Advance auto zone blog about fast cars and auto trader

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Ford Nucleon

Ah, the heady innocence of the 1950s. An era when nuclear power wasn't a dirty word that conjured up images of glowing sheep and barren landscapes. Or Wales, as it's better known.

No, the world of the 1950s was all aquiver at the seemingly limitless prospects of atomic energy. From trains to wristwatches, everything was going to be powered by the glorious, clean - and cheap - power of fission.

Ford NucleonIncluding cars. In 1957, Ford came up with this: the Nucleon concept. With a design that looks sleek and futuristic - albeit a trifle weird - even now, the Nucleon was the most ambitious project ever to come out of Ford's development stable.

Ambitious because it was powered by a small nuclear reactor strung between the rear wheels. The setup was, in principle, the same as that of a nuclear submarine - only much smaller. It would use uranium fission to convert water into high-pressure steam, which would drive a set of turbines.

Then the steam would condense back into water, and sent back to the steam generator in a closed system - allowing the reactor to keep producing power for as long as active nuclear material remained.

And when it ran out - after 5,000 miles or so, calculated Ford's engineers - the nuclear reactor would simply be changed at a roadside nuclear station. Which would be common, obviously. Best of all, you could choose a reactor based on your personal needs - efficient and long-lasting or as powerful as, erm, a nuclear explosion.

A nifty theory, but one that never took off. Unsurprisingly, really, because the public's nuclear bubble burst (or rather exploded messily) and the risks of driving bumper-to-bumper with other radioactive cars sank in. And so, predictably, the project was shelved.

But nuclear-powered cars might be back on the agenda. A senior analyst at JP Morgan recently predicted that nuclear-fuelled hydrogen might provide the next generation of cars with power, and several of the oil giants have confirmed their interest in nuclear technologies.

Yes, the worries of safety remain, but Tony Blair has admitted this week that nuclear is going to play a big part in powering Britain's future.

Powering its cars too? Ford's engineers might not nave been so far off the mark.

© Source: topgear
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