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The Atomic Automobile

Article #215 • Written by Alan Bellows

▼ Scroll to Continue ▼

During the 1950s, much of the world was quivering with anticipation over the exciting prospects of nuclear power. Atomic energy promised to churn out clean, safe electricity that would be "too cheap to meter." It seemed that there was no energy problem too large or too small for the mighty atom to tackle during the glorious and modern Atomic Age.

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. And without the noisy internal combustion and exhaust of conventional cars, the Nucleon would be relatively quiet, emitting little more than a turbine whine.

William Ford alongside a 3/8 scale Nucleon model
William Ford alongside a 3/8 scale Nucleon model

The vehicle's aerodynamic styling, one-piece windshield, and dual tail fins (which are absent in some photographs) are reminiscent of spacecraft from 1950s-era science fiction, but some aspects of the Nucleon's unique design were more utilitarian. For instance, its passenger area was situated quite close to the front of the chassis, extending beyond the front axle. This arrangement was meant to distance the passengers from the atomic pile in the rear, and to provide maximum axle support to the heavy equipment and its attendant shielding. Another practical design aspect was the addition of air intakes at the leading edge of the roof and at the base of the roof supports, apparently to be used as part of the reactor's cooling system.

Ford's nuclear automobile embodied the naive optimism of the era. Most people were ignorant of the dangers of the atomic contraption, as well as the risk that every minor fender-bender had the potential to become a radioactive disaster. In fact, the Nucleon concept was often received with great enthusiasm. Some sources even claim that the US government sponsored Ford's atomic car research program.

The Nucleon's silent, sleek, and efficient design was poised to secure its place in the American lifestyle of the future. It seemed inevitable that the internal combustion engine would fade into obscurity, becoming a quaint relic of a pre-atomic past. But the Nucleon's design hinged on the assumption that smaller nuclear reactors would soon be developed, as well as lighter shielding materials. When those innovations failed to appear, the project was scrapped due to conspicuous impracticality; the bulky apparatus and heavy lead shielding didn't allow for a safe and efficient car-sized package. Moreover, as the general public became increasingly aware of the dangers of atomic energy and the problem of nuclear waste, the thought of radioactive atomobiles zipping around town lost much of its appeal. Atoms had broken their promise; the honeymoon was over.

The Ford Nucleon concept car with optional tailfins
The Ford Nucleon concept car with optional tailfins

Ford never produced a working prototype, nevertheless the Nucleon remains an icon of the Atomic Age. In spite of the Nucleon's flaws, its designers deserve a nod for their slapdash ingenuity. Their reckless optimism demonstrates that one shouldn't consider a task impossible just because nobody has tried it yet-- some ideas need to be debunked on their own merit. With today's looming energy crisis and slow migration to alternative fuel sources, we may not have seen the last of the atomic automobile concept. A safe atomic vehicle may not be entirely beyond our reach, as the US Navy has demonstrated with its perfect record of nuclear safety. Perhaps one day fossil fuels will wither under the radioactive glare of the mighty atom, and our highways will hum with the steam turbines of mobile Chernobyls. It could be a real blast.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 27 August 2006. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design by Alan Bellows.
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67 Comments
middlenamefrank
Posted 27 August 2006 at 11:24 pm

As an engineer I'm impressed as hell. Frightened out of my mind, but impressed as hell!


cutterjohn
Posted 28 August 2006 at 12:45 am

Damn interesting, yet again! I had heard of the nuclear powered aircraft, but never of the nuclear powered car. As interesting as it is though, atomic powered cars on the highway would be about the scariest prospect i've ever heard.

Being a former nuclear operator in the US navy, i speak from experience when i say that the perfect safety record of US Navy reactors is no accident.. operators are put through grueling training for 1.5-2 years before they ever get to the fleet, and then undergo constant training, testing, and inspections. Operations are performed by several steps of verification before any actions are undertaken, with detailed instructions for every situation, and always under supervision. Even the reactor designs are engineered to be extremely safe, with or without operator input.

I like nuclear power.. having worked with it before, i know that with proper equipment and a well trained crew it is very safe. But putting a reactor into the hands of any average joe would simply be a recipe for disaster. So i doubt very much they will ever attempt this sort of thing again until a design can be made that is literally idiotproof. I hope for that at least.


