Atomic batteries can store thousands of times more energy per unit mass than chemical batteries – leading to very long lives in special applications
One of our listeners – Bruno Garcia – asked us to talk about nuclear (atomic) batteries. These devices make use of the energy that radioactive isotopes emit on a continuous basis to provide heat and electricity for devices that need to operate for a long period of time.
With the right isotope, nuclear batteries can contain thousands of times more energy per unit mass than chemical batteries. They have been used by NASA for space research, by the Coast Guard for remote navigation devices and by medical equipment suppliers to power pacemakers.
Shane and I were happy to oblige and enjoyed our conversation. We hope you do too. Here are some additional links to other sources of information about this fascinating and valuable use of nuclear materials.
- Batteries That Last For Decades – an article from the first issue of Atomic Insights and one of the most popular articles from that magazine over time.
- Nuclear Microbatteries – this presentation from a 2002 ANS meeting has some useful data.