Could Russian designer's idea be the future of motoring?
Many scientists will tell you that the only way to reliably and sustainably meet the world's energy needs without fossil fuels is nuclear fusion.
Nuclear fusion is the process of fusing atomic nuclei together that powers every star in the universe. It requires only a small amount of fuel, but produces vast quantities of energy. If control of the process can be perfected, it would take only a handful of relatively small fusion power stations to provide more than enough energy for the entire world, without any harmful emissions.
But could fusion be harnessed to power a car? That's what this concept by Russian car designer Grigory Gorin imagines.
It's called the Audi Mesarthim F-Tron Quattro, Mesarthim being a star system in the Aries constellation. And it's hideously complex.
A fusion reactor and the associated plasma injectors are sited in the middle of the car. Packaged around them are the equipment needed to generate steam, using the heat of the reactor, which spins a turbine connected to a generator. The generator charges the batteries located at the front and along the sides of the car, and the batteries, in turn, power the wheel-mounted electric motors. Flywheels help acceleration and power the plasma injectors, while condensers ensure the steam can be reused, making the whole set-up a closed system.
The so-called 'Solid Cage' monocoque chassis is equally advanced. It's 3D-printed from a lightweight metal alloy, supported by polymers. Since the powertrain is so tightly packaged within the chassis, there isn't really any room to carry out maintenance. But that problem is solved by making sections of the chassis detachable. Once finished, the section can be reattached, or you could simply print out another.
Then there's the chassis control system, an MHDS, or Magnetic Hydro-Dynamic System. It uses a flat-bottomed tank mounted in the underside of the car, filled with a magnetic fluid that reacts to the magnetic road surface. The attraction between the two in effect creates downforce. The fluid can also be moved around the chassis to counteract roll and pitch during cornering.
And the F-Tron looks deeply cool; a bit Batmobile-ish.
The sheer complexity and cost of building and running a fusion reactor means it is highly unlikely they will ever be used in cars. But it's entirely possibly small-scale reactors like this could be used to power commercial vehicles, or boats, or even planes.