Friday, May 13, 2005

Startup set to unveil tritium-powered batteries

Neat-O!  Now, can we put these in cars so that I can drive around for 20 years before needing to put more juice in?

Konfabulator battery widget

A startup funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation is set to unveil a technology that could use atomic energy to power the batteries used in small electronic devices. The “BetaBatt,” as described in the May 13 issue of Advanced Materials, will use the hydrogen isotope tritium to create batteries that can last up to 20 years and be used in everything from spacecraft to mesh networks. Unlike previous attempts at atomic batteries, the BetaBatt is said to be small and efficient enough to be used as a practical power source for regular use. According to the developer, BetaBatt Inc., tritium was chosen because of its minimal shielding requirements, and no radiation can leak from the battery’s hermetically sealed case (isn’t that what they said about Chernobyl?). No indication yet of whether this will ever be approved for use in consumer devices, so if you’re a thrill-seeker willing to risk it all, you may have to content yourself for now with third-party cellphone batteries.

[Thanks, Roland]