A novel radioisotope battery made from nuclear waste

The Atlas Energy Systems technology is significant in that it provides a way to turn high-level radioactive decay products from spent nuclear fuel into a usable energy source via radioisotope plasma generation. This material is usually considered nuclear waste to be stored and buried, but it still contains large amounts of residual energy. With the growing demands for energy from all sorts of sources, spent nuclear fuel should be further utilized as an energy source rather than buried and thrown away.

Critical need for this technology

The nuclear fuel process creates a by-product of radioisotopes from the fission process that is highly radioactive waste and must be stored somewhere for decades until it is considered safe. This technology converts the radioisotopes in the waste into energy, which reduces the amount of storage space needed for nuclear waste. In addition, this technology can replace other energy sources such as gasoline and lithium-ion batteries, reducing their negative environmental impacts caused by emission and metal waste products, respectively.

Supplemental needs for this technology

The energy generated through this technology provides a longer lasting, lighter weight alternative to the most efficient current energy sources: traditional batteries and gasoline. The radioisotopes in nuclear waster are more than 3,000 times more energy dense than gasoline and more than 20,000 more energy dense than electrochemical batteries[1].

It also provides an emission-free alternative to gasoline.

Competition

  • Lithium-ion batteries
    • Atlas Power Cell advantage: 20,000 times more energy dense, no disposal of toxic lithium waste
  • Fossil-fuel powered generators
    • Atlas Power Cell advantage: 3,000 times more energy dense, no emissions
  • Radioisotope thermoelectric generators
    • Atlas Power Cell advantage: 7.3 times more efficient, can use all types of ionizing radiation, and not a thermal energy converter
  • Beavoltaic batteries
    • Atlas Power Cell advantage: 14.7 times more efficient, can use all types of ionizing radiation, not just one

Potential markets

  • Space Power
  • Military: Portable battery packs for soldiers and generators
  • Low-power cells for sensors
  • Telecommunications industry: Off-grid generators for remote locations
  • Nuclear power plant manufactures who must pay to dispose of waste
  • Nuclear fuel reprocessors

Value proposition: Atlas Power Cell technology is a lighter weight, longer lasting, weather-independent power source than traditional energy sources. It doubles as a way to recycle nuclear waste and does not produce harmful by-products.

Key innovation

The Atlas Power Cell technology uses ionizing radiation from radioisotopes to create a non-equilibrium plasma, which converts energy released from radioisotopes into usable electric power. Most of the energy from the radiation particle is converted. One power cell can provide electricity for the duration of the radioactive material’s half-life and can be stacked with other power cells to create a larger system.

R&D status of product

The principles of the device have been proven and the current research and development is focused on non-equilibrium plasma chemistry to increase the efficiency and power density of the product.

Team Overview

CEO
Ian Hamilton
Bachelor’s degree in materials science engineering; pursuing a master’s degree in nuclear engineering, both at Purdue University

COO
Josh Auger
Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering; pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue University

Founding Member
Kyle Harris
Bachelor’s degree in management from Purdue University

Founding Member
Kyle Pendergast
Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Purdue University

Advisors

Robert Bean, Nuclear Engineering, PhD
Dr. Bean oversees PUR-1 Research nuclear reactor at Purdue University, an expert in nuclear facility safeguards as well as radiation detection and measurement. Dr. Bean is the director of Radiation Laboratories at Purdue University.

Thomas Adams, Nuclear Engineering, PhD
Dr. Tom Adams is a research scientist at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division. He focuses on the development and implementation of law power betavoltaics and nuclear batteries.

Mike Shepard, Entrepreneur-in-Resident, Purdue Foundry at Elevate Ventures
Mike is a financial and engineering executive who has developed strategic plans and built the infrastructure to accelerate revenue for early stage / high growth companies. Raised over $35M dollars in angel and venture capital, negotiated $15M in capital leases and $4M in convertible debt. Reviewed thousands of business plans, performed due diligence and made investment recommendations.

Background Resources

Company Profile

  • Total Amount Raised: $40,000
    • 2014 Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition, Second Place: $10,000
    • 2015 Indiana State Clean Energy Competition, First Place: $10,000
    • 2015 Purdue Elevate Ventures Black Award: $20,000
  • Status: Private
  • Year Founded: 2014
  • Patents: 2 Patents Pending
  • Primary Industry: Energy generation
  • Category: Batteries and nuclear waste remediation
  • Estimated annual revenue: NA
  • Employs: 2 people
  • Social Challenge: Sustainable energy and nuclear waste remediation
  • R&D commercial collaborator: None

[1] Technology and Innovation Enablers for Superiority in 2030; The Defense Science Board, Department of Defense. October 2013.

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