If you have a car that is powered by Thorium, you would never need to refuel it, because the vehicle would probably burn out long before the chemical did. The Thorium can last for so long, in fact, that it would probably outlive you.
A company called Laser Power Systems has created a concept for a Thorium-powered car engine. Thorium is a radioactive element, and the team uses bits of it to build a laser beam that can heat water, produce steam, and then power an energy-producing turbine.
It’s one of the densest materials on the planet and just a small sample of it packs 20 million times more energy than a similarly-sized sample of coal, and this is what makes Thorium ideal as an energy source.
However, Dr. Charles Stevens, who is the CEO of Laser Power Systems, said that thorium engines won’t be in cars anytime soon. “Cars are not our primary interest,” he said. According to him the automakers don’t want to buy them.
“Too much of the automobile industry is focused on making money off of gas engines. It will take at least a couple decades for this kind of technology to be used enough in other industries that vehicle manufacturers will begin to reconsider the way they think about engines”, Stevens said. He also said that they’re building this to power the rest of the world.
It’s believed that a turbine made from this material, just the size of an air conditioning, could provide cheap power for a whole restaurant, hotel and even small towns in areas of the world without electricity and at some point Thorium could even power individual homes.
Thorium is radioactive and Stevens understands that this is one of the reasons people might be more precocious before using it. But any such worry would be unfounded because the radiation that is developed off of one of these things can be shielded by a single sheet off of aluminum foil.
”You will get more radiation from one of those dental X-rays than this,” Steven said.