PinheroLAB Betavoltaics Offer Power Options
Objective: Our Betavoltaics Team is focussed on developing long-lived stable power sources for a variety of applications. Since negatrons, i.e., β– particles, are high-enegy (or velocity) electrons resulting from nuclear decay, it is necessary that unstable (radioactive) material be present. Betavoltaics are thus best suited for environments and applications that do not require much handling. Low-power betavoltaics are ideal for remote data-logging equipment, airplane flight recorders, beacons, and autonomous devices. Our team is actively developing micro-sized betavoltaics for micro-electromechanical machines (MEMs) and nano-eectromechanical machines (NEMs). In addition, the team is engineering lightweight, conformal, ultrahigh capacity betavoltaic that may assist infantrymen by replacing the 25 pounds of batteries they carry, or help bring power to areas ravaged by natural disasters.
Accomplishments: The team has developed a lightweight, pure betaemitter using a combination of some old chemistry/materials science and capabilities at the Missouri University Research Reactor (MURR). Much of our research is based on the use of tritium (3H) since it is a pure betaemitter, possesses relatively low environmental impact, and has a half-life of over 12 years. The other facet to our technology is that our 3H resides in a highly-oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) crystal where it has been shown to remain thermally stable up to 630 °C. This translates to very little potential risk. The Beatvoltaic Team researches parallel tracks to find the best way to engineer industrial prototypes, including:
- Lithium intercalation Studies
- Monte Carlo N-Particle Calculations of 6Li + 1n –> 3H + 4He
- Neutron Irradiation of Li-intercalated HOPG and Beta Decay Measurements
- Betavoltaic Packaging using Indirect Photoconversion