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Bye, Chernobyl! Nuclear Waste Powered Diamond Batteries That Could Last A Lifetime

Nov 30, 2016 05:26 AM EST
Nuclear waste can now be turned into clean energy source through a new method that allows radioactive graphite blocks generate electricity via artificial diamonds.
(Photo : Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

Nuclear waste can now be turned into clean energy source, scientists suggest.

As per the experiment of researchers at the University of Bristol, a new method allows radioactive graphite blocks generate electricity via artificial diamonds.

The method was introduced at the Cabot Institute's sold-out annual lecture on November 25. Science Alert notes that these man-made diamonds could potentially provide a power source for thousands of years, because of the longstanding half-life of the radioactive substances.

How does it work? Simply put, when the artificial diamond is put near a radioactive source, current is generated.

"There are no moving parts involved, no emissions generated and no maintenance required, just direct electricity generation. 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," Tom Scott, Professor in Materials in the University's Interface Analysis Centre and a member of the Cabot Institute, said in a press release.

In addition, the researchers also found that the current is generated while blocking the majority of the radioactive material, making the method safe.

Engadget reports that, the researchers used a nickel isotope for the tests. However, the researchers are also working on doing it with Carbon-14, which is generated in graphite blocks in nuclear power plants.

Dr. Neil Fox from the School of Chemistry explained: "Carbon-14 was chosen as a source material because it emits a short-range radiation, which is 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. In fact, diamond is the hardest substance known to man, there is literally nothing we could use that could offer more protection."

While the study has not been published yet, it is seen as a revolutionary finding which provides us alternative solutions on how we can dispose of nuclear waste, which is one of the greatest technical challenges of that we are facing today.

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