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    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeMar 29th 2008
     (1596.1)
    A new material converts radioactivity directly into electricity.

    This is as opposed to current nuclear batteries which use the heat from nuclear decay to generate electricity or nuclear reactors which use the heat from nuclear reactions to create steam to turn turbines to generate power.

    The new process is 20 times more effective than the old thermionic nuclear batteries (which only harvested 2-3% of energy emitted).

    This could have really radical implications. For starters, all that high-level nuclear waste currently causing people grief may just have become a valuable resource.

    I'm also wondering if this technology would work with beta-emitters. (Beta particles are much less energetic than alpha particles or gamma rays. They can be stopped by a sheet of paper. Beta-emitting substances are much. much safer than Uranium or Plutonium.)

    Hell, I'm wondering if it's possible to harness natural background radiation using this stuff.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJoe Paoli
    • CommentTimeMar 29th 2008
     (1596.2)
    Interesting. I remember reading something recently about a mushroom or fungus that also derives energy from radioactive things. Here's the only snippet I could find:


    from a blog

    Sounds like something out of radioactive man's secret lab. I read this story on spiegel.de, so it must be true. Apparently fungi Wangiella dermatitidis and Cryptococcus neoformans are capable of feeding off pure radioactive energy. Scientists in New York ran an experiment comparing one sample exposed to the normal level of background radiation, the other sample received 500 times that amount. The radiation junkie fungi thrived happily and outgrew the ecologically grown fungi. Apparently large quantities of this fungi have been found growing inside the Tchernobyl containment area. The authors speculate that this type of fungus could provide an unlimited food supply for nuclear-powered manned space exploration.