy density, and so they are mainly used as power sources for equipment that must operate unattended for long time, such as spacecraft and automated scientific stations in remote parts of the world.
Batteries can power anything from small sensors to large systems. While scientists are finding ways to make them smaller but even more powerful, problems can arise when these batteries are much larger and heavier than the devices themselves. To provide enough power, it needs certain methods with high energy density. The radioisotope battery can provide power density that is six orders of magnitude higher than chemical batteries.
Batteries using the energy of radioisotope decay to provide long-lived power (10-20 years) are being developed internationally.
Conversion techniques can be grouped into two types: thermal and non-thermal. The thermal converters (whose output power is a function of a temperature differential) include thermoelectric and thermionic generators. The non-thermal converters (whose output power is not a function of a temperature difference) extract a fraction of the incident energy as it is degraded into heat rather than using thermal energy to run electrons in a cycle. Atomic batteries usually have an efficiency of 0.1-5 per cent. High efficiency betavoltaics have 6-8 per cent.
People hear the word 'nuclear' and think of something very dangerous, but the nuclear power sources have already been safely powering a variety of devices such as pacemakers, space satellites and underwater systems.
SMALL NUCLEAR REACTORS ARE BECOMING BIG BUSINESS
When most people think of nuclear power plants, visions of huge complexes like Three Mile Island come to mind. Now companies are rushing to develop a new generation of refrigerator-size nuclear reactors to help meet the world's growing demand for electricity.
Hyperion's price tag is $50 million for a 25-megawatt reactor, more comparable in cost to diesel generators or wind farms. Transportable by truck, the units would come in a sealed box and require less maintenance than a fossil fuel plant. Developers say they would cost 15 percent less per megawatt of capacity than the full-scale atomic reactors. A 25MW plant would put electricity into 20,000 homes, and it would fit inside a normal room.
A thermionic converter consists of a hot electrode which thermionically emits electrons over a space charge barrier to a cooler electrode, producing a useful power output. Caesium vapor is used to optimize the electrode work functions and provide an ion supply (by surface contact ionization) to neutralize the electron space charge.
Non-thermal converters extract a fraction of the nuclear energy as it is degraded into heat. Their outputs are not functions of temperature differences as are thermoelectric and thermionic converters. Non-thermal generators can be grouped into three classes.
* Direct charging generators
DIRECT CHARGING GENERATORS
In the first type, the primary generators consist of a capacitor which is charged by the current of charged particles from a radioactive layer deposited on one of the electrodes. Spacing can be either vacuum or dielectric. Negatively charged beta particles or positively charged alpha particles, positrons or fission fragments may be utilized. Although this form of nuclear-electric generator dates back to 1913, few applications have been found in the past for the extremely low currents and inconveniently high voltages provided by direct charging generators. Oscillator/transformer systems are employed to reduce the voltages, then rectifiers are used to transform the AC power back to direct current.
Betavoltaics are generators of electrical current, in effect a form of battery, which use energy from a radioactive source emitting beta particles (electrons). A common source used is the hydrogen isotope, tritium. Unlike most nuclear power sources, which use nuclear radiation to generate heat, which then generates electricity (thermoelectric and thermionic sources), betavoltaics use a non-thermal conversion process. Betavoltaics are particularly well suited to low-power electrical applications where long life of the energy source is needed such as implantable medical devices or military and space applications.
An optolectric nuclear battery has also been proposed by researchers of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow. A beta-emitter (such as technetium-99) would stimulate an excimer mixture, and the light would power a photocell. The battery would consist of an excimer mixture of argon/xenon in a pressure vessel with an internal mirrored surface, finely-divided Tc-99, and an intermittent ultrasonic stirrer, illuminating a photocell with a band gap tuned for the excimer. The advantage of this design is that precision electrode assemblies are not needed, and most beta particles escape the finely-divided bulk material to contribute to the battery's net power.
Nuclear batteries are known as "radioisotopes batteries". Laptop battery which is through the semiconductor transducer isotopes in the decay process will continue to release heat with a heat-rays into electricity manufactured made. Nuclear batteries have been successfully used to power spacecraft, heart pacemakers power and some special military applications.
