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Cobalt 60 Gamma Ray Battery

Harness the Gamma Rays from Cobalt 60 into Electricity
  [vote for,

Assuming that a plentiful supply of Cobalt 60 can be secured (see idea on Iron Cobalt Fusion Reactor) perhaps it may be possible to construct a 'battery' that lasts 5 years or longer.

The basic idea is that maybe a box about the same size as a microwave, lined with lead and filled with a few alternating layers of cobalt 60 and specialized photo- voltaic cells can be used to generate enough electrical energy for a single household for more than 5 years.

Cobalt 60 turns into Nickel 60. Nickel is not particularly hazardous in its metallic form and is a useful and valuable commodity. The by-product of the Cobalt 60 Gamma Ray Battery is a source of Nickel.

If Cobalt 60 is 'hot' enough with gamma ray radiation, photo-voltaic cells can hopefully have a high enough energy output to make it viable.

The issue is supplying enough Cobalt 60 to fuel enough machines. With the Iron Cobalt Fusion Reactor hopefully this can be achieved.

AngelEleven, Nov 21 2015

Gamma to Light http://spie.org/x11...8&ArticleID=x115974
Combine this newly discovered substance with solar cells.... [Vernon, Nov 22 2015]

gamma ray https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_ray
wiki link [travbm, Nov 26 2015]

semiconductors for gamma detectors http://www.scientis...e.com/content/25316
science article on high frequency detectors. [travbm, Nov 26 2015]

A kind of radioactive battery https://en.wikipedi...oelectric_generator
As used in the Voyager probes [hippo, Nov 26 2015]

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       // specialized photo- voltaic cells //   

       Semiconductors don't last long under intense gamma flux.
8th of 7, Nov 21 2015

       Indeed, since the heat generated by the gamma ray incidence with semiconductors would be significant and destroy normal solar cells, the idea calls for some research into specialized gamma ray photo-voltaics. If one could create a fluid photo-voltaic cell, heat can be dissipated. There are some interesting possibilities as far as specialized gamma ray photo-voltaics are concerned, not limited to semi-conductors, but perhaps by using solutions of various pigments or something.
AngelEleven, Nov 21 2015

       I think the bigger question is whether you want lots of microwave-size chunks of cobalt 60 in general circulation.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 21 2015

       Yes, unfortunately Cobalt 60 has potential for dirty bomb manufacture. Gammawave Batteries could be used for good or evil. Hopefully tampering with the enclosure would expose the tamperers to a lethal dose of gamma radiation. Nothing that can't be overcome with machinery and protective gear.   

       Regrettably the potential exists for misuse, and in the current economic-political climate the creation of dirty bombs would probably happen.   

       On the plus side though, research into the practical applications and development of Gammawave Batteries may indicate that nuclear storage of energy, with an energy density of millions over chemical batteries may mitigate the risk of miscreants misusing this technology.   

       I think this technology can be researched, for the benefit of the future generations. Perhaps future generations would not use this technology to destroy (unlikely).
AngelEleven, Nov 21 2015

       Not dirty bomb, standard use. Anything in "general circulation" can be found in streams and on road sides in cities. It's nature's way but nature doesn't have a cycle for.
wjt, Nov 21 2015

       Maybe some future individual would be using gamma power cells to run their plasma rifle to shoot mutant trolls.
travbm, Nov 22 2015

       Plasma Rifles sound like fun. Maybe Jet packs and plasma rifles combined would beat the baddies.   

       Anyway another issue about Cobalt 60 in general circulation is that is it may enter the food chain - contained within the vitamin B12. Nevertheless I think that if these batteries are regulated and controlled in a similar manner to vehicles, with added fortification, including an ultra pungent stink gas that warns nearby people that a lead/bismuth/iron fortified containment vessel has been breached, a modicum of security can be achieved.   

       If, then a well organised and regulated 'alternative energy storage' system can be orchestrated, then the Cobalt 60 has little chance of making it into the general circulation.   

