What About A Car That Runs 100 Years Without Refueling

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You get the car, then your great-grandkid will refuel it again after a century.

Have you ever heard of thorium? It’s a radioactive-white metallic element that is recovered commercially from monazite. Its longest-lived isotope, the only one that occurs naturally, is Th-232 with a half-life of 14.1 billion years and is used as a nuclear fuel.

Ideally, if your car was powered by thorium, it would never need to refuel for at least a hundred years. But it’s hard to imagine how it is to drive a car that is fueled by thorium, right? Luckily, a company called Laser Power System has created a concept for a thorium-powered car engine. Technically, the team uses bits of thorium to build a laser beam that heats water, produces steam, and powers an energy-producing turbine.

“We are building this to power the rest of the world,” said Dr. Charles Stevens, CEO of Laser Power Systems. He’s passionate with the idea of using a thorium turbine about the size of an air conditioning unit that could provide cheap power for the all the restaurants, hotels, office buildings, or even small towns around the world without electricity. “The radiation that we develop off of one of these things can be shielded by a single sheet of aluminum foil. You will get more radiation from one of those dental X-rays than this.”

The project could take years before you can actually drive a car. But it seems like an interesting project.

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