Ford Nucleon Atomic Concept Car

A prototype vehicle  powered by a small nuclear reactor in the rear of the vehicle was modeled by Ford in 1958.  

In the 1950’s atomic energy promised to bring clean, safe electricity and really cheap energy.  During this golden “Atomic Age” the Ford Motor Company unveiled its concept vehicle called the . With a sleek futuristic design the Nucleon offered incredible fuel mileage well beyond the most efficient cars.

A small atomic fission reactor sat in the trunk, much like a miniaturized version of a reactor found in a nuclear submarine. The reactor was to use uranium fission to heat a steam generator, converting water into high-pressure steam which in turn would be used to drive two turbines; a steam turbine to provide the torque to move the car and a second turbine to power an electrical generator.  The steam would be condensed back into water and reused by the steam generator.  A Ford Nucleon would remain powered as long as there was fissile material available.

The Ford Nucleon never made it past the concept stage. The unfortunate impediment to the vehicle was that even the most minor of “bingles” could cause a mini-nuclear explosion. In addition an enormous amount of lead and shielding was needed to keep the DNA of the driver safe making the car impossibly big to be viable. The designers at the time hoped new technology would eventually bring more light weight solutions for radiation shielding.

The Ford Nucleon served as artistic inspiration for vehicles in the Game franchise. Today the mock-up of the Ford Nucleon can be viewed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan USA.


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