What's the Latest?

If cars were powered by thorium, a super-dense energy source far more compact than coal, your mode of transport could last over 100 years between fueling stations. The Laser Power Systems company is now investigating the possibility of using thorium, which is as plentiful in the Earth as lead, as a primary fuel in larger motorized engines. The element is radioactive, and the team of scientists behind the investigation uses bits of it to build a laserbeam that heats water, produces steam, and powers an energy-producing turbine. "A small sample of thorium packs 20 million times more energy than a similarly-sized sample of coal, making it an ideal energy source."

What's the Big Idea?

Current research suggests that an engine powered by thorium would weigh in at about 500 pounds, making it viable for personal and commercial transportation needs. But scientists at LPS aren't expecting to sign a contract with Ford any time soon since, according to CEO Dr. Charles Stevens, the automobile industry is focused on making money off of gas engines. In the mean time, Stevens believes that "a thorium turbine about the size of an air conditioning unit could more provide cheap power for whole restaurants, hotels, office buildings, even small towns in areas of the world without electricity. At some point, thorium could power individual homes."

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