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Thread: nuclear car

  1. #1 nuclear car 
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    as i understand it, you can generate a good amount of electricity with a device called an rtg... (look it up). they've been using them for deep space missions since the 70's and the technology's been around for longer. you can also use things like strontium that cant be weaponized and they last for decades. so what do you think, is the nuclear car a good idea?


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  3. #2  
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    http://www.qmetrics.com/radioisotope...c_generato.htm
    A typical RTG produces about 230 watts of electricity and will operate unattended for years. It is ideal for interplanetary travel, not only because of its long power-generating life span, but also its compactness. A typical RTG measures 45 inches in height, 18 inches in diameter, and weighs only about 123 pounds.
    230 watts works out to about 1/3 horsepower and I don't think I'd want to drive around with radioactive material under the hood of my car.


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  4. #3  
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    230 watts works out to about 1/3 horsepower and I don't think I'd want to drive around with radioactive material under the hood of my car.
    maybe add a conventional battery that could be charged by the nuclear one? as far as the radioactivity, why not just shield it with some lead? it'd be heavy but its practically free energy after the initial cost of manufacturing it. you'd never need to pump gas, maybe just park for a few hours when the battery starts running low
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by medlakeguy
    maybe add a conventional battery that could be charged by the nuclear one? as far as the radioactivity, why not just shield it with some lead? it'd be heavy but its practically free energy after the initial cost of manufacturing it. you'd never need to pump gas, maybe just park for a few hours when the battery starts running low
    Spoken like someone who has never dealt with radioactivity or radioactive material. To get any useful amount of decay heat, that thing would have to be screaming hot, radiologically. After you have added a few tons of lead for the shielding and some more for the battery, it's not going to have the power to move itself around. And you will still have to deal with possible crashes, and disposal of the used fuel. I think after you added the manufacturing and disposal costs, a lifetime supply of gasoline would look pretty cheap.
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  6. #5  
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    well, plutonium doesn't need much shielding. you could do away with the lead... and it decays almost completely into lead after a century or two right? so disposal shouldn't be a problem. just keep it buried it for a hundred years or so. as far as a crash goes you just have to keep its container sealed well enough and it could be removed pretty easily and recycled/disposed of...

    not impossible, certainly more viable than hydrogen or ethanol
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by medlakeguy
    well, plutonium doesn't need much shielding. you could do away with the lead... and it decays almost completely into lead after a century or two right? so disposal shouldn't be a problem. just keep it buried it for a hundred years or so. as far as a crash goes you just have to keep its container sealed well enough and it could be removed pretty easily and recycled/disposed of...

    not impossible, certainly more viable than hydrogen or ethanol
    Okay, you're right about the shielding of plutonium, which is an alpha emitter. But it's also very dangerous stuff, and the only place to get it is from reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. I'd be very surprised if it ever is used for automobiles.
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  8. #7  
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    lookin at it again, it might be bad for the environment, all those alpha particles have to go somewhere.

    i did hear somewhere that plutonium was used in some pacemakers, i guess if it's safe enough to be in your body its safe enough for a car. might be wrong...
    on the good side, plutonium used for batteries is a different isotope than the kind used for weapons, so no crazy could take their car apart and make a bomb
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  9. #8  
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    so no crazy could take their car apart and make a bomb
    There is also such thing as a dirty nuclear bomb.Did you see this fiction movie where terrorists exploded couple of dirty bombs over
    London and caused great contamination?
    Radioactive particles could be very dangerous
    if inhaled.There is also researches on beta emitting materials such as tritium which proposed to be used in batteries.I guess it will never be allowed because of the same reason.
    There is also couple of interesting nuclear processes such as electron capture,proton capture,auger electrons but non of them is safe enough to use in batteries.If somebody will invent completely safe nuclear process it will be a real breakthrough.
    Antislavery
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  10. #9  
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    Technology has not reach such level till now.
    In one word, not safe.
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  11. #10  
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    http://www.damninteresting.com/the-atomic-automobile
    It was during this honeymoon with nuclear energy– in 1957– that the Ford Motor Company unveiled the most ambitious project in their history: a concept vehicle which had a sleek futuristic look, emitted no harmful vapors, and offered incredible fuel mileage far beyond that of the most efficient cars ever built. This automobile-of-the-future was called the Ford Nucleon, named for its highly unique design feature… a pint-size atomic fission reactor in the trunk.

    Ford’s engineers imagined a world in which full-service recharging stations would one day supplant petroleum fuel stations, where depleted reactors could be swapped out for fresh ones lickety-split. The car’s reactor setup was essentially the same as a nuclear submarine’s, but miniaturized for automobile use. It was designed to use uranium fission to heat a steam generator, rapidly converting stored water into high-pressure steam which could then be used to drive a set of turbines. One steam turbine would provide the torque to propel the car while another would drive an electrical generator. Steam would then be condensed back into water in a cooling loop, and sent back to the steam generator to be reused. Such a closed system would allow the reactor to produce power as long as fissile material remained.

    Using this system, designers anticipated that a typical Nucleon would travel about 5,000 miles per charge. Because the powerplant was an interchangeable component, owners would have the freedom to select a reactor configuration based on their personal needs, ranging anywhere from a souped-up uranium guzzler to a low-torque, high-mileage version. William Ford alongside a 3/8 scale Nucleon modelWilliam Ford alongside a 3/8 scale Nucleon modelAnd without the noisy internal combustion and exhaust of conventional cars, the Nucleon would be relatively quiet, emitting little more than a turbine whine.
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  12. #11  
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    If you aren't into 1950s era nuclear steam tech, people have designed heat-pipe reactors that produce a few hundred kw of electric power and are about the size of a large garbage can. You could probably stick something like that in the trunk and use it to power an electric motor.

    Of course, the safety issues get interesting...
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  13. #12  
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    I'm starting to become interested in these possibilities.

    http://www.nextenergynews.com/news1/...ar-12.17b.html

    http://www.off-grid.net/2008/10/31/m...r-local-power/

    Apparently they use a fuel pellet about the size of an aspirin pill. Of course, these reactors are still way to big for a car, but I'm wondering if the trend of miniaturization might continue?

    Could we build an even smaller reactor, with fuel pellets the size of a grain of sand?
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  14. #13  
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    We already have reactor designs small enough to easily fit in a car and produce enough electricity to power it. They were designed for use in space where size and weight are at a premium. You might google "Los Alamos heat pipe reactor".
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  15. #14  
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    Unfortunately, humans can't be trusted with too much power. Or in this case, too much radioactive material. The car would be a great idea if we didn't have a thing called "free will" and religion. Until those things are taken away, I think we should stay away from nuclear powered personal vehicles.
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  16. #15  
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    It is more likely this nuclear technology will be used to do something like produce hydrogen fuel for many cars rather than sit inside one car and directly power it alone. Hydrogen fuel may not even burn you if you get into an accident.
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