Controversial stories about energy efficient engines are decades-old. Although we have been long waiting for a car that runs on water, it has yet to come. In the mean time, researchers have been working on new methods of automotive propulsion.
One such design is the thorium-fueled car. Although only a concept at the moment, it could become the choice ride of the future. Thorium is one of the most dense materials found in nature and it has the potential to produce enormous amounts of heat. This is the idea behind Connecticut based company Laser Power Systems’ model for a thorium-fueled engine. The company has successfully used small traces of thorium to power a laser that turns water to steam that powers a tiny turbine. If they could scale up their design into a working engine and fit it into a car, they could revolutionize the automotive industry. In terms of fuel consumption, the company’s CEO, Charles Stevens says the car could theoretically run for one century before it needed a refueling of 8 grams of thorium. One gram of highly energetic thorium yields as much energy as almost 7,400 gallons of gasoline.
At the moment, we don’t have the technology to build such a car. But at the rate with which new metamaterials are created, it’s not that far a dream.