May 21, 2017
Recently, the nano-diamond thermal energy utilization technology has made important progress. This technology marks another new use of diamond, the hardest material in the world, in the efficient use of energy.
Through a device called thermionic energy converter, various resources such as solar energy, geothermal energy, and nuclear energy are converted into electrical energy. This technology has been available as early as the 1950s, used to power spacecraft and extract energy from nuclear reactors. But what kind of material is used to efficiently extract energy has always been a technical problem; if the technology breaks through the limit, it can provide heat energy up to 1200°C. In recent years, with the advent of nanodiamond technology, scientists at Bristol University may make it a reality.
The scientific research project has two purposes:
First, through the combination with plasma nanostructures, the superior properties of diamond in the thermionic converter are maximized, thereby maximizing the absorption of solar energy and finally converting it into electrical energy.
Second, study how the beta radiation produced by carbon 14 (C14) in radioactive graphite can improve the working performance of the thermionic diamond energy converter. If the C14 in the energy converter can be fully utilized, it will provide a more economical method for the treatment of radioactive graphite in the decommissioned Magnox&AGR nuclear reactor in the UK. These materials can be used as raw materials for a new type of thermionic energy converter, called "β-enhanced thermionic diamond converter" (BTDC).
The project plans to have an interdisciplinary professional scientific research team: Tom and Peter from the Interface Analysis Center (IAC); Martin Cryan from the Department of Electronic Engineering; Flewitt from the Department of Physics and Neil allan from the Department of Chemistry.
The research is expected to be applied to the fields of people's livelihood, military and space power generation.