Diamonds Can Now Convert Nuclear Waste into Clean Batteries

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A team of scientists at the University of Bristol have reportedly developed a groundbreaking battery that could potentially redefine the way we view electricity generation and energy storage in the long-term. The researchers addressed the problem of nuclear waste, and conceptualized a new type of battery that would use man-made diamonds that could transform the waste into nuclear energy in the absence of contamination.

According to Professor of Materials Tom Scott, the process directly generates electricity.

“There are no moving parts involved, no emissions generated and no maintenance required," Scott explains. "By encapsulating radioactive material inside diamonds, we turn a long-term problem of nuclear waste into a nuclear-powered battery and a long-term supply of clean energy.”

Whilst the team used a working prototype using Nickel-63 before, they have started to use a radioactive version of carbon with carbon-14 as they push towards improving efficiency.

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Dr. Neil Fox, professor in the School of Chemistry explains that carbon-14 was chosen for its ability to emit a short-range radiation, which allows it to be quickly absorbed by any solid material.

"This would make it dangerous to ingest or touch with your naked skin, but safely held within diamond, no short-range radiation can escape,” says Dr. Fox. “In fact, diamond is the hardest substance known to man, there is literally nothing we could use that could offer more protection.”

Though the diamond battery offers a lower power than conventional batteries, it can last for thousands of years – a feat no other battery in the world has ever matched. Indeed, such a lifetime would deem these batteries excellent choices for pacemakers, satellites, spacecraft and structural sensors, in an endless list of potential uses.

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