Thorium-Fueled Automobile Engine Needs Refueling Once a Century

By: | October 28th, 2013

Thorium Concept Car

Thorium Concept Car - Image Courtesy www.greenpacks.com

There are now over one billion cars traveling roads around the world directly and indirectly costing trillions of dollars in material resources, time and noxious emissions. Imagine all these cars running cleanly for 100 years on just 8 grams of fuel each.

Laser Power Systems (LPS) from Connecticut, USA, is developing a new method of automotive propulsion with one of the most dense materials known in nature: thorium. Because thorium is so dense it has the potential to produce tremendous amounts of heat. The company has been experimenting with small bits of thorium, creating a laser that heats water, produces steam and powers a mini turbine.

Cadillac World Thorium Fuel Concept

Cadillac World Thorium Fuel Concept (Image Courtesy www.cutedesign.com)

Current models of the engine weigh 500 pounds, easily fitting into the engine area of a conventionally-designed vehicle. According to CEO Charles Stevens, just one gram of the substance yields more energy than 7,396 gallons (28,000 L) of gasoline and 8 grams would power the typical car for a century.

The idea of using thorium is not new. In 2009, Loren Kulesus designed the Cadillac World Thorium Fuel Concept Car. LPS is developing the technology so it can be mass-produced.

Wider Implications of Thorium

According to Robert Hargraves, “low or non-CO2 emitting energy sources must be cheaper than coal or will ultimately fail to displace fossil fuels.” The United States uses 20% of the world’s energy today and, according to Hargraves, if it cut its CO2 emissions to zero, 80% produced by other countries would still be a problem. With CO2 emissions climbing seemingly beyond all bounds, pessimism is rampant and bold ideas are needed.

Thorium may also be the answer to the world’s nuclear energy conundrum and Wikipedia provides some of its advantages:

  • Weapons-grade fissionable material (233U) is harder to retrieve safely and clandestinely from a thorium reactor; this means, for example, Iran could be asked to develop only a thorium based reactor, virtually eliminating the issue of nuclear weapon development.
  • Thorium produces 10 to 10,000 times less long-lived radioactive waste;
  • Thorium mining produces a single pure isotope, whereas the mixture of natural uranium isotopes must be enriched to function in most common reactor designs. The same cycle could also use the fissionable U-238 component of the natural uranium, and also contained in the depleted reactor fuel;
  • Thorium cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction without priming,[29] so fission stops by default in an accelerator driven reactor.

Hargraves sees factories and other industrial concerns using thorium as well. Stay tuned as we track this idea and its development.

Thanks for reading! To thank you, here are a few resources you may find helpful.

David Schilling

David lives in Boston in close proximity to Boston University, Boston College, MIT, Harvard, Northeastern as well as Bostons leading companies and labs. You can also find David on Google+.

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11 thoughts on “Thorium-Fueled Automobile Engine Needs Refueling Once a Century

  1. Bernard
    November 3, 2013 at 12:34 am

    not just cars but trains, road trains ships

  2. November 3, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Love this kind of info. a relief from gloom and doom.

  3. November 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Im not caring what this Hargraves states. 20% reduction of emissions is substantially a good amount of reduction.

    I would buy that car in a heart beat.

    1. DWH
      November 6, 2013 at 10:26 am

      How would you be able to make the payments? That baby has to be about as hald expensive as a nuclear reactor! LOL

  4. November 5, 2013 at 7:47 am

    This sounds good, but he didn’t mention the bad side of thorium at all.

    We can’t get out of the energy crisis with bias in the way. :(

  5. Chris Richards
    November 7, 2013 at 6:08 am

    I like the concept of a near-zero-emission engine stsyem, but could we put it in a nicer-looking car? I’d like something like a ’76 Toyota Celica, or a ’73 XB Falcon GT, or even a ’73 VJ Valiant Charger. ANY of those would look better than the pictured vehicle.

  6. November 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    So, What do we do for clean-up if there is a car wreck?

  7. November 15, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Close but no cigar.

    Try this for the solution to the ancient 100 year old internal combustion engine;

    EVUR – ELECTRIC VEHICLE UNLIMITED RANGE

    http://www.evur.us

  8. Jim
    December 1, 2013 at 1:52 am

    Sounds wonderful! I am a welding lecturer by profession and thorium tungsten tips were banned in Australia because they were radioactive, how has this volatility been handled?

  9. Aasi
    December 4, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Only time will tell rest of the story…

  10. SingarveluK
    January 8, 2014 at 8:14 am

    I am very interested in the information that an alternate fuel is in our hand.
    pls mail the related information like this

    Thanks

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