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New Material Can Convert Radiation Directly To Electricity

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posted on Mar, 29 2008 @ 07:24 PM
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New Materials Can Convert Radiation Directly Into Electricity


Materials that directly convert radiation into electricity could produce a new era of spacecraft and even Earth-based vehicles powered by high-powered nuclear batteries, say US researchers. Electricity is usually made using nuclear power by heating steam to rotate turbines that generate electricity. But beginning in the 1960s, the US and Soviet Union used thermoelectric materials that convert heat into electricity to power spacecraft using nuclear fission or decaying radioactive material. The Pioneer missions were among those using the latter, "nuclear battery" approach. Dispensing with the steam and turbines makes those systems smaller and less complicated. But thermoelectric materials have very low efficiency. Now US researchers say they have developed highly efficient materials that can convert the radiation, not heat, from nuclear materials and reactions into electricity.


This could be a HUGE breakthrough. The need for fusion designs could be limited, and the spent fuel now has a use. Spectacular, indeed.

Further, consider the implications in space travel. You cannot use solar energy as well around Mars, as you only get about half the light. Being able to capitalize on the ambient radiation would be a HUGE help to our search for living on another planet.




posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 09:15 PM
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BFFT This is the kind of stuff people should be focusing on. Amazing what this can lead to especially, as you mentioned, space travel. But one has to wonder, why the hell are we still using coal powerplants in north america? Keep up the good work



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 09:18 PM
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This is only part of it. I consider using the multifaceted approach. Cross posted from another thread:


Originally posted by bigfatfurrytexan
I think that the "big oil" companies already have the ability to generate energy in any manner they wish. The problem for them is entry. Further, at the level of tax revenue and payroll that these companies provide for, they have different rules to follow than your average mom and pop grocery. A major change such as that is not allowed for due to economic and security reasons. It is reinforced by the intermarriage of corporate America and Uncle Sam.

A good example of how "free energy" doesn't work for the people are windmills. Our city has bought and paid for some, and i know several people who are literally getting filthy rich out of leasing land space to windmill companies. There are tens of thousands of them around my town. All the way up to Lubbock, out to Pecos (and maybe further towards El Paso..haven't been that way in awhile), over to Abilene (Roscoe has had several poor people who are overnight wealthy) and south to San Angelo. This is just the 500 mile or so radius that i frequent. I am positive it goes further than that.

Out of all these tens of thousands of windmills making "free energy" (minus the pretty small start up and maintenance costs), you know what the impact is? Nothing. I pay the same amount for electricity (around 250-300 a month, as i am on "average billing" to prevent the 600 dollar shockers in the summer). My beautiful west Texas landscape now looks apocolyptic, and farm land is being used, alarmingly.

Now we see solar cells that are cheap and easy to manufacture using nanotech, as well as thermoelectric nanotech.

www.abovetopsecret.com...

www.abovetopsecret.com...

And the massive improvements in nano generators.

www.abovetopsecret.com...

Not to mention the emerging field of photonics. There are so many options available that you start to wonder when the "average joe" will be able to account for making their OWN free energy while having the "schematics" being common knowledge.

More threads:

Nanotech used to create improved Li-ion batteries

Making gasoline from carbon dioxide





It ties together much of my current energy research that uses nanotech. The more 'exotic' stuff is still being explored and i likely won't post it for awhile. It is the stuff that can power the whole world from one generator, you know?

The stuff above is real, do-able, and in the current scientific realm.



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 09:23 PM
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Now that you mention it, however, there are many, many threads on this site discussing the price of oil, oil company profits, economic collapse, global warming....thousands upon thousands of words dedicated to the discussion.

I have half a dozen threads with a more than half a dozen proven ways to generate electricity using completely clean energy. The only real cost is manufacturing of materials and maintenance. But i get VERY few responses.

It is very strange, indeed. So i just use ATS as a place to store some of my research (the stuff that may not apply so much to the Pegasus stuff).



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 09:58 PM
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I love all the stuff on nano tech. I spend a fair amount of time looking at what companies are actually doing now. It's crazy and mind boggling what is possible today that 99.99% of the population knows nothing about that it is possible to turn basically any form of energy into usable electricity these days.

I recently looked up the chevy volt, and while it's far from cutting edge it's still massively better than the hybrids we have on the road today. And yet they have a hard time putting it out there for no apparent reason. I do hope though that they're are just waiting for something like the nano-wire battery to be perfected. It's good to hear that toyota is serious about investing in that technology. We can just hope we don't have to hold our breath for too long....lol

Yeah the whole windmill thing is starting up here too, in Manitoba, Canada. But here it's the opposite as you guys down there. Our electricity is pretty affordable cuz we have had hydroelectric power for a long time now that actual makes too much electricity and we sell most of it to the states. So no matter how many windmills we put up, the price of electricity probably won't change but they make a killing selling it to the US. I guess cheaper electric bills won't come any time soon.

It seems like the big thing in terms of nano technology that's happening now though is solar power. Every new solar cell company that utilizes the new technology seems to be absolutely booming right now. They make them so cheaply and so fast now they use printing presses to just spew out solar panels.