PRiME
Posted 28 August 2006 at 12:50 am

Yeah, imagine what would have happened if they made it to the market. Radioactive background feedback anyone? hmmm tasty


Marius
Posted 28 August 2006 at 01:56 am

One of my favorite series is Issac Asimov's Foundation books. Aside from being a Science Fiction classic, it's a fascinating window into the mindset of the early fifties. In his future everything, from huge spaceships to wristwatches, is atomic powered. If one of the greatest, most prescient minds of that time was seduced by the possibilities of the atom, it's no wonder that John and Jane Q. Public were as well. Great story.


Melon Head
Posted 28 August 2006 at 04:46 am

"Perhaps one day fossil fuels will wither under the radioactive glare of the mighty atom, and our highways will hum with the steam turbines of mobile Chernobyls. It could be a real blast."

DI article. Love the closing remarks.
Those old "Science Illustrated" magazines are truly a useful research tool.


stephen gordon
Posted 28 August 2006 at 04:58 am

I suspect that the day will come that our vehicles will be automically powered. It's just that the reactor will be at a nuclear power plant while we charge our plug-in hybrids - electric or air pressure cars - off the nuclear powered electric grid.

Sure, we won't get 5000 miles between fill-ups, but that's a small price to pay not to irradiate ourselves and the entire neighborhood every time there is a fender bender.


HarleyHetz
Posted 28 August 2006 at 05:30 am

I like nuclear power.. having worked with it before, i know that with proper equipment and a well trained crew it is very safe. But putting a reactor into the hands of any average joe would simply be a recipe for disaster. So i doubt very much they will ever attempt this sort of thing again until a design can be made that is literally idiotproof. I hope for that at least."

Like middlenamefrank, I am an engineer, and from experience, I can tell you that no matter how idiot proof you make something, they will always make bigger idiots... :(
DI article Alan, good job!!


djsteiniii
Posted 28 August 2006 at 06:27 am

Has anyone considered large-scale purchase orders from countries such as North Korea, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia? I think the outcome would make a nuclear fender bender seem trivial by comparison.


zslp2
Posted 28 August 2006 at 07:13 am

Very well written and damn interesting.


elifint
Posted 28 August 2006 at 07:42 am

These days, the idea of mass-distributing packages with several pounds of highly radioactive material each is absolutely not going to fly, for a large number of extremely good reasons. It would make the world a much, much worse place to live. You think people smuggling gels onto airplanes is a threat?

The funny thing is that the first thing that some people would think of, the possibility of the reactor exploding like a nuclear bomb, isn't actually physically possible.

Until there's a compact, idiot-proof, neutronless fusion source, it's best to go back to keep this idea on the shelf. Said fusion source might be ready in the next 500 years. Then again, it might not.


sulkykid
Posted 28 August 2006 at 08:10 am

These are cool! Look at the colors! Look at those tail fins! They remind me of Hot Wheels. I would buy one if they produced it with a IC engine.


Oasx
Posted 28 August 2006 at 08:28 am

Kinda funny looking back now and seeing all these insane and scary ideas that seemed perfectly normal at the time


SparkyTWP
Posted 28 August 2006 at 08:41 am

They could make it a lot safer if they used an RTG instead of a fission reactor. It doesn't require near as much shielding and it's impossible for it to explode or go critical. It doesn't provide nearly as much energy, but what you get can easily last 20 years or more. Although if you get into a serious enough accident, you have the equivalent of a dirty bomb.


thermopile
Posted 28 August 2006 at 09:53 am

Unfortunately, RTG's are only about 1% efficient at making energy; the other 99% is waste heat.

Which brings me to another point: heat rejection. For ANY nuclear reactor design, heat rejection is tough, particularly when your operating temperatures are hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit. Don't stand near the exhaust pipe!! It would have been neat to be a fly on the wall when Ford's engineers were kicking this idea about. Unfortunately, history has proven out that nuclear power just doesn't make much sense for reactors below about a megawatt. (research reactors, not designed to produce power, don't apply to this generalization.)

DI article; and here I thought I knew about most pet reactor projects from the 1950's. Learn something new every day...


TeyNur
Posted 28 August 2006 at 12:24 pm

My question is, "What is the smallest practical nuclear reactor buildable?" Could you build a fully contained and SAFE table top sized model that would power a home for 25 years? Should we?


