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Energy storage and management

Energy storage and management

Nuclear diamonds: the ultimate long-life battery?

09 Feb 2017

Physics World recently reported the radical – yet perhaps not as far-fetched as it sounds – idea of storing nuclear waste inside tiny diamonds to create batteries that could provide small amounts of electricity for thousands of years.

The proposal comes from a group of researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK, who say they have a practical way of dealing with some of the nearly 95,000 tonnes of radioactive graphite that was used as a moderator in the UK’s nuclear reactors. Applications of such devices could include long-lasting power supplies for pacemakers and even a lightweight power supply for space missions.

Unsurprisingly, this eye-catching research captured the attention of specialist and mainstream media publications alike when it was announced towards the end of 2016. In this podcast, we probe deeper into the science behind the headlines.

The episode is presented and produced by Andrew Glester, a science communicator based in Bristol, who says he takes a “sceptical optimism” to such bold scientific claims. Glester visits the research team at the University of Bristol to find out more about the proposal – its applications, nuclear safety concerns, and the challenges that stand in the way of this idea becoming a practical reality.

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