Scientists at the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) are working with academics at University of Bristol on technologies for diamond batteries made from small amounts of graphite from former nuclear reactors – presenting the opportunity to recycle both carbon-14 and tritium into micro-power diamond devices.
The small batteries could be used in computer chips, smoke alarms, pacemakers, or small satellites. Estimates suggest 50kg of carbon-14 would be sufficient for millions of units.
Professor Tom Scott from the University of Bristol initially helped to develop the technology utilizing the electrical properties of diamond to produce diamond batteries. The devices operate in a similar way to the photovoltaics used in solar panels but harness fast electrons from within the diamond structure rather than using particles of light.
Professor Scott added: “Bristol is working with Culham to form a spin-out company and set up a pilot run of making these devices. We would look at producing 10,000 or 20,000 devices a year, but ultimately want to be producing millions of devices annually. It’s an extremely exciting project – we are aiming to be world leaders in diamond batteries.”