BTW I have a lot of family that lives in Texas in the Seminole, Paris area. Been a long time since I've been to El Paso though, have they cleaned that place up yet? lol

[edit on 3-4-2008 by Cool Hand Luke]


XL5

posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 09:59 PM
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Well Tex, you don't get many replies because most people here are here for the: URGENT!!!, sex, 911, cop abuse, kill, amazing!!!, proof!!! . They don't seem to post about sci/phys topics unless it includes destruction, death, explosions, time travel, worm holes or sexy creepy robot women.

Next time, try to use one of those key words and see what happens. I know when I talk about the tech side of an issue and use facts, the thread dies or people ignore as if to say "screw the facts, I want to argue some more".

Now, if you knew someone personally and they had a true free energy device and wanted to show everybody he/she could in private (proof), I'd be there. I'd make free demo devices for people if it were simple enough, but I would give them to people who would understand how to make more and are not greedy.

As for converting radiation into electricity. If they can make a chip or a sheet that is compact enough for the amount of energy a car needs (about 75HP AVG.), then we don't really need anything else. All that would be needed at that point is a thick lead box, lead terminals and a big lead bolt to hold the radioactive rod. Hopefully this does get developed and they use thorium as the source.



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 10:03 PM
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BTW your postings are not in vain it seems you get quite a few views. I just think people don't know what questions to ask, including me. It takes a while for a person to think about the implications of such advancements and what you post is literally just the tip of the iceberg. Plus it seems alot people would rather talk about shapeshifting politicians than technology that is here now that can actually make our lives alot easier.



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 10:10 PM
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Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG's) are definitely a promising source of electrical power for space missions, but the inherent public fear of radiation will probably keep them from being widely implemented planet side...even if more efficient conversion processes can be developed. I could easily envision small scale thermoelectric generators being used that take advantage of waste heat produced in almost all mechanical systems used in our modern society, as doing so would greatly increase the efficiency of almost any system. It definitely makes sense to me, the technology is already on the table and the idea of recapturing waste energy has already been demonstrated in automobile breaking systems that capture rotational energy and convert it to electrical energy.

It would be really interesting if they could get the thermoelectric process conversion efficiency high enough to compete with the carnot engine steam cycle process currently used in almost all forms of distribution level power generation (nuclear, coal and the like). If they could do that, large scale RTG plants could actually spring up and might even be much easier and cheaper to operate than conventional pressurized water reactors or boiling water reactors.

I know we definitely need to develop some more modern, cleaner energy systems that are actually grounded in reality, and I think thermoelectric generators could easily have a place in such a plan.

This may be kind of tangential, but it's interesting that the basic technology that allows for the conversion of ambient heat energy to electrical energy also works the opposite way as well. Instead of applying heat (just a difference in temperature) to the junction of two dissimilar metals (or semiconductor wafer in the commercial application) to create a voltage between two terminals connected to said junction, one can also apply a voltage to the two terminals to create a difference in temperature at the junction that will result in heat transfer. This is known as the Peltier effect as is used commercially in some newer computer heat sink/fan applications and even replaces the standard compression based refrigeration cycle used in kitchen refrigerators.



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 10:19 PM
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I think the main reason threads like this fade away is because there are alot of devices that should be making peoples lives better, and they never get released. Not to mention it irritates people that are having a hard time and don't need too. The nanotech stuff is great, but I would like to start seeing some practical, everyday applications of its use, not just a 0 1 switch, or a tiny "car" made of gold that can go back and forward. It seems as if we've been at the infancy stage of Nano for a while now, there should be some breakthroughs happening by now.



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 11:43 AM
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reply to post by Shadow
 

Did you read the article? They aren't talking about RTG's, they're talking about something that uses the radiation put off by the plutonium or other radioactive metal, instead of the heat generated by the breakdown. I doubt this would be used in anything large, however, the idea of all those gamma rays and alpha and beta particles and neutrons kinda gives me the willies.



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 07:00 PM
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Ah, I see my mistake. I read the excerpt and misinterpreted its meaning, I thought it was referring to enhancing the efficiency of existing thermoelectric technologies. This is in fact far more interesting...

Such a reactor would have to use a cooling method completely foreign to me, one that uses a coolant that doesn't remove excessive kinetic energy from radioactive particles. I'd love to see them overcome such obstacles though, as doing so would allow for a completely new electrical power generation process.

Awesome.



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 07:06 PM
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reply to post by Shadow
 


That's the thing...you don't use a reactor. You just use the spent fuel cells that are being buried ou there in eastern New Mexico and here in West Texas. If you are gonna bury them might as well rig them up with this material that can make eash container an electrical generator. It would be an excellent way to "phase out" nuclear energy.

Further, you could include other radiation sources such as used CRT's or scrap pipeline from the oilfield. The point in this is that you do not let our waste products to continue being waste products.

I have another thread on thermoelectrics, if you look in the post above where i quoted myself. Nanotech is making spectacular advances in that area.



