- Tram Ho
Nuclear power is one of the most efficient forms of electricity generation on Earth. But with it comes a lot of radioactive elements, and not all levels of radiation are useful for generating electricity. It also requires high technology and strict requirements on equipment, protection, and techniques.
But that hasn’t stopped YouTuber Ian Charnas from tinkering with a portable gaming device with a nuclear-powered battery. But because it’s handmade, it takes two months to charge and only lets you play the game for about an hour, not to mention just a bit of Tetris jigsaw puzzle.
Tubes containing tritium gas can emit luminous light.
Essentially, Charnas’ handheld Gameboy-type machine uses tritium as its nuclear fuel source. Tritium is a rare isotope of hydrogen gaseous and mildly radioactive. As this YouTuber explains, anyone can buy glass tubes containing tritium, which emits a pleasant radioactive light in a variety of colors. Charnas’s plan is to use tritium to create a solar cell that converts tritium’s light into energy.
The design of tritium batteries is neither new nor powerful in terms of performance. For this project, Charnas created a series of vials containing tritium and wrapped it to create solar cells. That’s the easiest part. The harder part is finding a battery that can keep the energy generated faster than it drains. Charnas’s choice is a thin-film solid-state battery.
The battery stacking process is done with a microscope.
The problem is that solid-state batteries are like a nightmare because the process of working with it is extremely complicated and difficult. They are so small and thin that it is difficult to fit properly on the circuit board. Specialized machines usually handle precise measurements to align solid-state batteries, but Charnas has to do it by hand.
Originally, his intention was to use a tritium cell to power the Game Boy. However, at full power, his nuclear fuel cell only produces 1.5 microwatts of power.
“Turns out a Game Boy uses almost a million microwatts, which is too much,” he said in his video. “So I bought a bunch of cheap knockoffs and found one that used only about 1,000 microwatts.”
The game machine runs on nuclear power when completed.
The handheld Charnas used was a simple machine, playing Tetris-style games, running the game on an inexpensive LED display with no backlight. It was the perfect system to test such a clunky nuclear-powered battery, and Charnas charged it for two months before turning it on.
It worked for an hour. It’s clearly not the most efficient gaming machine ever invented, but it’s still a fascinating feat of engineering. Charnas is putting this nuclear-powered gaming machine up for sale and will be donating the proceeds to a charity that helps children living near Chernobyl.
Refer to Vice
Source : Genk