Energy Program Provides Next Step For Innovation

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The Purdue University entrepreneur who was chosen this week to take part in the new Chain Reaction Innovations program at the prestigious Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois says it will allow him to take his patent-pending technology to the next level. Ian Hamilton, the chief executive officer of Atlas Energy Systems, says he will use the two-year program to further development of his idea to convert nuclear waste into usable energy.

Hamilton says his goal is to create radioisotope batteries for the aerospace industry, military and other applications. He says having access to the resources at the Argonne National Laboratory will allow him to further his research in a way that he couldn't at Purdue.

"It got to the point where, to build and test this safely and experiment with, I needed essentially a radiation source that mimicked nuclear waste that I could turn on and off. In the physics industry, this is known as a particle accelerator," said Hamilton. "They are very, very big, expensive pieces of machinery and there was no way I was going to be able to get one on my own and, through this program, I now have access to multiple that I can use."

He adds the program gives him access to a large network of industry mentors at the Polski Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago and the Purdue Foundry. Hamilton says, while he has a lot of work ahead of him, he hopes he can bring a new option for safe, clean energy.

"Radioisotope power supplies, tiny nuclear batteries, have been the backbone of our space program for 60 years now," said Hamilton. "My first market is to go try and work with NASA and develop one for their needs. The second market is developing radioisotope batteries for military applications."

The Argonne National Laboratory says the technology being developed by Hamilton will reduce the amount of storage space needed for nuclear waste, which can remain radioactive and produce energy for years. It could also eventually replace other energy sources such as gasoline and lithium-ion batteries.

Hamilton is currently pursuing his master's degree in nuclear engineering at Purdue. He says the CRI program won't interfere with his studies and he is on pace to graduate in May.

You can learn more about Hamilton's technology in the view below from Argonne National Laboratory:

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