Based on the present high rate of fuel consumption, researchers and scientist have come out clearly estimating that the amount of t oil reserves across the world will be depleted between the years 2052 to 2094. Based on this estimation, fossil fuel deposits will be diminished indicating the need to have a shift towards an alternative source of energy that would be used to propel the car engines. The increased number and demand for public and private use that will lead to increased fossil fuel consumption will worsen this situation of environmental pollution. Nuclear propulsion entails a variety of propulsion approaches that simply fulfills the atomic age promise by use of nuclear reaction as the main source of power (Herzog, Eliasson & Kaarstad, 2000, p. 73). This idea of making use of nuclear energy material for propulsion can be traced back to early 20th century.
In the year 1903, research showed that a radioactive material specifically radium can be used as a suitable fuel to propel engines of cars. For years, there have been issues related to environmental concern. Motor vehicles have been related to massive environmental pollution that has attracted the global concern on the way out to solve the issue at hand. The natural gas and oil are depleting at a very high rate demanding the need for the alternative source of energy to propel car engines. According to Wang et al., 2000, p. 937), crude oil in addition to being an expensive source of energy, it is considered one of the global sources of environmental pollution. This has necessitated the need for the concerned authorities to look for an alternative source of energy that will be environmental friendly. Therefore, it is evident that nuclear energy remains the best alternative source of energy to oil since it is found in abundance compared to the currently used fossil fuel. Further, research has pointed out that the available nuclear reserves can be used to generate power for a period more yhan5biion year. The nuclear energy, therefore, can be argued to have the absolute potential to offer a solution to the global transportation and energy crisis.
When focusing on the issues related to functional requirements, there is the need to take into consideration the safety issues that are related to the type of nuclear power source that will be used in the nuclear-powered cars. Further, this concept ill be concerned with the type of radioactive materials that are suitable to be used to replace the fossil fuel energy such as oil. It is important to note that the design of the engine would be unique and different from the current engines of cars that are propelled by the use of fossil fuel. Most of the naturally occurring radioactive materials are cheaper hence, will reduce the cost of transportation. It is evident that the energy density of nuclear energy is very high compared to that of the fossil fuel. It is therefore argued that fossil fuel is a million times more efficient that the fossil fuel. Studies have shown that one pellet of uranium that is one of the radioactive materials and can enable a nuclear-powered car to use energy that would be an equivalent to energy derived from about five hundred liters of crude oil. Therefore, by focusing the natural occurring radioactive material that should be used in the manufacturing of the nuclear-powered car, the content of energy released should be taken into consideration.
For instance, uranium has been found to more effective and can generate a lot of energy that will be used to propel the car engine for a very long time (Eberhard & Tarpenning, 2006, n.p). Therefore, the design of the car engine should be designed in such a way that it will be able to accommodate a specific amount of uranium equivalent to thousands of crude oil. It is thus important that when focusing on the issue of efficiencies, the size of the storage tank for radioactive material to be used to propel the engine for longer miles than crude oil should be smaller. In most occasions, it probable that the size of the vehicle using nuclear power to propel the engine will be smaller than that using crude oil to propel it since the size of the fuel tank is so large, but it would not be necessary for the nuclear-powered car. The nuclear-powered car will therefore be the latest design in the market targeting specific consumers across the world. The sophisticated design will be unique and attractive to meet the requirements and specification of the target consumers.
When analyzing the concept of functional requirement, several factors have to be considered. For instance, the first consideration to be focused on is the need for the radioactive materials that will be used in the nuclear-powered car to occur naturally (Sailor et al., 2000, p. 1177). This implies that the radioactive materials that will be used in the nuclear cars should not be man-made but rather should be found occurring in the natural environment. It is important further that the radioactive materials that will be used in the cars should be found in plenty in its natural occurrence to sustain the motor vehicle industry for a long time when they start being used. It is evident that electrons are capable of producing electricity. Therefore, the requirement to have the radioactive materials that are capable of releasing electrons is vital in the development of nuclear-powered vehicles.
