Beta-batt: A nuclear battery that lasts 20 years

There has been a lot of discussion recently in Treehugger about how new high tech batteries may obviate the need for "the hydrogen economy" as a medium of energy transfer- just go straight electric if the batteries are getting so good and so fast.

Here is yet another new battery that has interesting possibilities and a lot of possible problems: The beta-batt. Its developers combine radioactive tritium with a porous silicon diode- the silicon semiconductor generates electricity by absorbing the electrons generated by beta decay , just like a solar cell generating electricity from incoming photons.

The upside- a D battery that lasts 20 years. Tritium emits only low energy beta particles that cannot penetrate a piece of paper, let alone the battery casing. The downside- it's made in nuclear reactors and someday will have to be disposed of. Betabatt's website says its "Green and Safe- No harmful radiation, leaching, or contamination". Green? that's a bit of a stretch. Safe? Maybe we just have to think of it like we do about the polonium in our smoke detector- The usefulness of the device outweighs our trepidation. ::Betabatt via ::Eurekalert by [LA]

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