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Research, Development, and Evaluation Capabilities for Betavoltaic Power Sources

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Nuclear and Radiological Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Nuclear and Radiological

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1334.1 - 26.1334.15



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Paper Authors


Thomas E. Adams NSWC Crane / Purdue University, West Lafayette

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B.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Akron, 1987
M.S. Systems Engineering, Naval Postgraduate School, 2007
M.S. Nuclear Engineering, Purdue University, 2011
Ph.D. Nuclear Engineering, Purdue University, 2014

Employed by Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, on a PhD fellowship at Purdue University. Over 25 years experience in development and evaluation of power sources. Currently conducting R&D on radioactive sources for power generation. Tom Adams has a strong background in battery power from his experience at NSWC Crane for 20 years. The experience includes testing and evaluation on batteries used in aircraft, missiles, hand-held devices and submarines, development of new battery designs and processes and design of equipment to measure the state of health of a battery. Since 2004, he has provided technical guidance on power sources for the Anti-Tamper/Software Protection Initiative (AT-SPI) by developing a power alternative guide for the design, and the validation and verification community. He is a member of the Inter-Agency Power Group (IAPG), American Society of Naval Engineers, and American Nuclear Society (ANS), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and American Society of Engineering Education. He is currently working towards a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering in the area of direct conversion of radiation to electricity with the focus on semiconductor and emission efficiency.

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Shripad T. Revankar Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Revankar is a Professor of Nuclear Engineering at Purdue University. His main focus is on Energy -science and technology with sustained and distinguished achievements over the past three decades. His research intrests are on fuel cell, compact power sources including beta voltaic cells, multiphase flow and heat transfer, reactor thermalhydraulics, reactor safety, and nuclear hydrogen production.

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Abstract: Research, Development and Evaluation Capabilities for Betavoltaic Power Sources. Tom Adams1,2 and Shripad Revankar1 1 Purdue University Naval Surface Warfare Center School of Nuclear Engineering Crane Division 400 Central Drive 300 Highway 361 West Lafayette, IN 47907 Crane, IN 47522Betavoltaic cells are quickly emerging as an attractive alternative to batteries in military,exploration, and medical applications. Though power is low, the energy is very high due to theirlong operating lives. Betavoltaics convert kinetic energy of radiation particles into electricityinside a semiconductor p-n junction, similar to that of a solar cell (photovoltaic). Thoughdeveloped in the early 1950’s, development of betavoltaics has been sparse until recently. A fewUS companies for military applications led the resurgence. US Government agencies haveidentified betavoltaics as a disruptive technology that is needed and should be pursued, asevident in reports and solicitations. Some research is occurring in the US but the majority ofresearch in the last four years has come from Asian universities. To increase R&D capabilitiesin betavoltaic cells and other radioisotope power sources in the US, a dedicated laboratory wasestablished at Purdue University for R&D in betavoltaics. Collaboration with Governmentagencies and industry ensures a high success-rate for this facility, identifies critical areas of thetechnology, defines applications, and provides funding opportunities to support research, andfacility operation and sustainability. The laboratory currently possesses capabilities to evaluatebetavoltaics under Purdue University’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license, and toinvestigate hydrogen loading of metal hydrides. However, a strategy is needed to provide amulti-disciplinary curriculum to ensure students researching in this technology obtain thenecessary knowledge, skills and. experience. Because a betavoltaic consists of a radioactivesource and a semiconductor p-n junction, education is needed in material science, mechanicalengineering, and electrical engineering as well as in nuclear engineering along with regulations,policies, and perceptions. Coupled with experimentation, students will have the opportunity tocontribute to the advancement of the technology and prepare for successful employment.

Adams, T. E., & Revankar, S. T. (2015, June), Research, Development, and Evaluation Capabilities for Betavoltaic Power Sources Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24671

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