JamesAach
Posted 28 August 2006 at 12:47 pm

There were also atomic trains and a design for an atomic spaceship that used hydrogen bomb blasts to propel it. Nuclear bombs were also seriously considered as a way to speed up earth moving for dam building. It was a simpler time.

I've worked in the nuclear industry for 20 years and have prepared a lay person's description of what it's really like (which is much different than what's portrayed by its media proponents or opponents). To add to the entertainment value, it's in the form of a novel. There's no cost to readers - who seem to like it, judging from their comments on the homepage. See my blog, http://RadDecision.blogspot.com .


fixitdad
Posted 28 August 2006 at 12:48 pm

Imagine a teen aged girl talking on a cell phone and driving one of these!


Xiphias
Posted 28 August 2006 at 12:58 pm

JamesAach said: "There were also atomic trains and a design for an atomic spaceship that used hydrogen bomb blasts to propel it"

Yeah, project orion. It would be very pretty though.


qhperson
Posted 28 August 2006 at 01:10 pm

Imagine a teen-age boy in one of these cars, turning to his buddies (at least 8 of them jammed inside the car) and saying, "Watch this!"

A silent car is a deadly car. If we ever go all-electric, there will be bodies, human and animal, stacked like cordwood on the roadsides.


BarryW
Posted 28 August 2006 at 02:20 pm

They wouldn't really be silent. Much of the noise of a vehicle at highway speeds (Harley's and such excluded) comes from the tires on the road surface and the wind resistance. At low speeds they would be much quieter than IC or hybrid vehicles.


just_dave
Posted 28 August 2006 at 03:19 pm

Steep driveway approaches would be a bane on that front end!


another viewpoint
Posted 28 August 2006 at 03:39 pm

...hmmm, cars that explode upon impact? Now hold on, there may be some value to this after all. Just think of all the traffic jams that could be avoided by self-cleaning accident sites. No more delays from curious rubber-neckers and...you could actually get to where you're going in a reasonable amount of time. THIS DOES HAVE POSSIBILITIES!

Regarding teen-agers and the use of cell phones, don't limit yourself to the teens. There are already too many idiots on the road that just don't get it (in a broad spectrum age group)...hang up and pay attention to the road!


junebee
Posted 28 August 2006 at 05:14 pm

I want one!


detrater
Posted 28 August 2006 at 06:02 pm

It's not the cars that are scary to me, it's the idiots behind the wheel driving the things. Just like being on the road with thousands of little atomic reactors.


Xiphos
Posted 28 August 2006 at 06:36 pm

Gives whole new meaning to the term "car bomb."


openside
Posted 28 August 2006 at 07:21 pm

I reckon we're more likely to see a cyborg taxi resistant cat with an antenna for a tail than cars with mini-me nuke reactors in the boot [trunk]

...but it is nice to look back a few generations and smile fondly upon our slightly retarded predecessors...


bomber991
Posted 28 August 2006 at 09:24 pm

You guys can't forgot, right now we drive around these 3000 pound cars with 16 gallons of good old highly flamable fuel in them. Though in comparison, driving around with some uranium in the back would seem a whole lot worse.


CocaColaMatt
Posted 28 August 2006 at 10:26 pm

Cool car & great idea! But, we would all have to obtain a special license and the nice-looking vehicle would probably have to display an ugly diamond-shaped radioactive placard on all four sides. Doesn't really make for an appealing look and God forbid the car alarm go off.


Illustrator
Posted 28 August 2006 at 10:54 pm

Imagine a typical big city traffic jam
filled with these Hot Wheels coupled
with a multiple of rear-enders.

Great article yet it further demonstates
the naive lunacy of the 1950's. Any decade
that produced McCarthyism could not have
been performing on all cylinders.
Thus rock n roll was born.
And I'm still waiting for Jetson's
flying car.


1c3d0g
Posted 29 August 2006 at 05:33 am

qhperson: that's ridiculous. We all know that girls are the worst drivers this side of the Universe.


mushyp
Posted 29 August 2006 at 05:38 am

"A safe atomic vehicle may not be entirely beyond our reach, as the US Navy has demonstrated with its perfect record of nuclear safety."

I'm not convinced about that claim. What about USS Thresher and USS Scorpion?


pklong
Posted 29 August 2006 at 06:15 am

"A safe atomic vehicle may not be entirely beyond our reach, as the US Navy has demonstrated with its perfect record of nuclear safety. Perhaps one day fossil fuels will wither under the radioactive glare of the mighty atom, and our highways will hum with the steam turbines of mobile Chernobyls. It could be a real blast."

We already have nuclear powered civilian vehicles. They have zero percent chance of a release of radiation in the event of a collision and run at up to 180MPH. The fact they run on rails is neither here nor there.


another viewpoint
Posted 29 August 2006 at 06:45 am

...GREAT SCOTT, ROBIN....TO THE BATMOBILE!


Bryan Lowder
Posted 29 August 2006 at 10:28 am

Richard Feynman got a phone call once insisting he was the inventor of the atomic automobile. As it turned out, the folks at the Manhattan Project would have these brainstorming sessions, and someone would take down all the ideas and issue patents under the names of one or a few guys present. In one session, they were brainstorming about nuclear planes, automobiles, and submarines. Feynman's name ended up on those patents that day. Feynmen himself admitted at the time that the consequences of a nuclear air or auto accident would be horrendous.
Imagine a luxury airliner the size of a cruise ship, keeping itself aloft with a megawatt of nuclear energy...
Nuclear powered civilian vehicles... Do you mean electric trains running on nuclear power?

Make no attempt to contact me. BJL


cutterjohn
Posted 29 August 2006 at 10:49 am

mushyp said: ""A safe atomic vehicle may not be entirely beyond our reach, as the US Navy has demonstrated with its perfect record of nuclear safety."

I'm not convinced about that claim. What about USS Thresher and USS Scorpion?"

The Thresher was lost during sea trials as she attempted to reach test depth. A burst pipe in the engine room shorted out some reactor control circuits, causing an emergency shutdown. After this, when they attempted to blow the ballast tanks, ice formed in the air lines from the high pressure air tanks to the ballast tanks. The ice buildup blocked the lines, preventing the ballast from blowing. The Thresher subsequently dropped below test depth and was lost.

The scorpions loss had nothing to do at all with the reactor, or even engineering. A torpedo activated somehow, and either blew inside of the reactor, or was launched, and being armed, tracked the Scorpion.

Both sites are monitored to this day for signs of release of radioactive materials, of which none has been reported.

As you can see, neither of these losses were caused by a nuclear accident. The Thresher's loss was aided by the automatic shutdown of the reactor, but naval reactors are designed to shutdown that way(i personally probably witnessed 10 or 20 unplanned scrams, and hundreds of planned ones.) in case of bad things happening to control circuits.


mikeybbadd3
Posted 29 August 2006 at 01:47 pm

Yep the navy has an excellent record,, and you just keep believing that one.


another viewpoint
Posted 29 August 2006 at 02:20 pm

...wasn't the Seaview the name of the atomic sub in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea? ...and that was long before the outer space soap opera known as Star Trek.


ynggrsshppr
Posted 29 August 2006 at 07:57 pm

mushyp said: ""A safe atomic vehicle may not be entirely beyond our reach, as the US Navy has demonstrated with its perfect record of nuclear safety."

I'm not convinced about that claim. What about USS Thresher and USS Scorpion?"

Were they accidents involving subs that just happen to be nuclear powered? Or were they accidents because they were nuclear powered? (I.e., a meltdown) Rhetorical question.


Steveinpng
Posted 29 August 2006 at 10:31 pm

Obviously mobile reactors will always be a problem in their current form. I can't help but wonder though what we may have been able to produce if we had spent 90% of the research money on safe power production instead of weapons technology.

Why are we such a self-destructive species?


Kafka
Posted 30 August 2006 at 03:34 am

Nuclear power is safe, as long as an accident or an act of malice never happens. Nuclear powered cars of course, are unsafe as accidents happen. Nuclear powered submarines are substantially safer because only trained, professional people have access to them, ditto with a nuclear power plant. So nuclear power has the potential to be safe.

What really worries me, is that an accident WILL happen. We've seen this in Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl and other near misses. The frequency of an accident is, yes, very rare, but the damage done would be absolutely enormous. Given that, logically, an accident WILL occur, and that we have no way of limiting the damage from a nuclear accident, the RISK of nuclear power is very high. Sure, Japan hasn't had a serious nuclear accident. Can you say with CERTAINTY that they won't in the future? Sure, America hasn't had a very serious accident. I can say for sure that sometime in the future, they will. Maybe we would have developed ways of dealing with radiation by then, but we don't as of now. It's far too risky, even if accidents are rare, the consequences of even ONE accident is far too severe.

This is why nuclear powered cars are unfeasible. Nuclear power should never proliferate beyond a certain point, because alternatives exist, or are being made. They'll never put nuclear power in everyday appliances.


another viewpoint
Posted 30 August 2006 at 05:41 am

Certainty? The only thing that is certain (other than death and taxes) is that there is nothing you can be certain about.

Common sense? The only problem with common sense is that it's not so common!


mushyp
Posted 30 August 2006 at 05:44 am

cutterjohn, ynggrsshppr

I am aware that neither Thresher nor Scorpion were sunk as a consequence of a reactor fault. I do, however, think it's a hefty caveat for the claim that the US Navy has a 100% nuclear safety record.


nutramistic
Posted 30 August 2006 at 10:11 am

What about antimatter powered vehicles?


nutramistic
Posted 30 August 2006 at 10:14 am

Yup. Madd Engineering. Nuclear is a no go.

I am now convinced that the auto industry has to be involved in some kind of conspiracy. There is no other explanation for why 80 year-old technology has not been updated. A very, very slow introduction of fuel efficient vehicles will take place over the course of the next few decades. Let me emphasize slow. Marginally better fuel economy will be the major selling point of each newer vehicle that comes out. Profit is always the bottom line.

Monopolies and oligopolies such as those currently held by the automakers are forms of totalitarian communistic economics (existing within capitalism) that cause capitalism to fail in many arenas. Governmental mandates and regulation can assist, but the government does not represent the people. It suffers the weakness of Democracy (inefficiency), and still does not uphold its ideals.

What the hell am I talking about?

I don't know. I'm just sick of shit not getting done.

Some FYI. If anyone ever tells you that a superior "technology" (I don't consider this true technology) is not feasable or practical because of cost, know that they're full of shit. Any auto-maker has the resources to mass-produce said impractical components that would make their vehicles more efficient. They can even use components that would have multiple applications (I'm being intentionally vauge). This would lower cost for such components, especially if standardized. I wonder if industrial engineers learned any of this in school.

So once more, this is a political battle that has manifested into battles of flesh and blood. We do go to war over the price of oil, do we not? Ideologies? Mostly oil? Yes, we do.

Forget the Arabs. We don't need them. We just need to shake down our wealthy bastards and get our shit done.


cutterjohn
Posted 30 August 2006 at 12:45 pm

mushyp said: "cutterjohn, ynggrsshppr

I am aware that neither Thresher nor Scorpion were sunk as a consequence of a reactor fault. I do, however, think it's a hefty caveat for the claim that the US Navy has a 100% nuclear safety record."

Hmm.. you do have a point in a certain respect. There HAVE been minor accidents.. many thousands of them. Small leaks of reactor water, accidentally spilled samples and such. But these are always spotted and taken care of immediately.

My defination of safety is that nobody has died or suffered serious injury due to naval reactor operations, ionizing radiation, or the release of ionizing radiation/contamination from naval reactors. Obviously there are risks, and accidents do occur, but naval reactors are far safer than anything run by men and women in their early 20s has any right to be, due to the training we recieve and the standards we are held to. Compared to many other jobs in the military or civilian life, working next to a naval reactor is as safe as living in a padded cell.


Drakvil
Posted 30 August 2006 at 03:49 pm

qhperson said: "A silent car is a deadly car. If we ever go all-electric, there will be bodies, human and animal, stacked like cordwood on the roadsides."

There already are. Noise from cars is already so omnipresent you can almost never discern until it is too late that one is barrelling down on you. Cars are deadly - period. What makes them deadly is the speed they are driven at and a small I.Q. on the part of the driver and/or the victim. Since they put a light rail system in Los Angeles they have had 80 people killed by being struck by trains. They make plenty of noise and it's not really hard to guess their path 10 minutes in advance with 100% accuracy. Yet people still think it's cool to walk down heavily travelled train tracks, and plenty of people see an approaching train and still think they can beat it through a crossing - but don't.

I'm thinking the way they developed the chassis for this car with that huge power plant space in the back would be an excellent place to put power storage in the form of flywheels (like these: http://wired.com/wired/archive/8.05/flywheel.html?pg=1&topic=&topic_set= ). Using more modern composite materials to make the car extremely light, it shouldn't be hard for an electric to equal the performance of todays IC sedans without using the oil that bankrolls terrorists.

It wouldn't be hard to put a small noisemaker on electric vehicles that would warn people of approaching cars without reaching the noise pollution levels of current traffic conditions.


fvngvs
Posted 01 September 2006 at 08:54 pm

I'm terribly impressed with the courage of the engineers that worked on this, and other designs. They had a totally new power source to investigate and absolutely no previous examples (good or bad) to copy from; I only wish I'd been around at the time to join in.

OK, so many of these initial designs were (quite rightly) discarded, at least we now know some *really* bad ideas.

As an interesting comparison, do some research on the early days of steam power: a totally new power source and no existing expertise.


Drakvil
Posted 02 September 2006 at 01:00 am

The reactor idea gave me a strange picture about cars... you return home from work and plug your car in. Not to recharge your hybrid vehicle's batteries, but because your car would be the power source for your house.


nutramistic
Posted 05 September 2006 at 10:49 am

If we could harness the power of stupid...


srsnook
Posted 05 September 2006 at 07:41 pm

It would have been neat to be a fly on the wall when Ford's engineers were kicking this idea about. …

I sort of was that fly on the wall, albeit a few decades removed. I knew Alex Tremulis, who drew the design for the Nucleon, as well as the Gyron, and the Seattlelite--which was actually built and exhibitted at the Seattel World's Fair (and was featured in the Elvis movie, "It Happened at the World's Fair." There was very little engineering involved in such concept cars, they were mostly flights of the designers' imaginations, and, at the time, designers were a more exclusive club than the US Senate! Alex also drew up designs for a "space glider" near the end of WWII, when he was at Wright-Patterson AAFB (He had some claim to being the grandfather of Dyna-Soar and great-great-grandfather of the Space Shuttle.) After WWII, he did the design, as opposed to the engineering, for the Tucker--and, if you watch FF Coppola's movie, you will find the words spoken by the movie "Alex" to be exactly how Alex Tremulis told the story to me. Alex was also descibed by Car And Driver as a "walking wind tunnel" because of his long insistance on streamlining as the fundamental design rule of automotive efficiency. Some of the models I saw at his house in the 1970"s could be the basis of many of the more efficient cars you see on the road today. He truly was an innovative thinker, and I learned a great deal from him, just watching and listening. And he was always willing to share what he had learned over many decades in the "streamlining" business.


srsnook
Posted 05 September 2006 at 07:48 pm

Somehow I sort of messed up on my comment: They quote belongs to another, I was the sort of "fly on the wall".


muscle
Posted 07 September 2006 at 10:49 pm

Forget the nuke powerplant. I don't care if it runs on JP-4. Just give me a car the LOOKS like that instead of these "toothpaste tube" clones. I read PopSci and PopMech in the '50s and 60's. I waited for the "car of tomorrow". So where is it?


nutramistic
Posted 20 September 2006 at 11:16 am

LOOK UP AT MY LAST POST. IT RELATES TO CURRENT EVENTS.

Why are gas prices dropping? Has anybody bought the smoke that's being blown up our butts?

We are told that they are dropping because there is not currently an oil shortage. THERE NEVER WAS. We are told that they are dropping because demand is projected to go down in the winter. BULLSHIP!!

Why am I angry about dropping gas prices; that should be a good thing, right? Uh maybe, I hope...

I'm pretty sure we're being jerked around ... again. This temporary price relief will only do a couple things. It will draw attention away from the price gouging that most definetely took place this summer. And, it will draw attention away from the fact that $2 something is still a lot more than we were only just recently paying. Perhaps most important of all, it will draw attention away from the need for automakers to make their vehicles more fuel-efficient. Instead, we've made our consumers income-efficient as they've had to stretch their budgets during the last price hike. Lower gas prices, though still high, will be perceived as low.

Think about it; the new release of production cars is always scheduled to come some time in fall / winter. If gas prices are "strategically" lowered during this time-frame, consumers won't care that there car only gets 30 mpg and automakers will still reap the benefits of doing nothing new - selling us crap. This timeless tradition of proprietary freebees goes back to ... nevermind, I was just trying to sound articulate and junk.

Feel free to read more of my posts elseware in alt. energy and the automotive sections of this site. My other alias is not very tasteful - "tigoldbitty"

Anyway, revolt people, revolt.


Tink
Posted 25 October 2006 at 09:20 pm

another viewpoint said: "…GREAT SCOTT, ROBIN….TO THE BATMOBILE!"

LOL, Yeah, just gotta say, "ZOOM! ZOOM!"


muhoboika
Posted 11 December 2006 at 06:55 pm

That w0uld insane to see a few of those in some major accident on a highway. Today's news: "A 5 kiloton nuclear explosion was caused today in the east part of downtown Los Angeles, while a driver of a blue Ford Nucleon tried to avoid hitting a crossing the road cat, 50000 dead, here is Jeff with the weather. We can expect some heavy radiation showers overnight..."


Bolens
Posted 12 December 2006 at 06:17 am

To avoid the possibility of people stealing such automobiles from their rightful owners, the cars could all come equipped with Mad Max style theft deterrent systems as standard equipment. hehe.


E-hero
Posted 12 March 2007 at 05:54 pm

Couldn't this be viewed as selling atomic bombs to the public, I don't know a ton about physics, but that doesn't sound good.


jtrainor
Posted 03 April 2007 at 06:20 pm

You had me until "mobile Chernobyl", a term only used by agenda-pushers or the uneducated.


Falco Peregrinus
Posted 07 July 2007 at 12:23 pm

It would be pretty awesome if someone made this car but instead of a nuclear heat source it had a b0iler like on a Doble steam car or something. Also, the perfect guy to do something like that would be Jay Leno, because he already has a Doble, the money to do it and likes "unique" cars. Or whoever as long as it was a steam turbine driven car with that body design that runs. Also, i think the boiler on the Doble was natural gas fired so it would be fairly non polluting (not sure on the emissions or fuel for it though).


smw
Posted 28 October 2007 at 06:21 pm

There may not be atomic powered autos in the near future, sad to say, but that's not to say it can't happen. I read an rticle that when the computer came out, the world market was estimated at 5 or 6. That was of the ww2 version and I think my Palm pilot has more computer power than Enniac. We do, however, have atomic vehicles, they're ships at sea, on & under it. I think a locomotive would be a logical step i n the right direction. Smaller, smarter, and self directed to a certain point. just send the golf-cart out on a nasty day for your usual pop/beer run. Credit card already online at the store. And stop flirting with that robot down the street!


Tuckerfan
Posted 18 November 2007 at 11:53 am

Ford wasn't the only company to have a "nuke mobile." Studebaker-Packard had the Astral, which was a single wheeled vehicle with a nuclear powerplant.

Anyone interested in building their own, could probably get everything they need at United Nuclear and The Black Hole of Los Alamos.


a1c
Posted 08 August 2008 at 09:55 pm

Just slip off a toilet and invent the flux capacitor already.


Zardoz-51
Posted 11 June 2009 at 11:40 am

No Comment, At This Time.


Rodger Wrighthead
Posted 26 August 2009 at 03:05 am

Fallout 3-esque.


Alberto R.
Posted 05 December 2013 at 11:45 am

I'd prefer an aneutronic fusion car, please. Don't like steam and turbines, are so last century...
Thank you.


Mark
Posted 12 January 2014 at 05:21 pm

Still possible if the two missing ingredients are discovered - shielding and small reactors. Not out of the question. I believe the mars rover is nuclear.

http://www.about-robots.com/curiosity-rover-nuclear-battery.html

5 kg of Pu-238 and lasts 14 years


ufo
Posted 25 September 2014 at 04:18 am

Quite interesting! Another great idea from 60th. And one of the first projects where people thought about the alternative power sources. The truth is that the mankind still has no good power source which is safe,cheap, compact, independent (at least relatively) and powerful at the same time. Atomic energy could be a perfect replacement for all these anachronistic things we currently use. But there's one issue - it's quite dangerous and nobody knows how to utilize the radioactive waste. However, even nowadays the atomic power is used with the great success. I mean the applications where the problems spoken above are not too important. To wit, the automatic spacecrafts. As the greatest example we can remember Voyagers. Powered by RTGs they are still workable even after 30+ years in space.

P.S.: Sorry for possible mistakes, english is not my native language.


END OF COMMENTS
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