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NDB batteries are now in the space industry

Time is running at an impressive speed. Every day some inventions contribute to improving the life of mankind and move technological progress forward. Today we will speak about battery technology news and get acquainted with such an innovative invention as the NDB battery. Synthetic nanodiamonds are an unusual material that makes up the body. The radioactive core is located inside the case, it is made from already spent nuclear waste. In a simple way-carbon-14. It is widely used in nuclear medicine and the diagnosis of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. By itself, a nuclear reactor that uses water in the core is a source of carbon-14.

The dedicated power supply does not pose any danger to the environment or humans as a whole. The diamond shell of the rod acts as a protection against damage, while the radiation does not fade. The excess energy that was generated by the battery accumulates in the so-called buffer tank. The developers proposed a supercapacitor for this, but the same lithium-ion battery can act as a drive here. Just imagine: your smartphone no longer needs to be charged. It’s self-loading!

The entire competitive range of these batteries that exists today has an efficiency of no more than 15%. In comparison, the efficiency of the NDB battery is 40%.

NDB battery composition

There are three main components in the composition of the battery. One of them is a diamond, the other two are radioactive. Diamond is an artificial material, which is why the cost is not sky-high.

Synthetic materials have been used for many years in the industry. They are created in the laboratory and their characteristics are very close to natural ones. At the same time, their cost is a couple of dozen times lower.

Regarding the radioactive elements, there are isotopes of nickel and carbon with a fairly long half-life. For carbon-14, the period is 5700 years, for nickel from 63 to 100 years. These two isotopes in combination allow you to increase the battery life.

Diamonds act as electrodes. Isotopes act as a generator of beta radiation, but at the same time diamonds produce an electric current. Therefore, to protect the environment, the element is placed in a metal shell. Materials such as plexiglass, glass, and metals cannot pass beta radiation. Therefore, the most ordinary aluminum is enough to design a safe battery, which belongs to the beta-galvanic.

In the case when the elements are used only in the space industry, there should be no problems with the issue of disposal – the systems are sent to space and other planets. If you use diamond batteries on Earth, you will have to develop the safest and reliable processing process.

There is always something to improve

Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. The battery is no exception. At the same time, the advantages are undeniable.

To begin with, radioactive elements are taken from the waste of nuclear power plants. The carbon-14 isotope is widely used in most industrial sectors, most often in science and medicine. It is used for radioisotope dating and the diagnosis of certain diseases.

At the same time, it is difficult to store nuclear power plant waste with carbon-14, which tends to accumulate on the graphite rods of the reactor, and this requires considerable costs because special protection methods are needed. If the batteries are put on stream, then the problem with waste is partially solved.

The next point is that the battery is durable and you can forget about worrying about the energy reserve.

An important advantage is the reliability of the elements. There is nothing that could break unless of course there is no external mechanical impact. Here is a comment left by Satoshi Koizumi, one of the authors of this project and an employee of NIMS: “This is a unique development that continues its work even at high temperatures, which allows it to be used in space technology, as well as machines whose purpose is mineral exploration.”

Another advantage: the design of the diamond-based battery is simpler than the design of the RTG, which contains plutonium, which is currently used in spacecraft.

In addition to all the above, the battery has a low level of power consumption. The existing prototype at the moment can produce only one microwatt of power, in this case, to provide energy to the spacecraft, either a huge battery or an improvement of the element is needed. This is what the NIMS experts are planning to work on soon.

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