According to Wang et al., (2000, p. 936), the electricity that will be generated by the radioactive materials used in the cars will be put into different uses inside the car. This will be used for lighting of the car’s interior and decorations to make the car more captivating and to look more appealing to the target market. Further, the uranium pellets that will be used in propelling the engine for miles will be used up after some time and the stored electricity from the radioactive material will substitute this. The electricity that would be stored can be used to propel the engine further making the technology, even more, appealing and efficient. The less weight will mean that the generation using the nuclear energy will save on the cost of transportation a great deal since the nuclear energy used in propelling the engine of the car will also generate electricity that will be stored for other purposes (Wang et al., 2000, p. 936).
It is also a requirement that the radioactive materials that will be used to generate nuclear energy to propel car engines should be in a position to generate the huge amount of electrons and energy. This is important because, scientist are after an alternative source of energy to oil; therefore, there is the need that the type of radioactive material that will be used should be in a position to generate huge amount of electrons that will propel the car engine for a very long time in terms of miles to be covered. This should specifically be compared to the amount of energy that s produced by the fossil fuel.
The other consideration that needs to be focused on is the issue related to passengers and the driver’s safety. It is important that the nuclear-powered vehicles should be designed in such a way that all the people inside it would be safe from the effect of the radioactive materials. Radioactive material has been related to various health impact including, nausea, diarrhea, hemorrhage, damage to the central nervous system, intestinal lining’s destruction and hair loss. Further, it has been argued that radioactive materials cause DNA damage hence raising the risk of getting cancer particularly among young children (Sailor et al., 2000, p. 1177). There is thus need to use lead in making the lining of the car using nuclear power. This will ensure that no radioactivity will penetrate to the driver and other passengers in the car. Safety of the passenger is crucial in the technological development of the nuclear-powered car since health is paramount and should be the priority when focusing on the development of the nuclear car. When the car is made safe for all the people inside it, the demand for the new technology will increase further.
There have been studies on how a nuclear-propelled can would look like. For instance, Ford Nucleon is one of the first scale models that were developed in the year 1958 as a concept car on how the design of the nuclear-powered car would look like. For the design of the nuclear car, there is the need to focus critically on the future design of both the outer and inside of the car. This should be developed in the way that the car will be safer taking passengers’ health into consideration. It is evident that the nuclear fuel car will have a unique design and will function differently than the petrol propelled engine cars. Atomic fission reactor that will be stored in the trunk of the vehicle will power the passenger car.
This innovation by Ford Nucleon will be motivated by the efficiency of the nuclear energy in addition to the reduction in the harmful emissions that often characterizes the traditional fossil fuel engines. The engineers who invented the Nucleon’s power system based it after the propulsion of the nuclear marine. The designers of this nuclear car aimed to scale down the technology to be used in cars. The outer of the nuclear powered engine car such as Ford Nucleon had a copper lining. Copper was the most preferred material for the outer part design because it is believed to be the best material in preventing radioactivity penetration (Wang et al., 2000, p. 934). Copper was thus integrated into the car design in developing the outer layer of the car since it is potential in the prevention of radioactive emission. Research has shown that lead is one of the best materials when it comes to the issue of preventing radioactive emissions compared to lead. However, lead has not been widely used since it has been related to the effect of causing engine of the car to knock. Copper, therefore, remains the best material for the development of the outer layer of the car since it can enhance the safety of the engine and can further increase the car’s stability by making the lower parts of the nuclear-powered car heavier.
Further, uranium fission was used for heating the steam generator and in the process converting water into a high-pressure steam. Therefore, the asset of the steam turbines would provide torque in addition to electricity for the particular vessel. Further, in this Ford Nucleon, the reactors that were bused to power the Nucleon were strategically designed in a way that they will be interchangeable (Sailor et al., 2000, p. 1177). This will allow for the replacement of all the depleted reactors after about 5,000 miles. There will also be the customization for a high-torque and a high efficiency, and this will entirely depend on the user. The engine capacity of the nuclear car will also be different in the form of the design and size. This design did not include any form of internal combustion engine. This car will, therefore, be designed in such a way to be powered by the use of a small nuclear reactor found in the rear of the vehicle. This was beads on the long-held assumption that it would be possible by reducing the size.
