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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Nuclear waste is normally buried beneath ground and left forever, this new breakthrough gives nuclear processing companies a new option and a new revenue stream.

 

Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed a method to turn radioactive graphite blocks, a waste product of nuclear reactors, into artificial diamonds that generate electricity. The diamonds produce a small current that could last for thousands of years and such long-lived diamond batteries could be used to power spacecraft, implants such as pacemakers, and in other areas where long battery life is crucial.

 

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Nuclear reactors generate heat from highly radioactive uranium rods which are placed in blocks of graphite to control the heat flow and nuclear reactions and after years of absorbing nuclear radiation, the graphite blocks become highly radioactive as well. So, when nuclear power plants are decommissioned, they have to dispose of the graphite blocks as well.

 

 

The researchers realized they could heat the carbon blocks, which causes the radioactive carbon to turn into a gas, this gas is then collected and compressed to form a diamond and it turned out that is had some cool properties. Because of its radioactive nature, it can generate a small electric current and no moving parts means no maintenance and, even better they can last for thousands of years without needing to be replaced.

While the current is too small to power your smartphone it could be used for small applications where it is difficult or impossible to replace a battery and with so many nuclear reactors out in the world there’d be a guaranteed supply for generations to come.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, award winning Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute is described as "The Adviser behind the Advisers." Recognised for the past five years as one of the world's foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an author, entrepreneur international speaker who helps investors, multi-nationals, regulators and sovereign governments around the world envision, build and lead the future. Today, asides from being a member of Centrica's prestigious Technology and Innovation Committee and mentoring XPrize teams, Matthew's accomplishments, among others, include playing the lead role in helping the world's largest smartphone manufacturers ideate the next five generations of mobile devices, and what comes beyond, and helping the world's largest high tech semiconductor manufacturers envision the next twenty years of intelligent machines. Matthew's clients include Accenture, Bain & Co, Bank of America, Blackrock, Bloomberg, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Du Pont, E&Y, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, HPE, Huawei, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group, McKinsey & Co, Monsanto, PWC, Qualcomm, Rolls Royce, SAP, Samsung, Schroeder's, Sequoia Capital, Sopra Steria, UBS, the UK's HM Treasury, the USAF and many others.

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