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Old 10-29-2011, 05:41 PM #1
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Default Thorium Laser Cars?

Thorium lasers: The thoroughly plausible idea for nuclear cars | Txchnologist

I didn't fully understand, or read the whole article, but it got me thinking about what lasers could do, and whether we could make a thorium laser (since I have no clue). It also had a nice picture of something that looks almost like a Bugatti Veyron.

I saw thorium rods on Ebay and I seem to recall some people use Tritium, and was wondering if this a similar "well its radioactive, but you can still buy it and use it in laser experiments" material, or more like a "oh look, you have a stock pile of ____ and plutonium and DHS is putting you on a no fly list".

When I was at a community college, we saw people getting into hydrogen power, and they had solar powered hydrogen kits attached to small electric cars. The idea that I could take some semi affordable radioactive metal and make a laser powered super car has awakened my Mad Scientist bug.


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Last edited by shintashi; 10-29-2011 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 10-29-2011, 07:15 PM #2
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Default Re: Thorium Laser Cars?

Meh, what a pointless, vacuous article. Half of the article just talks about things other people want to do with thorium and some boilerplate statistics about how much energy is contained in X grams of matter. The rest is just some guy saying he wants to do something with some thorium laser, and that it's difficult to develop something practical. This might as well be some article about cold fusion.
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:56 PM #3
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Default Re: Thorium Laser Cars?

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Originally Posted by Bionic-Badger View Post
Meh, what a pointless, vacuous article. Half of the article just talks about things other people want to do with thorium and some boilerplate statistics about how much energy is contained in X grams of matter. The rest is just some guy saying he wants to do something with some thorium laser, and that it's difficult to develop something practical. This might as well be some article about cold fusion.
well I guess I'm glad I didn't think too hard on it. What caught my eye was:

Quote:
Charles Stevens, an inventor and entrepreneur, recently revealed that his Massachusetts-based R&D firm, Laser Power Systems (LPS), is working on a turbine/electric generator system that is powered by ďan accelerator-driven thorium-based laser
so, I'm imagining some kind of IR spectrum laser either powered by or activated by thorium - kind of like how gallium nitride or whatever is used for making 405nm diodes, I figured thorium might be some part of the component that efficiently produces large amounts of thermal radiation for the price. The long term effect might then - hypothetically, be a laser powered water boiler-like turbine that has steam as an exhaust. Of course, the article says close to nothing about the process.
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Old 10-30-2011, 02:52 AM #4
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Default Re: Thorium Laser Cars?

I'm not so impressed. Anybody can be "working on" something. I'm sure there are people "working on" cold fusion too. There's no description of the process because he probably hasn't even developed a process.

Maybe LPS can get the Indian government to make some cheesy announcement about how they'll start selling some self-developed, $20 "thorium-laser turbine/electric generators" like their other vaporware announcements.
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Old 10-30-2011, 05:00 PM #5
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Default Re: Thorium Laser Cars?

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Originally Posted by Bionic-Badger View Post
I'm not so impressed. Anybody can be "working on" something. I'm sure there are people "working on" cold fusion too. There's no description of the process because he probably hasn't even developed a process.

Maybe LPS can get the Indian government to make some cheesy announcement about how they'll start selling some self-developed, $20 "thorium-laser turbine/electric generators" like their other vaporware announcements.
when I was in a Steampunk Club in college, we spent a lot of time discussing ways to turn optics into power. One of our officers was a physics-optics major. One of the best ideas we came up with was a series of mirrors on some kind of hand cranked gear system next to something similar to a sun dial/stone henge to refocus the mirrors according to time of day and season. It was basically a scalable solar furnace water boiler. We later figured out the light would scatter in patterns similar to an oval and realized if your target surface is similar in design to the roof of Asian Castles, it wouldn't need to be adjusted as frequently.

It bugs me that people with corporations and media connections sufficient to publish can't even produce a working concept.
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Old 10-30-2011, 07:49 PM #6
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Default Re: Thorium Laser Cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shintashi
whether we could make a thorium laser (since I have no clue)
even if you make a thorium laser... it won't lase only heat up and what will you do with it... foot-warmer ?

the thing about cars being driven with nuclear reactors inside? what about car accidents? BOOOM!

I think this will remain just a concept for some time...

Anyway I like the idea of almost free fuel but no-one will allow this til money rules the world.
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:01 AM #7
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Default Re: Thorium Laser Cars?

I guess its a big mix up of technology and power sources.

Thorium is hardly radioactive, but it can be turned into uranium-233 within a nuclear reactors neutron flux. This in itself is a very promising application that is also very real, the first CANDU type reactors burning thorium are deployed as we speak.

I suppose this is also where the potential for power generation ends. Thorium could be an important nuclear fuel for the future - not because it is easy to use or provides much benefit over uranium, but because it's much more abundant. Since India has large reserves of thorium and a still blooming nuclear industry, i guess we'll see most applications developed there.
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