Nuclear-powered cars are the future, according to Charles Stevens.
The idea of a nuclear-powered car seems like a pipedream for the future. Well, according to scientists at the Massachusetts R&D firm Laser Power Systems, a thorium-powered nuclear reactor under the hood isn't such a far off proposition. Charles Stevens of LPS Power Systems has just revealed to Txchnologist.com that he is currently working on a prototype vehicle that uses a turbine/electric generator system that is powered by "an accelerator-driven thorium-based laser."
Thorium was used by the U.S. in the 1960s for breeding nuclear fuel and Russia, India and China plan to use the silvery-white metal for their nuclear power. Though safer than uranium, most are skeptical of a prototype that would contain such a radioactive material. Stevens claims his car would emit zero-emissions. His system comprises of a high-intensity "MaxFelaser" laser powered by thorium. The beam produces heat rather than light and turns water into pressurized steam, in turn spinning a turbine and generating electricity. The system puts out 250 kilowatts, the equivalent to 335hp.
It will weigh in at 500lbs, lighter than most standard combustion engines, and will fit comfortably under the hood. Stevens completed his MaxFelaser in 1985 and is now integrating it with a modified Tesla turbine and generator. The thorium-based system seems to be much more realistic than any uranium-fueled arrangement. Though the former is safer than the latter, radioactivity levels and the threat of the devices being used in a perverted and harmful manner could be imagined. We last saw a nuclear-powered prototype at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show.
Cadillac unveiled their World Thorium Fueled Concept (pictured) at the Illinois show, running on a (at the time hypothetical) thorium fueled nuclear reactor.