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Can nuclear power save the car industry?

The idea of nuclear-powered cars has never caught on in the past, but does it have a place in our future? Rory Reid looks at nuclear power and the role it could play in the car industry.

When you think about the 1950s, what pops into your head? Rockabilly? A 1955 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV? What about a funky, futuristic-looking car with a nuclear reactor whacked in the back of it?

Ford Nucleon concept car

In the 1950s, Ford came up with the Ford Nucleon concept car. Ford envisioned a future where cars would run on nuclear power using uranium, rather than petrol or diesel, to create a process of nuclear fission.
It may sound bizarre at first, but nuclear submarines work in the exact same way – just on a much larger scale. The nuclear reactor creates the heat which boils the water, turning it into steam. The steam then drives the turbine, charging the batteries which in turn power the motors. The Nucleon would have even used a steam engine powered by uranium fission, just like nuclear-powered submarines were in the day. The Nucleon concept car was set to have a potential range of 5,000 miles without having to recharge. At the end of that 5,000 miles, the reactor would reach the end of its life and could be swapped out for another one. They even planned for different types of reactor that produced different levels of power, meaning you could go for a low-powered car for half a year and then upgrade to a faster one at the end of that reactor's life. Unfortunately for us, Ford didn’t end up turning their concept into a reality, so Free Trader UK can’t offer you a walkaround or test drive. But with the current global attention on the climate and the future of the planet in the balance, the automotive industry is taking another look at nuclear power and its potential role in the future of the car industry. Do you think nuclear-powered cars are the future? Watch our video and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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