Craftable utility lights


As I said, a 100W floodlight, but it doesn’t really matter since there are no RTGs that provide even 15W without leaving the parameters I outlined.

Please provide info on actual devices, patent filings can be entirely fabricated, and don’t provide the data necessary to evaluate the claims. For example that patent cites a 1W+ output, but doesn’t cite how much radioactive material, generator circuitry or shielding is required for the device.


Regarding betavoltaics, they sound like what I thought plutonium cells were from description. A single cubic cm cell from 1970, the betacell, produced 0.4W using prometheum. We use plutonium in some pacemakers, but I have no idea the output… They’re built for small size, not battery output.

Still, it’s deeply strange to me that we have access to milspec plutonium batteries but apparently they can’t put out enough power to run a light bulb. What are they for?


These things are being made microchip sized presently. Stringing a few together in parallel would easily outperform a large RTG.
I hope this meets your information requirements:

Commercial betavoltaic battery manufacturer website & product listing with specifications:

Online Trade magazine article:

Army Technology Review:
M. Litz, “Isotope Beta-Battery Approaches For Long-Lived Sensors: Technology Review,” Army Research Laboratory, ARL-TR-7048, August 2014.

Scholarly Paper: Principles of Betavoltaic Battery Design:

As far as I can tell, the primary reasons there aren’t any larger scale individual devices presently is that this is still a maturing technology, and lithium ion batteries are cheaper for commercial electronics, rather than due to a physical limitation on scale or output.


Plenty of information, but the examples seem to produce power in the microwatt range, which is not what we’re talking about.

This is an assumption. MY assumption about this is that the things are ridiculously expensive and impractical, and the only time you would ever use them is if you have no alternative.


Those ones are pretty fancy. On a more attainable note, I’ve been having a good time reading about nuclear pacemaker batteries.

0.17g of plutonium in a battery developed in the sixties was sufficient for a 400 uW output. The papers about it are fascinating. As I understand it this is indeed a technology that scales very well… I’m trying to find the scale of the original batteries, most of which was containment and capturing material, to calculate what the output of our existing plutonium cells would be if they were BV cells of comparable efficiency. I keep getting bogged down in super interesting medical history though so don’t expect me back soon.


Look, a lot of this stuff is locked behind paywalls, I can’t get to (or even show you if I could without breaking the law) everything that is out there.

But based off of what information IS readily available on how they are designed and function there is ZERO EVIDENCE indicating a physical limitation on scale, or that they will always be commercially inviable. I can’t disprove a negative Kevin.

Also, there is plenty of documentation on WHY they aren’t used presently. Half the damn articles you find on google about BVD’s talk about why lithium ion batteries killed them off for a lot of applications, and plenty talk about how they may become cheaper and better in the future.


The main role they exist for is for long-term things that need steady power flow and don’t have access to plugins. Besides aerospace and medical implants, military use is the main one. I’d say a lot of survivor stuff does come down to, effectively, military use. (Edit, however as nameless survivor points out, we’re not going to be able to find you specs on military plutonium batteries online)

What are plutonium cells meant to be if not plutonium batteries? A big part of where I started with all this is the description of a plutonium cell in-game, “A nuclear-powered battery. Used to charge advanced and rare electronics.” and a big part of the confusion in this thread stems from me thinking batteries are often used to power lights, and you saying this one can’t power anything stronger than a nightlight.

Anyway. Back to the fun historical stuff and speculative engineering. It’s hard to get exact specs for the thermopile outside of the pacemaker, but in the seventies, plutonium BV cells somewhere in the 40-80 gram range containing less than .2g of plutonium produced 3-400 uW of power. A comparable cell scaled up to plutonium cells in game would produce somewhere around 30-40 mW. If the plutonium cells in game are alpha voltaic, or have more efficient energy capture than a cell developed in the seventies, or require less shielding, they could easily be much, much more efficient. In fact, it would be puzzling if they weren’t. For one thing if they’re using plutonium it probably means they’re using alpha capture rather than beta, which is higher energy but apparently wasn’t feasible in the seventies (the original papers just say they wish it could be. Alphavoltaic cells do exist now but I haven’t found much about them yet). I’m spitballing, and I’m no engineer, but I’d assume a plutonium battery by the tech level of cdda could produce a hundred times the energy of seventies level tech, considering what 2018 BV cells using different isotopes can produce.


