By Robert M. Burns/Bloomberg article “The atom doesn’t care about the mass,” said Thomas Szasz, a physicist at MIT.
“When it’s breaking down, its going to get to someplace else and that’s where the energy is going to be.”
Szasz and his colleagues are developing a way to track the energy loss in the form of a chemical reaction, which they hope will eventually lead to more efficient and smaller batteries for electric vehicles.
The process involves a liquid metal called boron, which is mixed with a catalyst, an electrically charged liquid that absorbs light.
When the borocarbons are mixed, they convert into a hydrogen gas.
The hydrogen atoms are then released from the catalyst, creating a cascade of events, which can lead to a chain reaction of reactions.
The result is a catalyst that is more energy-efficient than conventional batteries.
Szsz said he and his collaborators are using a process that is called “flux-forming” and which was developed by Szasy and his fellow researchers at MIT and Carnegie Mellon universities.
A typical fission reaction involves splitting atoms of uranium into smaller, lighter atoms.
The smaller atomic components are used to make the catalyst.
But Szas, who is also a senior researcher at the Center for Advanced Materials in Pasadena, California, has developed a way of doing it that does not involve splitting atoms.
The researchers developed a method to “fuse” a catalyst with a borovacarbons, or boroboroborate, catalyst, which turns a liquid boride into a borosilicate glass.
The borotrope is then cooled to the point that it forms an electrode, which allows it to absorb light and convert it into electrical energy.
The energy is then released.
Szik said he is not the first to apply fission-based methods to batteries.
“There’s a lot of people who are trying to do fission, but we’re the first ones who’re actually applying fission to batteries,” he said.
The approach has several advantages, Szaszes said.
“First, we don’t have to make a lot.
The reaction takes place at room temperature, so it’s very inexpensive.”
Second, “fission can’t go too far,” he added.
He said the energy absorbed in the reaction can be converted into useful chemical energy for use in an electrolyte.
And third, “it’s really inexpensive.”
In the future, Szsz’s team hopes to develop the technique to make more efficient lithium-ion batteries, which he said will require fewer materials and more efficient electrodes.
“Right now, the batteries we use in electric vehicles are extremely expensive,” he noted.
“They are expensive because they are expensive.
It’s a huge engineering challenge to make them cheaper.”
Szesz said it would take a few years to develop such a battery.
But he added that the method has the potential to be applied to other applications, such as solar panels, wind turbines and photovoltaic cells.
“There are some exciting new applications in battery research that are being done by people who know how to do fusion-based fission,” Szaszy said.
He also noted that he hopes the technique will one day be used to convert hydrogen to liquid borate.
“It’s the first fusion reaction,” he explained.
“If we can do it with borol and fission it will be the future.”
Follow Robert on Twitter: @robertmcburns and @nytimesmagazine