The car was thus meant to use the steam engine that was to be powered by the use of uranium fusion just like the nuclear submarine work. According to Socolow & Pacala, (2006, p. 51), the nuclear reactor of the Ford Nucleon would use a nuclear reactor that will be paired with a steam engine. Further, there is a prototype of thorium-propelled laser, which can be used, in generating energy that will be enough to power a vehicle. In addition, this engine propelled by nuclear will produce zero-emission. To prevent a chemical reaction, lead can also be used in the outer lining of the car since it is known for preventing occurrence radioactivity. Further, copper prevents the radiation hence making the car safer for all the passengers. Therefore, a combination of both lead and copper will enhance the safety of passengers hence making the vehicle successful in the market. Since this development is new in the market, there would be the need for extensive promotion and advertisement to create awareness of the nuclear-powered car. It is believed that the first cars to be developed will be available in the market at a very high cost since it will be used by a particular target market particularly the celebrities. However, further developments will be carried out introducing different models of the vehicle into the market with varying prices for all range of potential customers.
Comparative study of the previous concept
The idea of using nuclear energy to propel engines has been used widely in various developments for years including, the military submarines, and various aircraft carriers. Ford is one of the organizations in the world that had attempted to develop a nuclear-powered car. The above developments in history were known to make use of uranium atoms to generate energy to propel their engines. The aircraft and submarines have been successful in the use of nuclear power, but this has not been the case with the nuclear cars. Ford was the first to introduce the car model into the market, and this will form that future developments will be based on. It is evident that the cost of the car will be equal if not lower than the cost of the ordinary vehicles in the market (Sailor et al., 2000, p. 1177).
Benefits of Nuclear powered vehicle
The nuclear-powered car has the prospects of transforming the transport sector throughout the world. It is evident that with the increased cases of environmental pollution, there are concerns to protect the environment by reducing the amount of pollution from fossil fuels vehicles. The use of nuclear energy has become a promising area that should be focused on to come up with vehicles that are environmental friendly. It is argued that nuclear power is much superior that the oil, coal and even the natural gas (Sailor et al., 2000, p. 1177). The use of nuclear energy is beneficial since it can generate the significantly huge amount of energy that what can be produced by fossil fuel. It is believed that nuclear power is one of the cleanest forms of energy that the fossil fuel hence will protect the environment form pollution enhancing environmental sustainability.
Fossil fuels are related to the emission of carbon dioxide that is one of the gasses that pollutes the environment risking human life on earth by polluting the air. It has thus been associated with reduced numbers of deaths. Deaths related to air pollution was very high in the current society but with the use of nuclear energy, environmental pollution will be reduced significantly making the world a safer living place for all. Additionally, nuclear energy has a higher power generation in addition to energy density. When focusing on the weight and space, nuclear energy can save a great amount of space and weight since the car will not have to carry the fossil fuel and oil hence it increases the car’s efficiency and the storage capacity.
The car will be smaller than the normal cars hence will occupy a smaller space compared to cars using fossil fuels. The car can be driven hundreds of thousands of miles when using nuclear fuel before having to refuel. This is an area of efficiency with the use of nuclear energy to propel engines. Therefore, it will reduce the cost of transportation that one would have to incur by refueling the car (Sailor et al., 2000, p. 1177).
Disadvantages of nuclear-powered cars
Despite the numerous benefits that have been associated with nuclear power, it is argued that it is not without any flaws. There is the major problem related to the issue of radiation. In the event of poor shielding, there could be a messy end particularly for all the occupants of a nuclear-powered car. Further, it is argued that any form of containment leak of the nuclear would be risky to the environment in terms of massive pollution (Kleeman, Schauer & Cass, 2000, p. 1135). For instance, the practical design flaws that characterized Ford Nucleon prevented it from being developed beyond a concept model. The flaws that were identified include the large size of the nuclear reactor that was to be fit at the car’s trunk in addition to the heavy mass of the radiation-shielding materials. Whenever one mentions the nuclear-powered vehicle, what comes in one’s mind there is the danger of radioactivity.
