Beijing-based Betavolt has made a breakthrough in the field of nuclear energy by announcing the creation of an entirely new nuclear battery. According to the start-up, this battery – less than the size of a coin – incorporates 63 nuclear isotopes and can produce electricity for 50 years, without requiring recharging or maintenance. A technical feat which represents a major advance in the miniaturization of atomic energy.
The longer the better
The battery, currently in pilot testing, is intended for mass production for a large number of commercial uses. Betavolt envisions uses in areas such as aerospace, medical equipment, microprocessors, advanced sensors, small drones and micro-robots. “ This innovation will help China gain a competitive advantage in the new round of AI technology revolution », believes the company.
The Betavolt nuclear cell works by converting the energy released by the decay of isotopes into electricity, a method explored as far back as the last century. Unlike previous versions, expensive and bulky, used in space or for isolated scientific stations, the Betavolt battery is compact and intended to be economical.
In addition to its reduced size, this battery has several advantages worthy of interest: its multi-layer design makes it insensitive to shock, and it presents no risk of fire or explosion. It also operates in extreme conditions, from -60°C to 120°C. Nuclear requires, the fears are obviously significant but Betavolt emphasizes the safety of its battery which would not produce any external radiation. Enough to adapt it to medical devices implanted in the human body, such as pacemakers.
The company plans to produce a battery with a power of one watt by 2025. The use of these batteries in series could completely change the autonomy of mobile devices: we can thus envisage smartphones which would never need to be recharged again.
In addition to its technical performance, the Betavolt nuclear battery stands out for its ecological advantages, promises the startup. After their decay period, the 63 isotopes transform into a stable isotope of copper, non-radioactive and harmless to the environment.
Betavolt has not yet announced a precise timetable for the commercialization of its nuclear battery. Nevertheless, this advance represents an important milestone in the search for sustainable and compact energy solutions, and it allows China to take the lead in the sector knowing that research institutions in the United States and Europe are also working on the development nuclear batteries.
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