You there! Dear reader! Go wipe yourself with a fist full of leaves. No? How about you drill a hole into the side of your head to release the demons when you get a headache? Still no? What’s the matter with you? Oh, I see. When technology progresses and you garner a better understanding of the surrounding world, you get presented with more attractive options to address everyday tasks. So why on earth are you still driving a gas-guzzling metal behemoth? If your answer is even remotely related to “that’s just the way it is because that’s the way it has always been”, then you are doing it wrong.
In 1884, British engineer Edward Butler developed the world’s first petroleum fueled internal combustion engine. To give you an idea of exactly how long ago that was, I will list for you other developments from that year.
1) Construction on the Washington Monument in D.C. is completed.
2) Mark Twain publishes “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.
3) Local anaesthesia is invented by Karl Koller.
As you see, not exactly a recent development. Why then are we still using essentially the same technology now that we did more than 100 years ago? Is it for lack on invention, or could it possibly be the most efficient way to power our vehicles? No, as with any other industry, decisions are made on the financial bottom line. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for a company making an honest dollar. However, when there are industries feverishly suppressing their competition to hinder progress toward cheaper energy, there is nothing honest about it.
I am not going to turn this entire article into a “Big Oil is evil!” piece. There are many points of view to that particular topic, and we could spend years discussing it. What I am here to talk about today is the fact there really are more alternatives that people even know, and they get shoved aside because it is “easier” to follow the normal way of doing things. In this case, “easy” is lazy. Easy is dangerous.
At this point there have been many alternatives to petroleum brought to the public’s attention. Options like hydrogen fuel cells and biofuels. However, there is something different out there. Something so alien and, let’s be frank here for a moment, something so downright cool that it should be brought to everyone’s attention. To sweeten the deal, engineers at Cadillac have already drawn up a virtual prototype of an engine that will use it. I am talking about the World Thorium Fuel concept (Yes, I am aware that the acronym is WTF).
I will leave all of the engineering speak up to people much smarter than me, however the simple version is that there is a thorium-based nuclear reactor in the car. Before you go off and report me to Homeland Security, I want to let you know a few things about the thorium fuel design that the nice people over at Cadillac have in mind. First off, the radiation that the thorium they have in mind is so weak that it could be safely shielded with store bought aluminum foil. Next, unlike other radioactive material you may be more familiar with like uranium and plutonium, thorium is extremely hard to weaponize. Thorium is also much more abundant than other rare earth metals. Since very little thorium is needed per car, there is plenty to go around without making it cost prohibitive.
Now I am going to drop a little education on your faces! The World Thorium Fuel concept engine would work like this: Thorium is excited with a laser (I have always wanted a car with a laser in it). The excited thorium heats up water in an enclosed system. Heated water makes steam. That spins a turbine, which then powers the car’s electrical systems. Engineers at Cadillac estimate that a WTF fueled vehicle could run for approximately 100 years without need for re-fueling. Considering families spend $300 per month on petroleum-based fuel for their cars now, the savings at the pump alone are enough to make most people wonder “what if”.
Listen, I am not saying that we all need to drive around with nuclear reactors in our trunks. I just want to make sure that if you are still driving around a conventional internal combustion engine car, and not exploring your alternatives, it’s not because you think there aren’t any other options out there. The world is a wonderful place filled with highly inventive people. We are living in a time when we can shrug off the yoke of convention easier than ever before, and embrace change. Step into the future with me. It has that new car smell.