How many nuclear batteries like the Chinese one would be needed to power a smartphone?

The Chinese company Beijing Betavolt New Energy Technology developed a prototype of drumsnuclear“. According to their website, it would be a battery capable of delivering 100 microwatts Of power (0.1 mW) to one voltage Of 3V. At this point the question might be: “How many of these batteries would be needed to power a cell phone?” Let’s do a couple of calculations.

Let’s consider a smartphone with a traditional lithium-ion battery 4000mAh of electric charge and with a voltage Of 3 V (like that of the Betavolt nuclear battery for convenience). Bear in mind that the voltage of a traditional battery is around 3.8 V, so it is an approximation not too far from reality. By multiplying these two values ​​we find that the battery of this hypothetical smartphone can store 12 Wh Of power.

Now, let’s consider an average autonomy of 3pm (from 08:00 to 23:00). This means that every hour, the battery consumes approx 0.8Wh and consequently, the power delivered per unit time is 0.8W.

Knowing that each nuclear battery only delivers 0.1mWwe can calculate how many batteries would be needed to deliver the same power needed for our smartphone with a simple division: we therefore obtain a value of 8000 nuclear batteries to be placed in parallel to deliver 0.8W of power.

Each nuclear battery has a thickness of 5 mm: if we placed 8000 batteries on top of each other we would obtain a pile 40 meters high.

nuclear battery dimensions thickness

These calculations are useful to get a “spannometric” idea and the order of magnitude of how many nuclear batteries can be used for practical use. Clearly, different results can be obtained by changing the smartphone’s voltage, battery life and use.

So the power of the nuclear battery prototype developed by Betavolt still remains very low to be considered a valid alternative. However, this does not mean that it is a useless product: we reiterate that it is a prototype, the aim of which is simply to demonstrate that the technology works. Now clearly Betavolt will work to increase performance: the company aims to reach a power of 1 watt by the end of 2025so that it can actually be used to power a smartphone.

In any case, we have created an ad hoc video in which we see the functioning of nuclear batteries from a physical point of view and the difference with nuclear power plants and atomic bombs. We’ll leave it for you below.