In the center of cylinder seals have radioisotope source, the outside is a thermionic converter or thermocouple type transducer. Transducer radiates the outer shield for the outer layer of a metal tube casing.
Decay nuclear batteries in the energy release size, speed, free from the external environment in the temperature, chemical reactions, pressure, electromagnetic fields, and other effects.
Isotope nuclear battery power very long working hours, and may even reach 5,000 years.
Nuclear batteries can be divided into high-voltage type and two types of low voltage type.
1- High-voltage type nuclear batteries containing B-ray source (strontium -90 or tritium) is made of emitter material.
2- Cassini spacecraft's nuclear batteries to promote low-voltage-type nuclear cells are divided into thermopile-type, gas ionization and fluorescence - three kinds of photoelectric-type structure. Ionization-type nuclear cells is the use of radioactive sources to make two kinds of different work function of the ionized gas between the electrode material, IBM 92P1077 Battery and then collected by the bipolar carrier gained power. Such batteries have a higher power.
HEART BEAT ADJUSTMENT DEVICE
Artificial heart with radioisotope power source of the fuel is plutonium -238. In the early 70s, foreign countries launched several probes on Jupiter with nuclear batteries equipped with molybdenum oxide of plutonium and high-performance system. Later Mars probe was also possible because of nuclear batteries.
The meteorological satellite Nimbus was installed radioisotope batteries. This meteorological satellite orbits around the earth and can be used to capture images of clouds, or the right atmosphere and the Earth's surface topography to conduct surveys and investigations.
ENERGY FROM THE NUCLEAR BATTERY
Today most of the engineer and scientist are working for the long duration portable energy like nuclear battery, which can perform for a long duration.
The small reactors, which generate up to 300 megawatts compared to 1500 megawatts for traditional large nuclear power plants are versatile and cheap. One of the smallest reactors-the 25 megawatt Hyperion Power Module will soon fuel subdivisions, mining operations, military bases, hospitals, desalination plants and even cruise liners around the world soon.
Hyperion Power Module is a sealed fission reactor that can supply power to a small community. Although the portable nuclear reactor is the size of a hot tub, when it's hooked up to a steam turbine, the reactor can generate enough electricity to power a community of 25,000 homes for at least five years. As it is self-contained and involves no moving parts, the reactor does not require a human operator and is considered "extremely safe". Some experts, however, are still questioning the logic of using even this relatively safe kind of nuclear energy.
One of the largest problems in the energy industry today is the transmission of power from the large power generating facilities to distant locations. The Hyperion Hydride Reactor is small and portable. According to its developers, the device provides the long-awaited solution to the need for cost-efficient, practical power sources in rural or remote locations. The module is sealed at the factory and is not opened until it needs to be "refueled" (the reactor has a uranium hydride core, surrounded by a hydrogen atmosphere). The manufacturer claims refueling should take place approximately every five years. The precautionary measures of containing the reactor and of completely burying the module at the operating site are designed to minimize the possibility of human incompetence or hostile tampering.
As water is not used in the process, there is no danger of polluting the local water sources. The Hyperion does not produce any greenhouse gases and produces only a tiny fraction of the waste produced by other types of reactors, making it relatively "cleaner". The energy generated by a single Hyperion Hydride Reactor is approximately 27 MW. This is more than five times the output of the strongest wind turbine in the world, which measures 120-meters (394-feet) in height and has a 61.5-meter (200 feet) long rotor blade.
An important advantage of the Hyperion Hydride Reactor over 'green' power sources is that unlike wind turbines or solar cells, it can continue to supply electricity constantly and will not stop producing energy when the wind stops or when there is no sunshine.
While the Hyperion looks like the perfect solution to many problems, anti-nuclear advocates are not convinced by the claims that Hyperion advertises. They state that the financial costs of mining and enriching uranium and of nuclear waste disposal are never completely factored in the calculations, and that having more nuclear materials around might lead to sabotage and theft attempts by terrorists. Despite the criticism against it, the patent for the nuclear fission reactor won the "Outstanding Technology Development" award in October 2003. Hyperion plans on opening a factory in New Mexico by late 2012, where about 4,000 of these reactors will be produced.
