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Thread: Battery idea #2

  1. #1 Battery idea #2 
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    1) what would happen if you put a Beta source radioactive material (ex: Strontium 90, Carbon 14, Nickel 63) in a Leyden jar? Would it self-recharge?
    2) What about an alpha source (ex: Am241)? You could fill the jar with helium if you want, as alpha particles are essentially a helium nucleus.


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  3. #2  
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    Alkaline battery provides long life lasting.


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    Quote Originally Posted by remon7 View Post
    Alkaline battery provides long life lasting.
    but not a lot of power, and not as long as this would if I could get it working.
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  5. #4  
    ...matter and pixie dust wegs's Avatar
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    If someone invents a battery than self charges, omg...that would be great. How might that work for a laptop? (I'm being serious)
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    Less battery life, but you could just leave it off for a few hours to recharge it. I'm thinking this would work good for a power source for "off the grid" people, as at, say 10 watts continuously, it would produce almost a quarter of a kilowatt hour per day. Scaled up (to say 60 watts, my goal if I built it), it would be good for electric cars or golf carts. Plug them into your home, and when they are finished charging, the extra power runs your home.
    Maybe not alot of power, but for small equipment, it might be good. Also, enough of them and you never have to pay for electricity again. And they whould be cheaper than solar, and run 24/7/365.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheUnknowable View Post
    Less battery life, but you could just leave it off for a few hours to recharge it. I'm thinking this would work good for a power source for "off the grid" people, as at, say 10 watts continuously, it would produce almost a quarter of a kilowatt hour per day. Scaled up (to say 60 watts, my goal if I built it), it would be good for electric cars or golf carts. Plug them into your home, and when they are finished charging, the extra power runs your home.Maybe not alot of power, but for small equipment, it might be good. Also, enough of them and you never have to pay for electricity again. And they whould be cheaper than solar, and run 24/7/365.
    I love your ideas! Seriously, I've been thinking about some type of "replacement" for batteries. So tired of charging laptops and my iPod and phone as frequently as I need to. The idea of the extra power running your home is intriguing...but how might that work? From a financial savings perspective I mean? How would we end up with no electric bill?There's a television show that's currently running whereby aspiring inventors introduce their concepts to potential investors. Work out some of the wrinkles and details...and your idea might be a hit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheUnknowable View Post
    1) what would happen if you put a Beta source radioactive material (ex: Strontium 90, Carbon 14, Nickel 63) in a Leyden jar? Would it self-recharge?
    No, you would get no net current flow with just a beta emitter in a Leyden jar. However, put it next to a semiconductor and you could excite electrons and generate some current. These devices exist are called betavoltaics. You can get almost a microwatt from commercial devices, with a limit of about 10 microwatts for feasible devices.

    I'm thinking this would work good for a power source for "off the grid" people, as at, say 10 watts continuously
    You're about six orders of magnitude off for that. You might get 10 microwatts with a lot of work and time spent - which is enough to run a digital watch. You'd need thousands to even power an LED.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by wegs View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TheUnknowable View Post
    Less battery life, but you could just leave it off for a few hours to recharge it. I'm thinking this would work good for a power source for "off the grid" people, as at, say 10 watts continuously, it would produce almost a quarter of a kilowatt hour per day. Scaled up (to say 60 watts, my goal if I built it), it would be good for electric cars or golf carts. Plug them into your home, and when they are finished charging, the extra power runs your home.Maybe not alot of power, but for small equipment, it might be good. Also, enough of them and you never have to pay for electricity again. And they whould be cheaper than solar, and run 24/7/365.
    I love your ideas! Seriously, I've been thinking about some type of "replacement" for batteries. So tired of charging laptops and my iPod and phone as frequently as I need to. The idea of the extra power running your home is intriguing...but how might that work? From a financial savings perspective I mean? How would we end up with no electric bill?There's a television show that's currently running whereby aspiring inventors introduce their concepts to potential investors. Work out some of the wrinkles and details...and your idea might be a hit.
    need to build a prototype first.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by billvon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TheUnknowable View Post
    1) what would happen if you put a Beta source radioactive material (ex: Strontium 90, Carbon 14, Nickel 63) in a Leyden jar? Would it self-recharge?
    No, you would get no net current flow with just a beta emitter in a Leyden jar. However, put it next to a semiconductor and you could excite electrons and generate some current. These devices exist are called betavoltaics. You can get almost a microwatt from commercial devices, with a limit of about 10 microwatts for feasible devices.
    Why wouldn't it work? Just saying "that won't work" isn't how science works. You need to show evidence one way or the other.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheUnknowable View Post
    Why wouldn't it work? Just saying "that won't work" isn't how science works. You need to show evidence one way or the other.
    Sorry, to be clear it DOES work - just not by putting them in Leyden jars. These products are being sold today.

    The reason Leyden jars don't work is that most of the energy in beta decay is the speed (and thus energy) of the electrons, not their total charge. In a common solid tritiated material (tritiated lithium hydride) you get an electron flux of about 1 nA/cm"2. So a fairly large jar (say 100 cm^2) would give you 100 na if you could collect all the electrons (unlikely.) If you can get a 100V potential from those electrons you'd be at 10uW. That would be a jar 10cmx3cm, or about 4x the size of a standard 18650 lithium ion battery.

    At a 1C discharge an 18650 can output about 10 watts for an hour. This would output 2.5uW, or more than seven orders of magnitude less in a battery four times larger.

