Superior Endurance to Push Adoption of Betavoltaic Cells Against Traditional Batteries
Operating like a nuclear analogue of the solar cell, betavoltaic cell is currently associated with a limited bracket of applications. One of the key areas of its application that are typically characterised by the low power demand in a long autonomous lifetime includes spacecraft. Mounting application in the aerospace industry, and medical and healthcare sectors will predominantly uphold adoption. Excellent miniaturisation capabilities of betavoltaic cells make them an ideal candidate for virtually any kind of application, and in extreme conditions. Wide application in cardiac pacemakers will remain an important factor contributing to the long-term growth of the betavoltaic cell market. Nuclear batteries or betavoltaic cells are also extensively considered for trickle-charging of the most commonly used consumer electronic devices like laptops, and mobile phones that have conventional batteries.
The market is expected to largely benefit from accelerating investments in space technology research, as well as the swelling market for medical implants. Recently, a project undertaken by the Department of Physics, Savitribai Phule Pune University (India) reached its completion in December, 2019. Initiated in 2015, the project involved nuclear battery development specifically for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The batteries delivered by this team are claimed to offer low-voltage power for as long as 35 years with zero maintenance, and charging requirements. With a broad range of potential applications, the global betavoltaic cell market is projected to see a promising growth outlook in the foreseeable future. Where traditional electrochemical batteries typically have a long-lasting life but need to be recharged or replaced eventually, the longevity of a nuclear battery depends on the half-life of its decay, which measured in decades, or even centuries. An exceptional longevity of these betavoltaic cells will continue to account for their adoption worldwide. Among the types of isotopes, Tritium, attributing to its low specific power, long half-life, and inherited safety profile, continues to win preference over Nickel, Krypton, and Strontium.
Implantable Medical Devices Register Remarkable Consumption of Betavoltaic Cells; Military & Defence Promise High Market Potential
Adoption by the healthcare industry has been noteworthy, giving a strong push to the growth of betavoltaic cell market. Betavoltaic batteries find lucrative applications in the world of medicine and healthcare, especially surgery. Besides cardiac implantables such as pacemakers, and defibrillators, several opportunities exist in the implantable medical devices segment. A number of medical device manufacturing companies have been showcasing inclination towards the development of lasting, scalable, small, and low-power devices that would majorly rely on betavoltaic cells. Intraocular and cochlear implants, cerebral neurostimulators, infusion pumps, and in-vivo drug delivery systems are some of the highly attractive areas witnessing notable developments. In-vivo electronic medical tags, and brain-to-computer interface devices also constitute the potential application areas for betavoltaic battery manufacturers. Moreover, opportunities abound in the defence and military application areas. Tamper-proofing of military systems is expected to be a significant potential application of betavoltaic cells. Considering the field of defence, these cells could efficiently power up the encryption keys in Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA).
Betavoltaic Batteries to Find Application in Mobile Devices
With mobile devices witnessing exploding adoption, it is unlikely that the sales will see any plunge over the foreseeable future. Their electrically-powered nature however presents certain challenges in front of manufacturers, as well as the other stakeholders in the electronics industry. The conventional electrochemical batteries, though are best suited for charging these devices, have limited longevity that makes it necessary to repeatedly recharge, and replace batteries, as well as devices. Moreover, their inability to operate efficiently at high temperatures, or in extreme conditions restrict their versatility. Here is when the betavoltaic sources of power outweigh the conventional, and offer exceptional longevity. Their lasting service life, high energy density, smaller size, lighter weight, strong anti-interference ability, and stable output performance of betavoltaic cells continue to make it a constant research hotspot for micro energy researchers, as well as end users. Easy integration capability of regular betavoltaic cells over their cylindrical counterparts further uplifts their application potential. Significant hurdles still remain to be overcome in terms of the efficiency, and stability of these cells. Expecting ubiquity, and widespread commercialisation of betavoltaic cells anytime soon is too early at this point in time. However, with the kind of efforts that are being invested in researching nuclear battery technology, the market for betavoltaic cells will most likely witness a promising growth trajectory in long term.
Betavoltaic Cells Set to Permeate Novel Application Areas as Nuclear Batteries Continue to Garner Research Interest
The greatest challenge facing the nuclear batteries industry is that they generate power at such as rate that begins to decay over time. Moreover, if the generated power is not utilised, it is lapsed. While this has been the Achilles’ heel for betavoltaic cells, increasing the power has so far been an uphill task for the manufacturers. With an objective to overcome this challenge, and explore the full application potential of these batteries, there has been substantial, and dynamic research activity afoot around enhancing the power conversion efficiency of betavoltaic batteries. These cells are increasingly being perceived as the batteries that would bring in a ground-breaking revolution to the small devices industry. Augmenting R&D efforts are further expected to empower this revolution in the foreseeable future.
California-based NDB introduced to the market a self-charging nuclear battery in August, 2020. The carbon-14 nuclear waste has been trapped in an artificial diamond case, which reportedly makes the battery run for an astonishing period of 28,000 years. NDB claims that the battery, on a single charge, can potentially power up anything from space solutions, and medical devices, to home appliances, smartphones, other mobile devices, cameras, drones, and even electric vehicles. In September, 2020, a company established by the researchers at the University of Bristol brought to the table a novel idea to develop nuclear diamond betavoltaic batteries. Arkenlight Limited is aiming commercialisation of the highly energy-efficient (diamond-based) betavoltaic battery technology that would account for a device’s longevity potentially as high as centuries. The concept of this diamond betavoltaic batteries involves conversion of a reasonably nuclear waste – Carbo-14 into a self-sustaining source of energy. Devices that would be powered by such batteries will potentially eliminate the need for charging.
A team of researchers from Russia delivered an optimised nuclear battery design in May, 2018. While this prototype nuclear battery pack is supposed to be generating power from Nickel-63 beta decay, it promises tenfold power generation in comparison with that by conventional electrochemical cells. The project participants from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), the Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials (TISNCM), and the National University of Science and Technology MISIS opine that the outcome will find prospects in medical applications. The making of perpetual pacemakers will most likely gain from it. Recently in September, 2020, a team of scientists at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST, Republic of Korea) has discovered a novel technique that can bolster the performance of betavoltaic cells to a promising level. The ruthenium-based dye sensitisation technique has been found responsible for the betavoltaic cell’s improved efficiency in terms of radiation-to-energy conversion. Several more such studies are likely to create an influx of opportunities in the field of nuclear batteries, thereby unlocking doors to several potential application areas for the participants in the betavoltaic cell market. The potential applications areas also include vehicles, outer space, underground area, and deserts.
Key Players in Global Betavoltaic Cell Market
Some of the major players participating in the global betavoltaic cell market competition include City Labs, Qynergy Corporation, Widetronix, Inc., NDB Inc., Arkenlight, and BetaBatt, Inc. Key companies continue to prioritise R&D research, enhanced manufacturing capabilities, and commercialisation. Major players are observed to be investing significantly in patenting of their betavoltaic battery technology innovations.