Nuclear batteries are an energy device that generate electricity via the decay of a radioactive isotope. These are also referred to as atomic battery and radioisotope battery. Nuclear batteries can be broadly classified into two broad categories, thermal units that convert heat into electricity and non-thermal units that convert radiation directly into electricity.
While nuclear batteries are in existence, they are not produced on a large scale. Nuclear batteries are usually customized units produced for a specific purpose. However, nuclear batteries are expected to become more commonly available in the near future. It will be made possible with newer breakthroughs in technology and availability of new-age materials. To understand its potential, here’s a look at some of the top uses of nuclear batteries.
Pacemakers – Pacemaker batteries already have a long lifespan of around 5 to 10 years. However, nuclear batteries will be a complete gamechanger, as they can virtually last forever. That means no more cuts to replace the pacemaker battery.
Medical implants – Medical implants are among the most advanced treatment and wellness techniques available to humankind. Like a pacemaker, some of these medical implants utilize electricity to operate. With a nuclear battery, doctors can ensure that the implant continues to benefit the patient throughout their lives.
Space exploration – Nuclear batteries are already playing a key role in helping humanity explore the vast stretches of outer space. Beyond areas or situations where the spacecraft may not be able to harness solar energy, systems can continue to function with nuclear batteries. These are expected to play a key role in helping humanity to not just explore but also to colonize space.
Power remote stations – In remote areas, nuclear batteries can be used to provide continuous power to scientific stations. There won’t be any need to become dependent on generators or solar power.
Underwater systems – There’s a lot of equipment on or under the seabed that’s needs to be monitored on a regular basis. For example, there are oil and gas pipelines, underwater pumping stations, communications cables, etc. With nuclear batteries, a number of monitoring equipment such as sensors and cameras can stay submerged for extended periods without the need to change batteries.
Military applications – With nuclear batteries, military equipment such as radars, communication systems, etc. can be operated in areas where electricity or generators may not be available. This will provide a tactical advantage over enemy forces.
No recharge electric cars – While electric cars are great, the hassle is they need to be charged quite frequently. Nuclear batteries will make things easier, as these batteries don’t need recharging. Researchers are working to create a prototype that can run exclusively on nuclear batteries.
No recharge electronics – Electronic items that use low voltage such as smartwatches, measuring instruments, etc. can be powered using nuclear batteries. These won’t require recharging, which will make things completely hassle-free.
Environment protection – Standard batteries have dangerous chemicals that pollute the environment. Nuclear batteries are made from nuclear waste, which in itself is environment friendly. Moreover, nuclear batteries do not have polluting chemicals and can last several decades.
IoT revolution – With nuclear batteries, more things can become part of an interconnected system. For example, nuclear batteries can be used to power devices like door locks, fire alarms, security systems, home automation, etc. Nuclear battery powered IoT devices will also play a crucial role in sectors like medical, manufacturing, agriculture, power generation, transportation and logistics, environmental monitoring, etc.