Radioactivity materials considered one of the greatest threats related to nuclear-powered car hence a threat to security and public health. There was the envisioning of smaller reactors that were aimed at allowing a particular design of nuclear-powered engine to fit strategically in the available combat space. Further, the nucleon was also designed with a passenger cub that was suspended at the car’s front axle for counterbalancing the large mass of the reactor. Therefore, based on the above flaws and difficulty to establish an approach to overcome the identified inefficiency the nuclear power success has proven to be the insurmountable obstacle (Sailor et al., 2000, p. 1177). There has been an argument that the possibility of the car crash has been another area of consideration whether the nuclear-powered cars should be pursued. For instance, there was the Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophe that has ever raised the question of safety on the strength of nuclear power system.
Nuclear energy cars in the future
It is evident that the nuclear-powered engine for the vehicles is still a distant dream based on the flaws that had been identified with its development. The modern technological developments have changed the perception of the nuclear-powered vehicle making the realization of the dream more conceivable. It is evident that there are private companies that have successfully created a small thorium reactors that have been designed to be compact compared to the conventional thermal nuclear power (Kleeman, Schauer & Cass, 2000, p. 1136). Further, in the thorium reactors developed, there is an accelerator driven system that has been designed to produce proton beam by the use of a particle accelerator. This proton beam has been argued to produce numerous neutrons when it is aimed at the thorium resulting to uranium-233 an isotope that tends to release energy in fission. The general electric that is released is thorium fuel concept that was shown at the Chicago Auto show in the year 2011. This thorium fuel included a form of the theoretical thorium-powered engine from a power laser system.
The feasibility assessment will focus on the cost of developing the nuclear power car, the efficiency of the development, environmental concerns, and safety of people. Research has shown that there is a huge reserve of nuclear material sources that can be used for the development of the nuclear powered car. Approximately 12 billion pounds of uranium are available on earth and about 890million of the total nuclear deposits are found in the US. There this will mean that the amount of nuclear energy available in the world is so immense to sustain the development of nuclear-powered cars. This will be enough to be used by all the people across the world for future developments.
According to Zamel & Li, (2006, p. 297), uranium is one of the most commonly source of nuclear energy material that is often used in the nuclear-propelled cars. Uranium is considered a safe source of energy. Therefore, the development of a nuclear-powered car is the energy source that will take into consideration, the environmental concern. It emits very little greenhouse effect hence the best source of energy to be used in this technological development.
Further, lead and copper have used in the outer lining of the cars hence reducing the radioactivity emission. Based on this, the use of nuclear energy cars is very promising since it takes into consideration the environmental and health concerns of the population. Countries should be more rigid in the establishment of laws that will govern the use of radioactive material in the development of nuclear-powered cars. This will ensure that companies manufacturing nuclear cars will take into consideration the environmental concern (Sailor et al., 2000, p. 1177).
Based on the analysis above, the development of the nuclear powered car is one of the technological innovations in the future. The world has shown concern for the increased environmental issues related to pollution from the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have been related to great emission of carbon materials that pollutes the environment by causing green house effect and health related problems. The nature of pollution being experienced in the environment is so immense that researchers have carried out studies to focus on various areas of the source of emission. It was found out that fossil fuel from vehicles contributes the largest amount of carbon dioxide gas to the environment. The alternative to the use of oil is thus the use of nuclear energy that will take into consideration the human health and environmental concerns across the world. The nuclear-powered car is thus the future of the safer world. It will target a particular target market before it spreads to other consumers in the market. Further research should be developed on ways to make nuclear-pored cars without flaws and make them more efficient compared to the fossil fuel cars that are currently used.