What to do with the waste produced by nuclear power plants? At present, we do not know too much except to bury them underground. Researchers are proposing to make batteries with an almost eternal lifespan!
Carbon 14, a waste produced by nuclear power plants, has a fairly low radioactivity… But on the other hand, it has the defect of an extremely long lifespan: 5,700 years! Rather than burying them, researchers from the University of Bristol, in England, have begun to think about a solution that would make it possible to recycle this waste which will pile up in the coming years due to the dismantling program for the oldest power plants. British.
A very long battery life
The idea is as follows: carbon 14 could be transformed into artificial diamonds, which themselves would transform into very long-lasting batteries. It turns out that diamond can produce betavoltaic electricity! Scientists have managed to create such diamonds, which fit into a specially designed structure to avoid radiation dangerous to human health.
Diamonds also have the advantage of being particularly robust, they are not afraid of high temperatures and dangerous environments. And then the researchers kill two birds with one stone. Not only do we get rid of our little problems of nuclear waste, but we also gain a solution to generate energy without using fossils or hydrocarbons from Russia…
They recycle wastes from #nuclear power and safely convert them into useful products such as batteries.
— South West Nuclear Hub (@SWNuclearHub) January 10, 2022
But the picture is not so rosy seen closer. These diamond-batteries have a capacity of 15 joules per gram, against 700 J/g for an AA battery. It is, however, sufficient to power small objects. The other side of the coin, the autonomy of the battery embedded in the diamond reaches almost 6,000 years! And even once you reach the end of this cycle, its capacity is halved: it can therefore still be used for a while.