13 Powerful Nuclear Form of Usual Things

During the World War II, the nuclear power was widely abused. Scientist and engineers were keen to extend their power with the help of the indestructible force. Although, most of them were not as successful as they were expected, they show the extent of human imagination and will power towards their nations. Today we introduce the unique list of nuclear forms of normal things.

13. USS Nautilus

USS Nautilus

The USS Nautilus was the world’s first ever operational nuclear-powered submarine. The vessel was authorized in 1951 and was launched in 1954.  It became the first submarine to complete a submerged journey of the North Pole on August 3, 1958. The propulsion, which was nuclear powered, allowed it to remain submerged far longer than any diesel or electric submarines. The submarine has been preserved in Groton, Connecticut, where the vessel receives around 250,000 submarine lovers every year.

Read: 13 Top Secret US Military Intelligence Programs

12. Project Oilsand Nuclear Oil Mining

Project Oilsand Nuclear Oil Mining

The Project Oilsand, originally known as Project Cauldron, was a basically a proposal to exploit the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada. In 1958, the Canadian government was looking to exploit bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands. Dr. Manley Natland, a notable geologist, came up with a possible way to do that. He developed an understanding that an underground nuclear explosion could liberate the bitumen (Asphalt) from the oil sands and will provide a quick and efficient way to extract the mineral.

The heat and pressure created by an underground detonation would boil the bitumen deposits, reducing their viscosity to the point that standard oilfield techniques could be used with ease.

Dr. Natland then discussed the same proposal with the US Atomic Energy Commission, which they agreed and even stated that they would help him with the detonations, which is planned to occur 10 kilometers (6 mi) underground in remote Alberta. However, the Canadian government decided to halt any kind of nuclear explosion, mainly because of possible environmental and security issues.

11. Ford Nucleon Nuclear Car

Ford Nucleon

The Ford Nucleon was a concept car developed by Ford Company in 1958. The design did not include an internal-combustion engine; rather the vehicle was to be powered by a small nuclear reactor situated at the rear of the vehicle. The car was supposed to use uranium powered fission, similar to nuclear submarines. Each Nucleon would have been able to go around 8,000 kilometers (5,000 mi) before its reactor would need to be recharged. But, Instead of refueling the reactor, Ford planned to have stations that would simply swap out an old reactor for a new one.

Conceptually, these recharging stations would have taken the place of standard gas stations. The proposed Ford Nucleon design was inspired by the typical 1950s automobile with car tailfin and clean lines. The mock-up of the car can be viewed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. After a clear evaluation, it was found that it would be dangerous to have nuclear reactors speeding around the cities and highways of the United States, as a result the project grounded.

Read: Cars That Brought the Revolution in Automobile Industry

10. Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter

Jupiter Icy Moons OrbiterImage credit: wikimedia

The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, or simply JIMO was supposed to have a huge number of unprecedented and revolutionary features. The proposed NASA spacecraft was destined to the Jupiter moons specially Europa, the icy natural satellite with the speculation of water. The spacecraft was to be propelled by an ion propulsion system either via the High Power Electric Propulsion or NEXIS engine, and powered by a small fission reactor, providing a thousand times more the electrical output than the conventional radioisotope thermoelectric generator based power systems. It was expected that the JIMO would be able to make further explorations.

Read: 33 Breathtaking Pictures of OuterSpace

Using the electric propulsion would make it easier to penetrate the orbits around the moons of Jupiter, creating more chances of more detailed and prolonged observations. The reactor was entitled to be positioned on the tip of the spacecraft behind a strong shield protecting sensitive spacecraft equipment from solar radiation. The reactor would only be ignited up once the spacecraft was well out of Earth’s orbit, so that the amount of radionuclides is minimized during the launch. Later the NASA executives realized that it was far too expensive; they just abandoned the probe.

