Russian Scientists Developed Technology to Make Simpler Energy Using Radioactive Nickel-63

  • Nickel 63 decays by beta decay and forms stable Copper-63.
  • The beta radiation of this isotope is delayed by the shell of the device, and therefore does not pose a danger to human health.
  • The process involves a solution with a Nickel Isotope, which is poured into heat-resistant glass.

Russian scientists from the Siberian State Aerospace University developed a technology that simplifies the process of creating energy sources using radioactive Nickel-63. The new technology is based on the chemical reduction of metal ions from a solution. Such reactions have been known for a long time, but no one has tried to use them to create nuclear batteries based on the Nickel isotope.

Siberian State Aerospace University, previously known as Reshetnyov University or SibSAU, is a university in Krasnoyarsk, Russian Federation. Founded in 1960.

Siberian State Aerospace University .

Nickel-63 is produced by capture on enriched Nickel-62 in High-Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR.  It decays by beta decay and forms stable Copper-63. Nickel-63 has a Half Life of 101 years and emits Beta radiation (NIDS, 2014).

62Ni + 1n → 63Ni + β– → 63Cu + β– 

Radioisotope energy sources (RTGs) get their energy from the decay of radioactive isotopes. This “battery” can work for decades without any human involvement. One of the isotopes used in RTGs is Nickel-63. Its half-life is approximately one hundred years, which makes the power supply durable. In this case, the beta radiation of this isotope is delayed by the shell of the device, and therefore does not pose a danger to human health. The results are published in the Journal of Physics.

As a substrate, scientists suggested using ordinary aluminum foil instead of silicon. On such a material, Nickel is deposited from the solution more effectively than on silicon. In chemistry, a substrate is typically the chemical species being observed in a chemical reaction, which reacts with a reagent to generate a product. It can also refer to a surface on which other chemical reactions are performed, or play a supporting role in a variety of spectroscopic and microscopic techniques.

In addition, the foil is easy to process and if there is a need to alter low-quality samples, aluminum can simply be dissolved in alkali. In this case, the expensive isotope deposited on its surface will not be lost.

The process involves a solution with a Nickel Isotope, which is poured into heat-resistant glass. Then the small samples of foil are placed in a solution and boiled at a temperature of about one hundred degrees. As a result, a layer of reduced metal falls on the aluminum foil substrate. The main advantage of this approach is that it can be carried out under normal conditions, without the use of expensive equipment.

Finally, the researchers tested this method on non-radioactive Nickel isotopes. The fact is that radioactive and non-radioactive atoms of the same element have the same chemical properties. For this reason, stable isotopes can be used as a safe model of Nickel-63.

Overall, it could be a great cost cutting technology and would be beneficial to the mass market.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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