Make a Tritium Nuclear Battery or Radioisotope Photovoltaic Generator

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About: NurdRage is a dedicate group of science nerds trying to further amateur science with direct how-to instructions in video format. We saw what was already online and we thought "we could do better".....

In this video we make a Tritium Nuclear Battery. This is also known as a Radioisotope Photovoltaic Generator.

This is not like the more common Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators used on spacecraft as this does not use thermoelectric elements for the energy conversion portion.

The key component is luminous tritium vials. You can find them on online shopping networks as "Tritium Vials" or "Tritium lights".

These lights are simply attached to an amorphous solar cell to produce electricity. More efficient monocrystalline solar cells cannot be used as they are ironically less efficient at the low light levels the vials produces.

The device in the video using 14 tritium vials of 22.5mm x 3mm in size produced 1.23 microwatts at the maximum powerpoint of 1.6 volts.

Check out the video for further details.

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    5 Discussions

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    gridflash

    2 years ago

    Ok so how much more energy output do we get with a second solar cell on top... a tritium sandwich? Does it double?

    1 reply
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    NurdRagegridflash

    Reply 2 years ago

    What do you mean? How would your proposal be different from the video?

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    The Green Gentleman

    2 years ago

    Okay, that just rocked. Do you know whether there is any second harmonic generation from the phosphor? I imagine the frequency of light emitted is in the 500-550nm range, but might there also be 250-275nm emitted. I would imagine that the pv cell is pretty bad converting that to electricity. I'm not a physicist (obviously), but I've wondered about the amount that occurs in phosphors.

    2 replies
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    NurdRageThe Green Gentleman

    Reply 2 years ago

    I'm not sure if this particular phosphor has second harmonic generation, but i think in this case it's a total non-issue due to the extremely low intensity of the light. Second harmonic generation occurs best with high intensity light and is usually only significant if you can pump laser light into your substrate. At normal intensities you find in everyday light it's totally insignificant and at the extreme low end in these tritium lights i doubt its even measurable above the noise of your sensors.

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    The Green GentlemanNurdRage

    Reply 2 years ago

    Ahh, that makes sense, curse you. I was hoping one could squeak a bit more energy out of those babies with an additional phosphor.