Circuit Break Podcast #418: Entangled Steam

Podcast Title: Entangled Steam

Release Date: 2024-02-20

Episode: #418

Parker and Stephen dive into the world of batteries, sparked by the BetaVolt BV100’s claim of a 50-year lifespan. With discussions on its construction, potential applications, and recycling challenges, they unpack the implications of this revolutionary energy source.

Podcast Audio:

Podcast Notes:

Contest Announcement

Introducing a new Circuit Break contest! This contest is themed around building food-related electronic projects. We’re offering over $5,000 in cash prizes, themed trophies, and free prototyping from MacroFab. The deadline to submit is March 31st, 2024. Thanks to Mouser Electronics for sponsoring the contest prizes!

Discussion Highlights

  • Introduction to the BetaVolt BV100 Battery: Overview of the Chinese-developed atomic battery boasting a 50-year lifespan, built with a Nickel-63 isotope and diamond semiconductor material.:battery:
  • Low Power Output and Future Plans: Discussion on the BV100’s low power output and plans for a higher-powered version in 2025, anticipated to be larger in size.
  • Bad Movie Tangent: Parker’s love for terrible movies, including Leprechaun 2 with its leprechaun go-kart scene and the Tremors movie series. Sequels that violate their own universe rules.
  • Battery Terminology: Explanation of nuclear vs. atomic vs. beta voltaic batteries, with a mention of photovoltaic technology.
  • Recycling Challenges: Consideration of the challenges associated with recycling radioactive materials, including uranium ore. :recycle:
  • Decay Curve and Output Analysis: Deliberation on the decay curve and power output over time of the BV100 battery.
  • Phone Application: Speculation on the potential use of the BV100 battery in smartphones, with the possibility of lasting 50 years without needing to be recharged.:iphone:
  • Quiescent Draw Calculation: Calculation of the quiescent draw that a smartphone would pull from the BV100 battery over a 24-hour period.
  • Limitations and Usage Scenarios: Discussion on the limitations of low power and various usage scenarios for a nuclear-powered phone, including limited functionality and screen usage.
  • Satellite Thrusters Application: The potential application of atomic batteries in satellite thrusters, particularly with the release of the higher-powered version.:artificial_satellite:
  • Radioactive Safety Concerns: Concerns raised about the proximity of radioactive elements to users’ heads in a phone and its potential safety implications.:radioactive:
  • Quantum Entangled Energy Transmission: Extremely speculative discussion on quantum entangled energy transmission and its potential applications in the future.
  • Questions to our listeners:
    • Invitation to Quantum Physicists: How badly did we mess up quantum mechanics? We’d love to have an expert join us to discuss quantum mechanics for a future episode!
    • Also, if this becomes a real thing, how would you use 100 microwatts at 3 volts?

Relevant Links

The most important factor will be how much the BV100 costs in volume.

If it’s cost-competitive per WHr against lithium-ion, it’s easy to imagine applications. Sourcing 100uW at even 1V is better than what the typical RF energy harvesters are capable of in an RF-rich environment. So, this should be capable of doing all the nifty IoT applications researchers have been powering with RF energy harvesters but in environments without RF to harvest.

At 100uWdc, one only needs a 10WHr battery to last ~10 years, give or take, and that system can be made easily today at a low cost. So if it’s more expensive, it would have to reduce the service rate to slower than once every ten years or an application willing to pay a premium for volume and/or weight. Given that all the other stuff in the system has to last more than ten years without service, if one wants to extend the rate, that could be an issue for many applications. But there is always a nitch.

This was a long time ago, but my now ex-wife did (or at least part of) the audio for a couple of the Leprechaun movies… wow, they were tough to watch (or rather hear, over and over and over again).

Speaking of Tritium rifle scopes, I was recently reminded of the “Nuclear Boy Scout” who used them… The Story of the Nuclear Boy Scout - Stuff You Should Know | iHeart

Not a quantum physicist but I do work on quantum computer control systems so I’m exposed to a lot of the theory. Uh, the discussion on quantum entanglement was missing the key bit of them being single use. Yes you can transmit information instantly but you need a supply chain to supply fresh ones.

QaaS! Quantum as a Service. I can see the subscription model now!

Already a thing: IonQ Quantum Cloud

Do you or have anyone to recommend to be a guest on the podcast to discuss what engineers really need to know about quantum?

I’m always up for being a podcast guest. Whether I’ll have the answers to your questions, or who to recommend instead, depends a lot on what you want to know about quantum. There’s a lot happening at the physics level, control systems level, algorithm level, and applications level. I mostly deal with the lower-level bits so I can talk quite a bit about how quantum computers work but not so much about what they are useful for.

I mean, I’d still love to hear the nitty-gritty (as much as you can disclose) about the low-level “infrastructure” required for quantum computation.

I’m game if Parker is.

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