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Thorium Powered Car : 1 million miles on 8 gsm of fuel.

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A US company says it will have a nuclear-powered prototype vehicle on the road within two years.

thorium car 2

Cadillac world thorium fuel concept car

I am sure there will be more than a couple of regulations and red tape they will have to overcome, but the development has so many implications for all other transport needs and for power generation for micro-grids. Given the thousands of scientist working on thorium powered devices in Asia it is encouraging to see efforts like this in the west. It may be a more fantasy than fact at the moment. This appears to have lot of promise but is on my scam alert. It makes for a good weekend read.

Laser Power Systems from Connecticut is developing a method of propulsion that uses thorium to produce electricity to power a car engine.Thorium is an element similar to uranium and because it is such a dense material it has the potential to produce massive amounts of heat.

 

Laser Power Systems CEO, Charles Stevens, claims just one gram of thorium produces more energy than 28,000 liters of petrol. Mr Stevens says just eight grams of thorium would be enough to power a vehicle for its entire life. According to their website: http://www.laserpowersystems.com/

” With UNLIMITED POWER that is emissions free, and totally green. System sizes from 5 Kw to Megawatts that are cheap to build, safe  to operate and can be used to power homes, business, transportation, cars,  trucks, ships, military equipment, even planes and spacecraft.  Thorium is the best alternative to oil, gas, coal and conventional Nuclear power plants and is the replacement technology internal combustion engines.  The amount of free energy contained in thorium fuel is 20 million times the amount of free energy contained in a similar mass of chemical fuel such as coal, making thorium an ideal source of energy”

How It Works

thorium-fueled reactor 1It is claimed the key to the system is that when silvery metal thorium is heated by an external source, becomes it is so dense its molecules give off considerable heat. Small blocks of thorium generate heat surges that are configured as a thorium-based laser. These create steam from water within mini-turbines, generating electricity to drive a car. Stevens’ prototype systems generate electricity within 30 seconds of firing a laser. This can feed power into a car, without the need for storage.

Editors note: This may be one of many ways to harness the energy into electricity. What is being decribed here is possibly a controlled LENR reaction…..I wonder if they have measure any radioactivity?

A Long Way From Reality

In an interview with Ward’s Auto, he explained small pieces of thorium were used to generate heat and were positioned to create a thorium laser. The lasers heat water to produce steam and power a series of mini-turbines.Mr Stevens said an engine weighing approximately 227kg would be light enough and compact enough to fit under the bonnet of a conventional car.If it were that simple though, petrol would already be a thing of the past.Mr Steven said developing turbines and generators that were usable and portable was much more difficult than making the thorium lasers. “How do you take the laser and put these things together efficiently?” This is the question Mr Stevens and the 40 workers at Laser Power Systems are currently trying to answer.

Scam Watch

There seems to be a lack of data or scientific peer reviewed reports, I will try and get an interview. As I always say..show me the data

The follow was some advice I got from one of our most trusted and qualified advisers Mark Euthanasius

Thorium is a fissile material.  These guys if they were serious would be talking about a fission reactor in an automobile.  Now what kind of fission reactor can fit into an automobile?  Answer:  None.  What kind of fission reactor would ever be approved for mass production and distribution in millions of units?  Answer:  None.

Related Story: http://www.gereports.com/thorium-lasers-the-thoroughly-plausible-idea-for-nuclear-cars/

 

 

  • Ken

    woW!

  • Mark Euthanasius

    They broke the scam-o-meter!!!

    • Mark Dansie

      you will note I said it was more fantasy than fact…..but it good to dream. There is a lot of research on Small Thorium reactors at the moment but I am unaware of any that use heat as the trigger.

  • ngepro

    Sounds like what Rossi predicted 2.5 years ago. Their website is short on facts.

  • Zero

    AS IF GM or any other entrenched American auto maker could make a car that LASTS 1 million miles! Ha, ha, haaaa.

    • Mark Dansie

      Market forces will prevail..have faith Luke the force is with you

  • Mark Dansie

    Until I see data I have elevated this to scam alert. I will try and get an interview

  • alpcns .

    Amazing – but most likely far from reality yet. It is good however to see that people still dream and innovate. Like Mark said, a good read for the weekend.