ACTUAL DESIGNING OF HYPERION URANIUM HYDRIDE NUCLEAR BATTERY
The Hyperion Power Generation Nuclear Battery is a self contained, automated, liquid metal nuclear reactor.
Each battery provides 70 MW thermal energy or 25 MW electric energy via steam turbine for seven to ten years. This amount of energy provides electricity for 20,000 average American-style homes or the industrial or infrastructure equivalent. Each module will cost $25 to $30 million. This works out to a cost of $1000-1200/KW, but the company has quoted $1400/Kw. A couple of delivery dates starting in 2013 are available. 2012 has been targeted as the time when the first units will be deployed.
Big companies previously examined the patent for this reactor and the primary initial application which would be providing cheaper and more effective heat for oil extraction. Over 2 trillion barrels of oil is available in Canada and the United states in the form of oil shale or oil sand.
Hyperion offers a 70 per cent reduction in operating costs (based on costs for field-generation of steam in oil-shale recovery operations), from $11 per million BTU for natural gas to $3 per million BTU for Hyperion. The possibility of mass production, operation and standardization of design, allows for significant savings. They expect an initial market of 4000 units, which would provide 100GW of power. This is equal to the current nuclear power generated in the USA. There will be 10-40 times less nuclear waste.
WHAT IS INSIDE NUCLEAR BATTERY?
The batteries technology draws their energy from the steady nuclear decay of hydrogen isotopes inside the cells. They are not depleted all at once, but over long time frames of up to a quarter of a century. The instruments could be of significant importance in powering the locks on a nuclear installation, for example, so as to prevent anyone from hampering with the data, or deleting them altogether. The information contained within those facilities is simply too important and sensitive to be lost. Once the batteries detect a breach, they could send an alert signal to a nearby nuclear complex.
Inside the batteries, the hydrogen compound tritium is constantly decaying. As it does so, it releases high-energy electrons, which are also known as beta particles. A semiconductor is then used to capture these electrons, and convert them into low and constant levels of electricity that can then be used to power up a number of devices, depending on needs. The half-life of the isotopes powering the batteries is the main element that determines how long the devices themselves last. Scientists believe that they could endure for any length of time between a few years and a century.
NUCLEAR WASTES ARE THE SOURCE OF RAW MATERIAL FOR NUCLEAR BATTERY
Developers are utilizing nuclear wastes as inputs for manufacturing safe and long lasting nuclear batteries for large scale power generation and for portable devices such as iPods and MP3 players. The atomic car battery is just down the road and will be in use within the next 10-20 years. Nuclear battery can be built in the same size as a standard battery and holds 100,000 times more energy than a standard battery. This development technology is to reduce the electric cost and save our planet by reducing green house gases.
The latest development in the global auto industry is the nuclear cars that never need refueling and only minimal maintenance. You will plug your car into your house and run all your electric needs from your car and when you are at work you will get electric credits from the electric company as you car supplies power to the electric grid.
Nuclear batteries produce 100,000 times the energy over the standard batteries that are in use today. Nuclear batteries can be built to last as long as 3 to 100 years at just about any power level you can think of.
NUCLEAR BATTERY KEEPS GOING, AND GOING...
New devices could put out power for decade or more. A new type of battery based on the radioactive decay of nuclear material is 10 times more powerful than similar prototypes and should last a decade or more without a charge. The longevity would make the battery ideal for use in pacemakers or other surgically implanted devices, or it might power spacecraft or deep-sea probes.
FUTURE NUCLEAR BATTERY THAT LASTS 25 YEARS
One energy source that could serve as an option for devices which are expected to run continuously for years is nuclear batteries. The betavoltaics, nuclear batteries run by harvesting electrons from the natural decay of radioactive sources. The nuclear battery can last up to 25 years because of its ability to withstand radioactive damage. Now the companies are developing a silicon carbide semiconductor technology that comes in the form of a small chip. This provides the higher the efficiency, the lower the device cost, with the smaller the unit volume.