Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Nuclear Electricity

As a neat little aside from ethanol production, there is a cool new result from former Los Alamos Lab nuclear engineers who have started their own company, named LAVM. This company revealed that they have created a nanoparticle array, composed of gold and lithium hydride (LiH), that is capable of converting nuclear radiation into electricity. Currently, nuclear energy is given off as heat, which in turn warms up water baths creating steam to move turbines and generate electricity. Although in its trial phases, researchers point out that using this technology could allow small nuclear applications such as space-craft using a small nuclear reactor to generate electricity in a small space. Furthermore, since the nanoparticles use the radiation to generate electricity, it has the potential to act as a radiation 'scrubber.' This technology is however in only preliminary stages and it will be some time before we know if it can be applied on a large scale. Either way it is very cool to see these new innovations moving forward.

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