  • Simon Derricutt

    The underlying physics may indeed be possible, using Thorium as vapour in a laser system. I doubt if they can get a high-enough energy density in the laser to produce the result, though, and the system would need very good mirrors that would be very precisely aligned in order to get the reflections needed. Vibrations such as exist in a car would likely misalign the mirrors too much to keep the Q of the system high enough to work. The resultant energy would be as heat, so the temperature of the laser cavity would vary and the wavelength of the light produced would thus vary, and the mirrors would likely need to be micro-adjusted to compensate – again a difficult thing to do when the whole system is getting bounced around in a car.

    The heat would produce steam and drive a micro-turbine – not dramatically efficient and unless you want to keep filling it with water the closed-cycle would be needed thus reducing efficiency somewhat further. Might reach 30% efficiency from the heat if they are lucky, but more likely 20% overall.

    The website is short on data and long on hype – like Mark E I notice the 8000 researchers stated and discount it, and this colours the way I read the rest and makes me think they are nowhere near having a real system. Lasers are in any case notorious for eating power (about 1% efficient on pumping-power in to light output) so getting the figures for input and output would be useful.

    That 8g of Thorium would drive a 10kW car a million miles if we had 90% efficiency. Go up to the 250-odd kW they state and go down to 20% efficiency and it’s a lot less. Again, therefore, there’s too much hype and no believable figures.

    Overall, although there’s some reality in the possibility, I don’t think that it will come from this company. Just too much waving-away of the difficulties involved and an over-estimation of what they can do.

  • RC Far

    The question begging for an answer to me is, why would you pick a mobile transport application for this technology with all of the variables entailed when, if the tech was even close to solid, you could simply take over the world’s energy needs with a small fixed unit? If you are going to go for fission then Thorium is a better way to go. Still haven’t figured out why the Swedes didn’t go with Thorium on their small nukes for the Navy applications like subs and carriers. Not my area of experience but always interesting to watch just for the theatrics. My daughter’s father-in-law is a nuclear engineer and travels as a troubleshooter to different nuke sites for upgrades and repairs. Would be interesting to get his take on something like this. I would expect a good laugh tho.

    • Mark Dansie

      I think Batman and Robin could be very interested in this

  • Asterix

    I was struck by the website being a scam right off by very little original material–just a lot of linked-to web contact from other sites. Particularly in the case of NASA, I wonder if it’s done with permission…

    • Zero

      Linking to external information does not require permission. This precident has been clearly established. It’s the equivellant of free advertising. Republishing under your own brand does.

      • Asterix

        I’ll readily agree that the issue of linking has been settled legally, but the web site goes a little beyond that in that the content from NASA (and other sites) is presented in a separate frame–that is, it’s not a simple link, but rather appears as if the site owners generated the content. No “courtesy of Joe Blow Industries, etc.”.

        I’m not up on Internet law to know if this is kosher or not–but there’s very little original material on that site. And that smells like a scam to me.

        • Mark Dansie

          You might have noticed I reviewed the article and given it full scam status. I will call them see what they have to say.

  • Ryan Bloom

    I don’t understand the thought process (scam or truly legit idea) of someone stating they are going to release a new vehicle leveraging their new miracle source of power BEFORE they release a commercialized or even prototype version of that new miracle source of power. I actually find it very difficult to form an analogy that equates how asinine that process is.

    Either way, I think they were already beat to it (though Ford thought a little too BIG thinking Uranium) ;)… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Nucleon

  • Uli Kruger

    If a small consumer scale thorium reactor can be developed, I can see one major advantage over a power station scale reactor. It will not require refueling over it’s entire projected lifetime. The thing will be like a disposable battery that needs to go back for recycling. This takes the material handling and refueling related safety issues out of the equation. Since all required components are basically off the shelf, it becomes only an engineering issue before we see one (and the minor problem that a replacement for the current fuel tax will have to be created).

  • Reynolds Jones

    The Chinese announced Thorium reactors two years ago ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/30/china-announces-thorium-reactor-energy-program-obama-still-dwelling-on-sputnik-moments/ ) Thorium is extremely plentiful. I suspect that the method that they are proposing avoids a lot of the danger inherent in having a small nuclear reactor in a car. Of course, as far as Mr. (Dr.?) Euthanasius statement — bull. There was a time when there were no cars and those who didn’t think there should be said that it was a ridiculous idea, likewise planes, faster than sound travel and so forth. I see no reason that this shouldn’t work, and if it does, no reason why it shouldn’t work in a car.