       As far as semi-conductors go, I think that there are probably many more options, including the one in ultra- bright scintillators for planetary gamma-ray spectroscopy. There could be many different incarnations of the basic concept - including possibilities for 'micro' sized devices - perhaps the size of a watch battery.
AngelEleven, Nov 22 2015

       //whether you want lots of microwave-size chunks of cobalt 60 in general circulation.//   

       What a silly question, of course we do!
Voice, Nov 23 2015

       You would have to use a thick lead telluride crystals to convert gamma rays into electricity maybe even doping it with Erbium or lanthanum or something like that but cerium may also work. As for the gamma solar cell I doubt it would be very efficient as gamma rays very penetrating.
travbm, Nov 25 2015

       The enclosure itself might be akin to a mirrored box. i am thinking polished lead, bismuth alloy with a literal silver lining - or tin or aluminum. Basically like a gamma ray globe in a mirrored box, with the only exit for muons via the direct current output from 'solar' panels...gamma ray absorbers made from lead telluride doped with some rare earths as u say. Heat dispersion is a problem because it will degrade 'panels'. That is why another option may be some use of 'liquid' gamma ray converters. Thinking of something like a synthetic dye specifically engineered for the purpose. Light not converted to electron flow would be reflected from the inner lining of the enclosure.   

       Also due to the changing crystal lattice of Cobalt 60 as it decays to Nickel 60, some engineering tolerances would need to be considered in the design. I am in favor of a steel wool type material of Cobalt 60, perhaps with some kind of fluid filling the gaps. Between each layer there might be the EMF plate for polarised ions of the dye to exchange the charges...as far as the changing volume of the decay product goes, in this box we have a gas (highly smelly) which will compress as the Cobalt changes to Nickel.
AngelEleven, Nov 25 2015

       maybe zinc oxide and silicon dioxide based on a moray detector could work for your gamma cell or for a dopant as in a matrix of some sort of radioactive wool or mesh for a battery?
travbm, Nov 26 2015

       I think some experimentation is in order for the best way to harness the gamma radiation into usable current. I am unfamiliar with the Moray Detector (is it something used for diving to detect Moray Eels?).   

       I think there are many options for the photo-voltaic conversion depending on the individual battery design. In this case, a microwave sized device for generating up to 50kwh per day, some options could be considered, including the aforementioned technologies.   

       Perhaps even new semiconductor technology could be devised - using silicon as a substrate, perhaps some existing space age technology is already available and in mass production.   

       With very little working knowledge on how solar panels actually work - bar the very fundamentals - one might consider unordinary dopants, perhaps normal transition elements such as copper could be used in place of rare earths.   

       From my research I discovered that lead/bismuth alloy has a very low melting point, so its not great for enclosure material. Perhaps a lead/bismuth/tungsten alloy would have a higher melting point (how would this be manufactured (vapor deposition?)) and be a bit more resilient of high temperatures. Lead/Bismuth/X alloys could be devised to meet the properties this device needs for the enclosure, specifically: commercial affordability for mass production, strength characteristics to resist curious public and effective shielding properties. Come to think of it, I think 10mm iron casing would do just fine, perhaps with a 1mm layer of lead and a 2 micrometer layer of reflective material in the inside of the the box.
AngelEleven, Nov 26 2015

       Moray made a sensitive power diode that could take high power radio transmissions and make about 600 watts of power in a cell. They would burn out if overloaded for some reason. I guess surface area was key to the diode working. But radio waves are em waves. Gamma rays are just high energy photons at a frequency higher than that of radio and most other waves. I think it could work as a receiver if tuned to gamma frequencies.   

       You need at least one cm or lead and some sort of gamma reflecting crystal surface to contain the gamma rays.
travbm, Nov 26 2015

       Does this idea differ from the batteries used in the Voyager probes (see link)?
hippo, Nov 26 2015

       The idea is not so far away, that's a fairly important difference I would say.
pocmloc, Nov 26 2015

       // I think it could work as a receiver if tuned to gamma frequencies. //   

       Gamma is ionizing. You can't engineer a tuned circuit for ionizing radiation; you can only couple the energy electrostatically.   

       // some sort of gamma reflecting crystal surface to contain the gamma rays. //   

       Unobtainium would be the ideal material for that.
8th of 7, Nov 26 2015

       // Moray made a sensitive power diode that could take high power radio transmissions and make about 600 watts of power in a cell. […] Gamma rays are just high energy photons at a frequency higher than that of radio and most other waves. I think it could work as a receiver if tuned to gamma frequencies. //   

       Antennas work for radio waves, but not for light (let alone gamma). Why do you think this diode would be different?
notexactly, Nov 30 2015

       I thought gamma rays basically just tear the crap out of everything... in which case just let it do that then harvest the IR.
FlyingToaster, Nov 30 2015


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