EV Energy Source of Tomorrow Thorium?

By Mariella Moon, Tecca

Range is a huge concern for anyone driving an electric vehicle. The fear of running out of juice with no means to recharge is very real as charging stations aren’t exactly common. A zero-emission car technology currently being developed by Connecticut-based company, Laser Power Systems, completely eradicates this concern. In fact, if the technology ever takes off, you might never have to refuel again.

So what is Laser Power Systems’ fuel of choice, exactly? It’s a heavy-metal element called thorium. And according to the company, eight grams of the silvery metal is enough to power a car throughout its lifespan. Included in the set-up needed to run the car is a laser that heats the thorium. The heat surges produced by the element create steam from the water within a mini-turbine, providing the energy needed to run the car.

Thorium

image via Shutterstock

Unfortunately, tapping into thorium as an energy source wouldn’t be easy. The element is plentiful enough — the United States has an estimated reserve of 440,000 tons of thorium. But no large-scale facilities dedicated to mining thorium exist, and it would take a lot of money to establish mining operations. Also, thorium is a nuclear power source like uranium, and that could raise some concerns. It’s worth noting, though, that the element exhibits little radioactivity. So little, that it can be contained easily by something as ordinary as aluminum foil.

While the technology sounds promising, it’s clearly in its infancy and we’re bound to wait for quite some time before we see results. Larger issues like where to get the thorium aside, Laser Power Systems still has to work on a turbine small enough to fit under a car’s hood, but powerful enough to run the vehicle. The company’s CEO wants you to mark your calendars, though — he expects to have a prototype out by 2014. – (Source)

Editor’s Note: This article comes to us as a cross post via our friends over at Tecca. Author credit goes to Mariella Moon.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.

    • Guest

      This is a scam.nnThere is no net energy created by heating thorium with a laser.nSorry.u00a0 nnBest use of thorium is in molten salt reactors that use its nuclear energy to create safer, cheaper, cleaner electric power than any other large scale source.nUnfortunately, even though we successfully demonstrated a thorium reactor in the 60’s, it didn’t produce plutonium for weapons so the more dangerous pressurized water reactors, like the ones in Japan, were built instead.nnIndia and China are going to beat us to reviving this technology because they have lots of thorium ore.nnCheck out the Thorium Energy Alliance to learn more, or search for LFTRs (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors).

      • BlueRock

        LFTRs / thorium nukes are vapourware, a distraction dreamed up by the nuke lobby to distract from what they are actually trying to sell.

    • Michael Griffin

      Wow. Just…wow. The possibilities are endless.

    • BlueRock

      Maybe next week you can cover Steorn’s perpetual motion machine?nnIt’s a scam.