MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The nickel-63 isotope’s properties make it a very convenient basic element for tiny, safe and low-power batteries, also known as beta-voltaic cells, with a long service life of over 50 years.
As nickel-63 does not exist in nature, it is obtained by irradiating nickel-62 isotopes with neutrons inside nuclear reactors. The resulting substance is later subjected to radio-chemical processing and is divided using gas centrifuges.
A group of NUST MISiS scientists headed by Professor Yury Parkhomenko, head of its faculty of semiconductor and dielectric materials studies, have developed a technology for making systems that convert the nickel-63 isotope’s beta-radiation energy into electric power on the basis of piezo-electric mono-crystals for use by self-contained AC beta-voltaic cells.
"The use of impulse power sources that accumulate and release electric charges makes it possible to overcome restrictions caused by the low power of beta-voltaic nuclear batteries," noted Parkhomenko, whose statement is quoted in the report.
Earlier, it was reported that there are plans to obtain nickel-63 isotopes for this project inside an IRT-T research reactor at the Tomsk Polytechnic University. The Zheleznogorsk Electro-Chemical Plant in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, which is also affiliated with Rosatom, will manufacture industrial nickel-enrichment equipment.
Plans to assemble the first prototype "nuclear battery" under this project will begin in 2017.