8g of Thorium for 300,000 Miles - Lasers for Nuclear-Powered Cars

Prototype

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.

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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.

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