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What is Carbon-14 (C14) Battery?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : C-14, Carbon Dating

Mains level : Scientific management of nuclear waste and its disposal

A California-based company has made a self-charging battery, which can run for 28,000 years on a single charge, by trapping carbon-14 (C14) nuclear waste in artificial diamond-case.

Try this PYQ:

Q.The known forces of nature can be divided into four classes, viz. gravity, electromagnetism, weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force. With reference to them, which one of the following statements is not correct?

(a) Gravity is the strongest of the four

(b) Electromagnetism act only on particles with an electric charge

(c) Weak nuclear force causes radioactivity

(d) Strong nuclear force holds protons and neutrons inside the nuclear of an atom.

What is C14?

  • Carbon-14 (14C), or radiocarbon, is a radioactive isotope of carbon with an atomic nucleus containing 6 protons and 8 neutrons.
  • There are three naturally occurring isotopes of carbon on Earth: carbon-12, which makes up 99% of all carbon on Earth; carbon-13, which makes up 1%; and carbon-14, which occurs in trace amounts.
  • Its presence in organic materials is the basis of the radiocarbon dating method pioneered by Willard Libby and colleagues (1949) to date archaeological, geological and hydrogeological samples.

C14 battery

  • The battery works by generating electricity on its own from a shower of electrons as a result of radioactive decay scattered and deposited in the artificial diamond-case.
  • The battery can be used in electric vehicles, mobile phones, laptops, tablets, drones, watches, cameras, health monitors and even sensors.
  • It is also said to be extremely safe and tamper-proof as it is coated with a non-radioactive diamond which prevents radiation leaks.

Best example of nuke waste recycling

  • It is estimated that 33 million cubic metres of global nuclear waste will cost over $100 billion to manage and dispose of.
  • And a lot of this waste is graphite that is one of the higher risks of radioactive waste and one of the most expensive and problematic waste to store.

Its applications

  • The company says its battery can be used to powerhouses, and that any excess electricity generated can be sold to the grid.
  • As the new battery need not be replaced, it can be installed in hard to reach places like pacemakers and implants, where a regular change of battery is not possible.
  • Another area of use is space electronics. The battery is said to power space equipment in rockets.
  • It can power the electrical needs of space crafts, like providing power to cockpits and assisting launch into the upper atmosphere.
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