China’s Betavolt develops 50-year nuclear battery

16 January 2024

Beijing-based Betavolt New Energy Technology has developed a 3V nuclear battery that uses radioactive nickel-63 as the energy source and a diamond semiconductor as the energy converter. Betavolt says atomic are a direct current power source, and can produce pulse power with a higher life by adding supercapacitors as energy storage devices.

The basic structure of this nuclear battery includes a converter, base plate, nickel-63 source and battery protective layer. The battery is a stacked layer of the diamond semiconductor converter and 2 micron-thick nickel-63 thin slices. The battery is modular. A module is composed of at least two converters and one layer nickel-63. The minimum size of the atomic battery is 3 x 3 x 0.03 millimetres which comprises two converters and one layer of nickel-63.

Atomic batteries, also known as nuclear batteries or radioisotope batteries, work on the energy released by the decay of nuclear isotopes absorbed into electrical energy through semiconductor converters.

Betavolt Chairman & CEO Zhang Wei said that the first product the company will launch will be BV100 – the world’s first mass-produced nuclear battery, which will be 15x15x5 millimetres – smaller than a coin.

Betavolt says its battery is absolutely safe, producing no external radiation. It is suitable for medical equipment such as cardiac pacemakers, artificial hearts and cochlears. A patent has been registered in Beijing and patents will be applied for globally. Zhang Wei said that the core of the battery is the fourth-generation diamond semiconductor, which is the ultimate semiconductor material. Multiple module groups can be connected in series and parallel, and the power from the nuclear battery can be configured from a few microwatts to several watts.

Betavolt was established in April 2021 integrating R&D, production, service, sales, and import and export trade. Its main products include atomic energy batteries and fourth-generation diamond semiconductors. and materials, ultra-long carbon nanotubes and supercapacitors. The company’s first-generation products are based on diamond semiconductor converters and Schottky diodes as well as the nuclear batteries, and the company is aiming at space applications, defence and medical designs.

Image: The BV100 battery (courtesy of Betavolt)

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