NOVA PBS

History's Innovative Autos

back | 2 of 9 | next

Nucleon

Nuclear propulsion
The Ford Nucleon concept car symbolized the 1950s Atomic Age, when nuclear energy seemed to offer a clean alternative to traditional fuels. Engineers proposed that the Nucleon (above) would be powered by a small nuclear reactor, which would split atoms to release energy in the form of heat. The heat would convert stored water into steam, and the steam would propel turbine fans to drive the engine. But the envisioned pint-sized reactors Ford was counting on to be developed did not materialize, even as recognition of the inherent danger did. In the end, no working prototypes were built.




Car of the Future homepage | NOVA homepage

NOVAPBS