A Guide to Nuclear Waste Batteries

Nuclear power and apple; one generates power through the use of fission reactions while the other generates profit through the use of fan reactions. At first glance, it would seem like the two have nothing in common.

However, recent news suggests that a union may be in the works, and it may be driven by the unwavering consumer demand for longer battery life. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the story and tell you everything you need to know about the subject.

When Were Nuclear Waste Batteries Invented?

To get the full picture of when these so-called radioactive diamond batteries started to get traction in the scientific world, you have to go back a couple of years to the summer of 2018 when a research team from the University of Bristol visited a volcano near Sicily.

Stromboli, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, has always been a point of interest for geologists. The scientists used a drone to monitor the volcano since a fleshy human perched that close to molten rock seemed like a bad idea.

Their robot was the size of a softball and powered by nuclear energy. The nuclear energy was powering the robot in microdoses using a radioactive battery as tiny as a single square of chocolate.

Material scientist Tom Scott and his collaborators saw the potential of this battery tech, so they’ve spent the past few years studying its possible applications. They strive to create a nuclear battery that can last for thousands of years on a single charge.

This would make it perfect for applications like space probes where you can’t exactly rely on USB-C cables to power a battery. Speaking of USB-C (or the lack thereof), iPhones may be an early adopter of this technology. More on that a couple of sections down.

So What Are Nuclear Waste Batteries?

The prototype from the aforementioned Tom Scott and his company Arkenlight is a nuclear diamond battery the size of a fingernail. It’s far superior to the chemical batteries like lithium-ion that you’d find inside your smartphone for a few reasons, primarily, charge capacity.

While lithium-ion cells can only operate for a few hours on one charge, nuclear batteries can last for millennia — and that’s not even an exaggeration. They achieve this by trickling out tiny amounts of power over a long period rather than expending it all at once.

This means that, historically, they haven’t been able to put out enough power to juice up your latest smartphone. That has all changed thanks to Arkenlight. Their unique diamond lattice matrix is so tight that it’s impossible for beta particles to escape.

Essentially, they’ve managed to create a nuclear battery with an energy density high enough for commercial applications. At the moment, it’s more suitable for space components as the tech will need more downsizing before it can be used for smartphones.

That may not be too far off though…

Nuclear iPhones?

If you told people just a decade ago that a future iPhone would have anything to do with nuclear power, they would have laughed in your face. Heck, two decades ago they wouldn’t have even believed the iPhone itself was possible.

That’s set to change with the iPhone 16 as it’s looking into nuclear waste diamond batteries to get rid of the battery life problem that has plagued Apple from the start — once and for all. NDB, a Californian company, claims they’ve overcome the power output issue.

nuclear waste battery

They’ve done this by developing nano-diamond batteries that utilize the alpha decay of radioisotopes in addition to the beta decay. This gives it a high enough output to power both smartphones and laptops.

Because Apple has already made the switch to ARM processors on their Mac line, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they’re among the first to use nuclear batteries in their products. Although, it looks as if Tesla will likely get in line too for the sake of increasing the range on their EVs!

Environmental Implications

Whenever someone hears the word nuclear in a sentence, they often think of disruptive and harmful effects on the environment. They picture an entire ecosystem getting disturbed in the name of human progress.

However, this is no Chernobyl incident. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as nuclear waste diamond batteries are set to make things better for the environment, not worse. This may be hard to believe initially but it all comes down to the technology behind these batteries.

It’s simple supply and demand. These batteries are powered by nuclear waste. That’s a pretty solid demand. With the demand comes value, so people will stop dumping their radioactive waste on Mother Nature and supply it to manufacturers instead — at a premium cost no doubt.

In essence, this technology not only provides a better alternative to lithium-ion power cells but turns waste into a commodity too valuable to dispose of. This will undoubtedly usher in a new era of recycling in the name of profit.

Conclusion: Innovation is Truly Constant

As you can see, we’re yet to reach the limit of human innovation. Even after splitting the atom, landing on the moon, and powering cars with electricity instead of fossil fuels, our species still refuses to slow down in the quest for scientific advancement.

It’s truly exciting to see where nuclear waste batteries and other inventions that are yet to surface will take us in the decades to come. Who knows, maybe a colonist on Mars will read this very article through their holographic, fusion-powered phone in the year 2100.

A lot can happen in a hundred years. People have been trying to harness the potential of radioactive material since the 1900s yet only now are we approaching the point of commercial viability for small electronics. It seems as though persistence will always be the key.

That’s all for now, stay safe, and keep striving for discovery!