Not my problem :smiley:

I’m not asking you to, I’m asking you to provide evidence of the thing you are saying exists. You’re the one asking to shift the status quo, so it’s on you to provide evidence. Can’t do it? That’s fine, I’ll just go with my own understanding, which is that that these things are not practical for anything besides tiny sensors and medical devices.

Just like hundreds of other hypothetical technologies that just need “a few more breakthroughs” to turn things around and dominate the market. Get back to me once they do get cheaper and better.

They’re a scifi macguffin that provides a lot of power on demand but consumes plutonium to do it. As such they’re only usable with scifi type items. That’s the division the game has, some things are scifi and work via scifi principles and other things are mundane and operate via mundane mechanisms. Base illumination is solidly in the mundane camp.

Over time I’m ratcheting down a lot of the needless scifi things in order to remove the potential for this kind of confusion. If you want to relabel “plutonium cells” as “unobtanium cells” or something, I’d be behind that.


Kevin, you are welcome to do this game however you want, its your game. But if you are going to go with the whole “It needs to exist right this second, give me spec sheets” thing, I can kill every single sci fi item in this game, along with a few of the seemingly more mundane ones, like the mininuke, and ESPECIALLY the mininuke hack. Its hard to contribute ideas you might find acceptable when the limitations on what kind of speculative or science fiction items or mechanisms are going to be accepted seem to be purely arbitrary and random.

I love this game and WANT to help develop ideas for improving it, but if you are going to shoot down ideas just for being somewhat speculative or science fiction based, some guidelines on these kinds of thing for what are/aren’t acceptable would be nice, because we’ve got holographic cloaks and plasma rifles and that is sending some serious mixed messages.


At this rate a BFG toting T-Rex style duke nukem is going to be a 50-50 on if it gets in.

But yeah guidelines are a must-have with things being like this.


I just want some rules! This game is so full of all kinds of impractical or flat out impossible science fiction crap I have no way to get a frame of reference for what might be acceptable. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way either.

If we could get requirements codified or even just a set of rough boundaries to work with, it would help a lot.


I think that’s a pretty fair way to summarize it.

When I can power a deadly finger-sized laser beam infinitely by eating french fries that are then used as fuel for my bionic batteries, it is hard to understand why I can’t use the plutonium batteries I have lying around to power a lightbulb. In the scheme of things, it seems like an extremely trivial use of the equipment we have to be met with such skepticism.

I agree with nameless, I don’t have any particular problem with being told not to, I’ll just make it a mod. I just don’t really understand why this degree of rigour is being demanded here, specifically.


Like atomic cars. How on earth would any sane government let highly radioactive anything run around in civilian hands in large quantities. It’s ridiculous, but we have them. I just can’t seem to get a bead on what is or isn’t too sci-fi or unrealistic, when that value seems to vary WILDLY in the game. It’s not just the superscience from the labs either, because it’s not restricted to that. Mininukes for example are something else impossible and impractical, but we have them.


Please read what I wrote.

There’s also a ton of other stuff I’ve written on the subject.

The current state of things is that these things are kind of ambiguous, and when there are guidelines they’re scattered all over the place. I’m actively working on a design document, but I don’t have an ETA for when it will be worth publishing.

If you can’t deal with the ambiguity, you’re just going to have to wait.

That’s not a 50-50, it’s a definite no.


Kevin, the moment you have that document posted I will be the thread’s first viewer, and I am sure it will be extremely helpful. I look forward to the day where myself and others can develop a proposal for this game’s development and have a reasonable degree of confidence it will not be immediately discarded.