    Thus it is much more efficient to do that other ways. One way is semiconductors; the passage of a high speed electron through silicon creates several electron-hole pairs and a PN junction can separate them. This is how the semiconductor versions work, and why you can theoretically get 10uW from a pretty small device (although current devices are closer to 1uW due to real world losses.)

    Another way is through photovoltaics. A beta emitter "dust" suspended in a high pressure noble gas (argon for example) would result in a narrowband emission of photons as the electrons excite the gas. The light is then converted to electricity via specific bandgap photovoltaics. Due to more complete capture of electron energy you can get considerably more power out. Problems there are you have to keep the dust suspended in the gas (via ultrasonics or something) and if your high pressure gas leaks you get a jet of highly radioactive dust - and if the container ruptures you basically get a dirty bomb.

    Atomic batteries are great for long term low power applications (spacecraft, implanted electronics etc) but are not anywhere close to the power you can get from modern batteries.
    Last edited by billvon; September 10th, 2013 at 10:02 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by billvon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TheUnknowable View Post
    Why wouldn't it work? Just saying "that won't work" isn't how science works. You need to show evidence one way or the other.
    Sorry, to be clear it DOES work - just not by putting them in Leyden jars. These products are being sold today.

    The reason Leyden jars don't work is that most of the energy in beta decay is the speed (and thus energy) of the electrons, not their total charge. In a common solid tritiated material (tritiated lithium hydride) you get an electron flux of about 1 nA/cm"2. So a fairly large jar (say 100 cm^2) would give you 100 na if you could collect all the electrons (unlikely.) If you can get a 100V potential from those electrons you'd be at 10uW. That would be a jar 10cmx3cm, or about 4x the size of a standard 18650 lithium ion battery.

    At a 1C discharge an 18650 can output about 10 watts for an hour. This would output 2.5uW, or more than seven orders of magnitude less in a battery four times larger.

    Thus it is much more efficient to do that other ways. One way is semiconductors; the passage of a high speed electron through silicon creates several electron-hole pairs and a PN junction can separate them. This is how the semiconductor versions work, and why you can theoretically get 10uW from a pretty small device (although current devices are closer to 1uW due to real world losses.)

    Another way is through photovoltaics. A beta emitter "dust" suspended in a high pressure noble gas (argon for example) would result in a narrowband emission of photons as the electrons excite the gas. The light is then converted to electricity via specific bandgap photovoltaics. Due to more complete capture of electron energy you can get considerably more power out. Problems there are you have to keep the dust suspended in the gas (via ultrasonics or something) and if your high pressure gas leaks you get a jet of highly radioactive dust - and if the container ruptures you basically get a dirty bomb.

    Atomic batteries are great for long term low power applications (spacecraft, implanted electronics etc) but are not anywhere close to the power you can get from modern batteries.
    What does the capacity of a material we aren't even using to store electricity have to do with whether or not this will work? Storage capacity doesn't mean a thing when you constantly discharge it or never let it charge up to waste that extra energy.

    Strontium 90 releases 546000 eV when it decays. An entire mole decaying, then, will release 6.023 x10^23 times that, or 3.28858 x 10^29 eV. That's 5.268 x10^10 joules. As the half-life of Strontium-90 is 28.79 years, that's 5.268 x10^10 / 908543304 (60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day, 365.25 days per year, 28.79 years) or 58w or output.
    That doesn't even take into account the yttrium it decays into, which produces 2.28 MeV with a half life of 64 hours.

    I would only need just over 2 mols of Strontium 90 at that rate to make a 60w source if it was 100% efficient.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheUnknowable View Post
    What does the capacity of a material we aren't even using to store electricity have to do with whether or not this will work?
    Nothing. I didn't suggest that " the capacity of a material we aren't even using to store electricity" determines whether atomic batteries will work or not.
    I would only need just over 2 mols of Strontium 90 at that rate to make a 60w source if it was 100% efficient.
    Yep. But it isn't 100% efficient - and Strontium-90 has had a bad track record as a source for both nuclear reactors and nuclear batteries.

    There's a Russian design that gets you into the 20-30% range (the above-mentioned high pressure noble gas system) but again there are some drawbacks.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by billvon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TheUnknowable View Post
    What does the capacity of a material we aren't even using to store electricity have to do with whether or not this will work?
    Nothing. I didn't suggest that " the capacity of a material we aren't even using to store electricity" determines whether atomic batteries will work or not.
    I would only need just over 2 mols of Strontium 90 at that rate to make a 60w source if it was 100% efficient.
    Yep. But it isn't 100% efficient - and Strontium-90 has had a bad track record as a source for both nuclear reactors and nuclear batteries.

    There's a Russian design that gets you into the 20-30% range (the above-mentioned high pressure noble gas system) but again there are some drawbacks.
    What was all that about the electron flux of lithium hydride? Is that the gas you use in the gas nuclear battery?
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheUnknowable View Post
    What was all that about the electron flux of lithium hydride?
    It's a commonly referenced beta emitter.

    Is that the gas you use in the gas nuclear battery?
    No, in the Russian experimental design the gas is a noble gas (like argon) - the emitter itself is technetium or strontium.
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  16. #15  
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    ok, well, 30% efficient would still only require 6 or 7 mols.
    And unless someone's tried this, or something similar, we may as well try it.
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