“Nuclear “batteries” are nothing new. Energy from a fist-size lump of plutonium has powered the Voyager spacecraft for 25 years. And tiny specks of the stuff kept pacemakers ticking for decades. Now, Hyperion Power Generation (HPG) is developing a nuclear battery capable of powering a town. The size of a hot tub, it can put out more than 25 megawatts for five years, enough to run 25,000 homes.
Building on technology developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Santa Fe (N.M.) startup’s battery runs on uranium hydride, which acts as fuel and also regulates power output, making it virtually impossible for the battery to suffer a meltdown. With no moving parts to break or corrode, HPG’s batteries can be buried in the earth for added security and safety. Their small size makes them easy to install and, later, to remove and refuel, cutting out the need to handle radioactive materials on site.
HPG plans to sell its first units to towns and industrial operations not connected to the grid. The company estimates lifetime costs for its battery will be a fraction of the price to build and run a natural gas plant with the same capacity. Backed by venture capital from Altira, HPG could have its batteries ready in six years”.
-By Adam Aston, Businessweek Magazine