Using radioactive Hydrogen gas Tritium, one YouTuber has charged his handheld gaming device GameBoy for a month to play one hour of Tetris. An engineer by profession, Ian Charnas in his latest video showed his viewers how he utilised the basic principle of nuclear power generation to charge his gaming device. Charnas starts the video by explaining how a nuclear power plant works and explains that for his project, he would not be using uranium — the chemical that fuels most of the high-powered nuclear plants as it is tough to obtain, but tritium which can be bought easily. Charnas explains the unique properties of tritium in his video and says that it is an isotope of hydrogen that is gaseous and mildly radioactive. To utilise this radioactive nature of tritium, Charnas created a solar cell that converted the light of the tritium into energy.
The YouTuber mentions that he tested various solar cells to test which one produces the most power in low-light-level. Considering the low radioactivity of tritium, Charnas mentioned that the difficult part was to find a battery that could hold the energy generated faster than it would dissipate. For this, he looked for thin-film solid-state batteries that leak at an extremely slow speed.
Charnas says that he realised that an actual Game Boy uses a million microwatts, which is a lot of energy expected from his Tritium batteries. Hence, he bought a cheap handheld gaming device that only consumed a thousand microwatts. Although this too was a lot to expect from the tritium battery, Charnas mentions that he looked for a way to store the energy produced by the nuclear battery to play tetris for a while.
Charnas finally finds his way of storing the energy as you see in the video. With the help of thin-film solid-state batteries, he charges the batteries for two months before connecting it to his game machine. Even though the energy produced was quite low considering how much time it took to charge, the video is a fine example of scientific creativity.