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 08:43 PM
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It might not be a conventional reactor, but that much decay heat concentrated in a large area is going to need some kind of cooling method to keep it under control. It could prove to be an excellent way to recycle, but there still has to be some kind of control and containment set up around it, it can't just sit there in a pile unmitigated...or at least that's what makes sense to me.



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 09:52 PM
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Originally posted by Shadow
It might not be a conventional reactor, but that much decay heat concentrated in a large area is going to need some kind of cooling method to keep it under control. It could prove to be an excellent way to recycle, but there still has to be some kind of control and containment set up around it, it can't just sit there in a pile unmitigated...or at least that's what makes sense to me.


Oh, most certainly understood. But if they are already burying them in waste containment systems, why could these waste containment systems not be turned into "batteries" (basically) by making the systems themselves out of this material that can then create electric current?



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 10:06 PM
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Well it would be a nightmare from a maintenance perspective. Anything relied on for power, be it mechanical or solid state usually requires some form of preventative maintenance to prevent system breakdowns. The "bury and forget" mentality might not work so well for that reason. Now I could see the creation of facilities that double as waste storage and power generation stations, but there would still likely be a large amount of infrastructure surrounding them...just like more conventional power stations.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, it's just that since I work as a nuclear power plant electrical operator...it might be kind of hard for me to think outside of the box.



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 10:12 PM
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Originally posted by XL5
As for converting radiation into electricity. If they can make a chip or a sheet that is compact enough for the amount of energy a car needs (about 75HP AVG.), then we don't really need anything else. All that would be needed at that point is a thick lead box, lead terminals and a big lead bolt to hold the radioactive rod. Hopefully this does get developed and they use thorium as the source.


in your consideration are some major flaws:
first of all: spontaneous decay of radioactive material has a very high energy density but a very low power density
second: proper to use isotopes (short half life time) have to be created by artificial means and are increadable expensive

(to sum those points up in an example.. the us government bought all the pu 238 needed für new horizons from russia for some million dollars... unsatisfied with this necessity they developed a program to build a new reactor to create pu 238, this reactor will coast approx 200 mio $ and produce 5 kg pu 238 per year.. source)

now to your carpowering idea: the 75 hp you proposed are equal to 55162 watt, 1 kg pu 238 can only provide 450 watt (and this as radiation energy so you will have losses) but even if you could get all power from the pu into the cars motor you would need 120 kg fuel (today about 40 mio $ worth material)

of course you stated an other material:
thorium (since we are talking on radioaktive isotopes this information is quite useless, but i will nevertheless give it a try)

first guess: you mean the most abundand thorium isotope 232 (100% of all thorium in nature)
this has a power density of some microwatt (in my guess 1.9) per kilo (meaning you would need 28807632120 kg thorium 232 to power 1 car with 75 hp (for imagination this is a massive cube of thorium with edge length of 134 meters))

calculation:
(6.022*10^26)/232 = 2.596*10^24 th 232 atoms in 1 kg
(2.596*10^24)/2 = 1.298*10^24 th 232 atoms decayed in 1kg after its half life
(1.298*10^24*10^24)*(4.083*10^6)eV *1.602*10^-19 J/eV = 8.49*10^11 J of energy came out of 1 kg after the half life time of the th232
8.49*10^11 J / (1.405*10^10 * 365.25 * 24 * 60 * 60) = 1.91 µW as the average power of a 1 kg th 232 source

i did not consider further products in the thorium decay chain since it needs 102 mio years until 0.5% of the original thorium decayed to ra228

second guess:
you mean a classical reactor concept producing neutron radiation which can be absorbed by th 232 to get even more unstable th 233 decaying via protactinium to uranium 233 --> thorium 229 and so on
problems: hughe efforts to seal and cool such a reactor.. very dangerous and complicated fuel replacement activities, big effort to clean and maintain such a highly involved system


so until you come accross some totally different material: no chance



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 10:15 PM
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reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan
 


Once again thanks for posting the cutting-edge stuff.



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 10:22 PM
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Originally posted by Shadow
Well it would be a nightmare from a maintenance perspective. Anything relied on for power, be it mechanical or solid state usually requires some form of preventative maintenance to prevent system breakdowns. The "bury and forget" mentality might not work so well for that reason. Now I could see the creation of facilities that double as waste storage and power generation stations, but there would still likely be a large amount of infrastructure surrounding them...just like more conventional power stations.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, it's just that since I work as a nuclear power plant electrical operator...it might be kind of hard for me to think outside of the box.


Then that makes your input all that much more valuable, to be honest. If i am truly to conceptualize adequately (as well as deny ignorance) then being informed of your perspective is most valuable. So no worries.

I think the "double as waste storage" is more like what i had in mind. Not "open pit" burying of material. More like bunkers. I would suppose that the shielding needs would be greatly reduced, as you are converting the high amounts of radiation that are being emitted. As mentioned above, the energy density is high, so you still would need to include shielding of some sort...but i doubt you would need a reactor cooler or something.

Perhaps i am wrong, however.



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