Russia's Nuclear Supercar Is 2016's Best Vaporware Yet
The Mesarthim F-Tron Quattro imagines a world in which nuclear energy is safe enough to power our vehicles.
Nuclear power is incredibly efficient and has a relatively low environmental impact. Still, we’re hesitant to use it to power things as small as cars, because, well, nuclear reactors can blow up. Still, even after the worst nuclear disaster in history the Russians aren’t all that concerned with silly concepts like “safety.” Russian car designer Grigori Gorin has unveiled his design for a new state of the art vehicle, which attempts to minimize environmental impact through the use of a hydrogen fusion reactor — literally, a nuclear car.
Nuclear power is cleaner, longer-lasting, and has a higher power and energy density than fossil fuels. The driver of a nuclear-powered vehicle, however, would risk being exposed to toxic amounts of radiation, and any kind of containment leak would be damaging to the surrounding environment as well. The nuclear fusion reactor in Gorin’s Mesarthim F-Tron Quattro, although just a vaporware concept, presents a steadying vision of what we could do if nuclear energy was a lot safer.
The car gets its name from a Mesarthim, a well-known binary star system in the Aries constellation. It’s fitting, as both the car and the stars generate energy through nuclear fusion. Gorin designed the concept with Audi’s product line in mind, which is why the rest of the car’s name follows the Audi nomenclature.
In addition to the proposed nuclear fusion generator, the Mesarthim boasts several other groundbreaking facets to its power structure, including plasma injectors, steam generator, turbines, and condensers. While fusion reactors don’t use radioactive material like plutonium or uranium like today’s nuclear fission reactors they still produce harmful amounts of radiation (quick tip: nuclear fusion occurs when two nuclei combine, nuclear fission occurs when one heavy nucleus is split.) For that reason, usable fusion reactors still don’t exist.
Harnessing an energy reaction that occurs on the sun to power a fancy sports car may seem like a stretch, and, well, it is. Fusion reactors would require a temperature of at least 100 million degrees Celsius — six times hotter than the sun’s core — to carry out the fusion of nuclei here on Earth. But even with plenty left to be accomplished on the nuclear fusion front (let’s be honest, we’re nowhere near it), ambitious projects like the Mesarthim F-Tron Quattro inch us closer to making the otherworldly concept of nuclear fusion an everyday reality on Earth.