Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Hot Idea For Insulating Tiny Batteries

Date:
January 12, 2007
Source:
University Of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Engineering physics researchers are devising a unique "blanket" that will enable them to squeeze as much electricity as possible from nuclear-powered batteries the size of a grain of coarse salt. Such batteries, which exploit the natural decay of radioisotopes to generate electricity, could provide virtually indefinite power for micro-technologies like fly-sized robots for military applications or sensors that monitor a building's health.

Engineering physics researchers are devising a unique "blanket" that will enable them to squeeze as much electricity as possible from nuclear-powered batteries the size of a grain of coarse salt.

Such batteries, which exploit the natural decay of radioisotopes to generate electricity, could provide virtually indefinite power for micro-technologies like fly-sized robots for military applications or sensors that monitor a building's health.

Other technologies such as fuel cells, chemical batteries or turbine generators also might work in micro-scale applications, says Professor James Blanchard. "But all of them are short-lived," he says. "They either need to be recharged or refueled. Our niche is things that need to be placed and ignored, and just keep running for years."

Nuclear microbatteries convert heat or energy to electricity more efficiently when they are hot, so it makes sense to insulate them, says Blanchard. "The better the insulation, the hotter the source gets, so the more efficient the battery can be," he says.

However, insulating a millimeter-square battery in a way that minimizes heat loss is no easy task. Multifoil insulation is an effective macro-level insulator that combines several thin layers of foil each separated by a vacuum. "They work because they're radiating heat from one layer to another, as opposed to conducting heat through a solid," says Blanchard.

For the microscale, however, multifoil insulation is far too thick.

So, capitalizing on the layered concept, which reduces heat radiation for a fixed temperature drop, Blanchard and graduate student Rui Yao decided to sandwich semicircular silicon oxide pillars-poor conductors-between very thin silicon sheets.

"You want as little conduction through these pillars as possible," says Blanchard.

They developed elaborate computer models to study the heat radiation and conduction of their microscale insulaton. And, using Wisconsin Center for Applied Microelectronics clean room facilities, Yao constructed silicon prototypes.

He now is experimentally verifying what his computer models suggest-that heat is radiating through the silicon layers without much heat loss. "The prototypes he built are a little thicker than the ones we ultimately want to get, but they're consistent with his models," says Blanchard.

Funded by a three-year, $300,000 Department of Energy grant and inspired by an earlier collaboration with Sandia National Laboratory researchers, Blanchard and Yao are still testing and refining the insulation. Implementation for this promising technology, they say, is a couple of years down the road.

"It looks like we'll have an effective insulator that's better than any solid-and better, even, than some of the multi-foil insulations that you can buy commercially," says Blanchard.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "A Hot Idea For Insulating Tiny Batteries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070111184410.htm>.
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. (2007, January 12). A Hot Idea For Insulating Tiny Batteries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070111184410.htm
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "A Hot Idea For Insulating Tiny Batteries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070111184410.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins