How to make electric cars go further

I figured out a way of making electric cars go further. All they need is a generator on board and – presto – no problems with battery charging. Better still, you can get rid of those heavy batteries altogether and run the electric motors from the juice provided by the generator. That’s even greener – don’t forget that batteries involve exotic chemistry and carry their own environmental impact.

Of course, you’ll tell me this answer’s been obvious ever since the late nineteenth century, it’s how diesel-electric locomotives work. But even diesels produce greenhouses gases. My idea doesn’t use a drop of fossil fuel and it’s years between refuelling. So yeah, genius! You’ve probably guessed what I’m on about. Uranium never runs out of juice – not in the life of a car anyway. So there you have it. Atomic cars, each with their own nuclear reactor. Steam from the reactor drives a turbine, spins a generator, and away goes the car.

It’s got everything going for it – doesn’t burn fossil fuels, no need to refuel, and gets rid of dangerous eco-damaging batteries. Every possible benefit. Of course I’m not the first to think of it. Ford proposed atomic cars in 1957-58, but the tech needed to get their Ford Nucleon – er – rolling wasn’t quite there. Today, of course, I’m sure some enterprising manufacturer could build mini-reactors that fit into an ordinary car.

I can see it all now: hundreds of thousands of atomic cars with everyday drivers at the wheel, belting around crowded roads at speed, all with their own fission reactors maintained at least cost by corner garages. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2021


7 thoughts on “How to make electric cars go further

    1. If it was an either-or between atomic power and coal, I’d go for coal every time – sure, coal ruins the environment, but it doesn’t create dangerously radioactive by-products, including (so far) two wrecked major reactor sites that will remain deadly for tens of thousands of years. The actual answer is ‘neither, let’s find something else’, but given the entrenched interests in both industries and the downstream users of that power, I can’t see a practical shift happening any time soon.

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  1. -giggles- Oh you are an evil man! You really had me going there for a couple of paragraphs! Speaking of the ‘F’ word, I read an article the other day saying that a fusion reaction had been maintained for..grr, memory…a couple of minutes? Not quite ready for the family sedan, but may finally become commercial in my life time. Maybe. If I live to be 100+. 🙂

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    1. The funny part about atomic cars is that they were seriously considered to be a thing in the 1950s, along with ‘atomic chemistry sets’ with real geiger counters and uranium ore. Those actually did get to market. Ouch!

      https://spectrum.ieee.org/fun-and-uranium-for-the-whole-family-in-this-1950s-science-kit

      The answer’s fusion power, but as you say, when that’ll ever become viable en masse is another matter. It’s been ‘about 20 years off’ for most of my lifetime and I can’t help thinking that if a sustained fusion reaction is ever generated, it’ll probably demand ultra-heavy equipment and exotic engineering that (inevitably) carries a huge environmental impact of its own.

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      1. Ouch indeed! Given the fate of Madame Curie /and/ the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you’d think someone might have twigged that radioactivity is a wee bit…dangerous?
        Yeah, I’ve been hearing about fusion for most of my adult life too. I’m not holding my breath. The world definitely needs clean energy but I don’t see it coming from either fission or fusion.
        I mean seriously? We have the biggest fusion engine at the centre of our solar system. And it’s free…

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