That's why a company called Laser Power Systems has come up with a concept for a thorium-powered car. The element is radioactive, and the team uses parts of it to build a laser beam that heats water, produces steam, and powers a power-producing turbine.
Thorium is one of the densest materials on the planet. A small sample of it generates 20 million times more energy than a similar size sample of coal, making it an ideal energy source.
Dr. Charles Stevens, CEO of Laser Power Systems, stated that Thorium engines will not be in cars anytime soon.
"Cars are not our main concern," Stevens said. "The automakers don't want to buy them."
He said that too much of the auto industry is focused on making money from gas engines, and it will take at least a couple of decades for Thorium's technology to be used enough in other industries for vehicle manufacturers to start to. Consider overhauling your engines.
"We are building this for the rest of the world," Stevens said. He believes that a Thorium turbine the size of an air conditioning unit could provide cheap power for entire establishments, be it restaurants, hotels, office buildings, even small towns in areas of the world that do not have electricity. At some point, thorium could provide energy to homes.
Stevens understands that people can be wary of Thorium because it is radioactive, but any concerns would be unfounded.
"The radiation outside of one of these things can be shielded by a single sheet of aluminum foil," Stevens said. "You will get more radiation from a dental X-ray machine than from a thorium turbine."