    • Simon Derricutt

      Reynolds Jones – the main thing that I see from their site is that they have a nice idea of what should be possible, but that they haven’t actually made one yet. There’s no mention of measured neutron and gamma flux outside the shielding, and this would be extremely important to you as a driver and sitting so close to a live reactor. Someone who had actually made such a compact and light reactor would be full of figures from lab tests – that sort of stuff is important and can no way reveal any proprietary information as to what’s happening inside. Such a reactor would of course be far more useful to run a home or a factory off-grid, and would earn them far more money and far earlier (by at least 5 years) than the Thorium-powered car, which is way down the list of importance when we look at energy uses. It’s a fairly safe prediction that you won’t be seeing such a product from this group, nice though it would be. This one’s vaporware, but you may well see something from someone else.

  • Andygsept

    Definitely a scam.

    The energy content these guys are citing for Thorium is at least 10 times higher than its actual value,. which is strange as even then this would have been a great prospect, but their scam was exposed by their gross exaggeration.

    Also the lack of any kind of substantial information should raise a few eyebrows.

  • Paul Saunders

    well if Subaru engines can out last a car then this certainly could i was in an old car it even was bondoed so yeah it took 10 mins to start at -40*C but no FORD Or any other car even tractor plugged in could not start but she did. :)

  • sam

    its based on a discovery of one of thoriums isotopes…which can be excited to a higher state at the nuclear level…and stay there…this is different from normal lasers…which are excited outside the nucleas at the elctron level..so the difference is these lasers have energies which are nuclear…ie in the gamma range…if done properly it can be done…however the challenges are..doing it in the first place…
    there isnt enough of the isotope availaible…
    also imagine having gamma sources in cars moving around…not a very safe idea….gamma radiation can kill people in a matter of hours to days…

    • Simon Derricutt

      It sounds like you’re talking about metastable states of the nucleus. The only relatively stable isotope of Thorium is 232Th, and this is 100% (bar a gnat’s whisker) of the Thorium that is mined. All other isotopes have short half-lives and must be manufactured by transmutation (look it up at http://atom.kaeri.re.kr/ton/index.html). It’s worth noting that a laser is inherently a lossy system – you have to pump it with energy first to get the energy out as a coherent beam, and lasers are somewhere between 1-30% efficient (depending on type) in translating that input energy into a laser beam. Although you can use the laser beam for other things, therefore, it’s not an energy source since it costs you a lot more energy to produce it than you get out of it.

      • sam

        your right simon, lasers take a lot more energy than they give out , but the energy source going into the laser doesnt have to be on the car..in a sense a nuclear battery should be possible no? where the energy has been fed in ..and loaded into the car which could a last a lot longer than conventional fuels..
        infact even conventional fules like gasoline have an efficiency of 30-40% in the best cases..

        • Simon Derricutt

          What I think they are intending to imply with their Thorium laser idea is that by using the right energy gammas going in to some Thorium in vapour-phase, they can stimulate the decay and get more energy out than they put in. We’d thus get a high gamma flux and a whole lot of daughter nuclei produced, and the energy output is heat the same as a normal nuclear reactor. You’d then need a steam-turbine or similar to change that heat into electricity which would drive both the lasers and the electric motor to drive the car (may also use the turbine geared to the wheels, but you still need the electricity to run the system). Maximum overall efficiency would be unlikely to exceed 30% (possibly a lot less), and with the necessary shielding and the weight of the turbine this is not going to be a light or compact car – it’s going to use a lot more Thorium than they specify, probably at least 10 times as much.

          Yep, the details are sketchy and the data we have doesn’t match reality closely enough. Enjoy it as a concept, but I don’t think they are anywhere near making it into a reality. Note that it’s implied that you just get in and drive a million miles, not that you have to charge it each time you want to go somewhere.

          The Wiki has a good section on nuclear batteries and how they work. You’ll also find some good data from NASA since their spacecraft run on them when solar power isn’t enough. Look at the amount of nuclear material they use to get a few kW – this won’t be allowed for public use.

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