City Labs announced the commercial launch of its NanoTritium betavoltaic power source, a thumb-sized battery that draws on the energy released from its radioactive element to provide continuous nanoWatt power for over 20 years. This can specially be advantageous when installing micro-electronic devices in locations that are difficult or expensive to swap out a battery cell time and again.
Examples of possible applications for the technology include environmental pressure/temperature sensors, intelligence sensors, medical implants, trickle charging lithium batteries, deep space probes, silicon clocks, SRAM memory backup, deep-sea oil well electronics, and lower power processors.
There’s quite a bit more than 25 pounds (11 kg) of tritium (a radioactive isotope of hydrogen) in the world today. Although occurring naturally in the upper atmosphere, it’s also produced commercially in nuclear reactors and used in such self-luminescent products as aircraft dials, gauges, luminous paints, wristwatches, etc. It is also considered a relatively benign betavoltaic, providing a continuous flow of low-powered electrons for a good many years.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, tritium has a half-life of 12.3 years and the Model P100a NanoTritium betavoltaic power source from Toronto’s City Labs is claimed to be capable of providing power to low-power micro-electronic and sensor applications for over 20 years. It is described as robust and hermetically sealed, and the tritium is incorporated in solid form.
Independent testing undertaken by Lockheed Martin during an industry-wide survey also found the technology to be resistant to broad temperature extremes (-50° C to 150° C/-58° F to 302° F), as well as extreme vibration and altitude.
The company reports that it has just been granted a Product Regulatory General License to manufacture, sell, and distribute its NanoTritium battery, making its P100a the first betavoltaic power source to be made available to customers who don’t have a radiation license, haven’t obtained regulatory approval or undergone special training.
City Labs says that higher power batteries are currently under development, which could provide tens of microwatts over the long haul as well as short bursts of milliwatt power.