9. M-29 Davy Crockett Nuclear Bazooka

M-29 Davy Crockett Nuclear Bazooka

One of the smallest nuclear weapon systems ever, the M-29 Davy Crockett was the tactical nuclear recoilless gun used for firing the M-388 nuclear projectile that was solely deployed by the United States during the Cold War. The device is named after an American soldier, congressman, and folk hero Davy Crockett. Originally, the M-29 could be carried by a group of soldiers to the battle ground and operated by a three-man team.

The modified design was later introduced which enabled it to be carried out on jeeps and other army vehicles. Just imagine, what would have happened if this nuclear bazooka was successful. But unfortunately, or in other’s cases, fortunately the Davy Crockett was not a particularly effective weapon. With a small blast radius and dreadful accuracy, it soon became useless. During the initial testing in Nevada, the shell landed within hundreds of feet of the intended target, an embarrassing moment for a nuclear weapon.

8. Convair NB-36 Nuclear Airplane

Convair NB-36 Nuclear Airplane

The 1950s and 60s are one of the significant chapters in the book of American history. During that time the nuclear warfare started to tighten its grip over conventional or traditional warfare. The Convair B-36 Peacemaker strategic bomber was the first bomber capable of transporting nuclear weapons for the USAF. The plane was big enough to carry a nuclear reactor on board that could still fly, but underwent major changes due to increasing war demands at that time.

The converted B-36 also known as NB-36H had major changes in the cockpit area, although exterior remains largely the same. The NB-36H had completed more than 40 test flights with 215 flight hours between the 1955 and 1957. The USAAF was very careful with the NB-36 even though the plane was not powered with the nuclear reactor. The plane had all kinds of radioactive symbols, and a special hotline connected to the president of the United States to inform him about any proceedings. Despite successful test runs and greater prospects, huge costs and safety concerns lead to the cancellation of the ANP program and shutting down the production of NB-36 aircraft.

7. Project Pluto Nuclear Jet Engines

Project Pluto

On January 1957, the U.S.A.F and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission initiated a combined research study on workability of applying heat from nuclear reactors to ramjet engines. This research was known as the “Project Pluto“. The notion of using a nuclear reactor to heat the air was new. The reactor had to be small and compact enough to fly, but resistant enough to survive a 7,000-mile journey. According to the principle, a nuclear engine could operate for months, so the missile could be left airborne for a prolonged time. A special type of Missiles was assigned for the ramjets called SLAM, for Supersonic Low Altitude Missile. In order to reach ramjet speed, it would be launched from the ground by a conventional rocket boosters.

Read: 10 Worst Space Shuttle Launch Failures

Once it reached cruising altitude and was far away from earth surface, the nuclear reactor can be ignited. The SLAM was proposed to carry a payload of many nuclear weapons that can be dropped on multiple targets, making the cruise missile an invincible unmanned bomber. Later on, the arrival of Intercontinental ballistic missile technology proved to be easier in development and cost friendly, reducing the need for such nuclear cruise missiles. As a result the “Project Pluto” was cancelled on July 1, 1964.

6. SADM and MADM Nuclear Backpacks and Landmines

Nuclear Backpacks and Landmines

This one is our pick of the day. The Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM) was a portable nuclear weapon or simply a nuclear landmine which was developed in the 1960s. The idea was to stop Soviet invasion in Europe.

As a miniature nuclear alternative of other conventional weapons, the US Army Engineers saw it fit to destroy, irradiate and deny key routes of communication for the Soviets. Troops were required to have special training to execute SADM. A Special Forces operator using a SADM device would be expected to be deployed via air behind the enemy lines and use the small nuke to destroy key infrastructure. Operators could also use them in scuba dives.

Another related weapon was the MADM, which was a relatively smaller version of the SADM nuke. SADM and MADM never made it to the battle grounds.

5. Tupolev-TU-95LAL

Tupolev-TU-95LALImage credit: wikimedia

The Tupolev Tu-95LAL was a Russian experimental aircraft similar to the American Convair NB-36. During the Cold War, the USSR was performing an experiment on nuclear aircraft, just like their advisory. The main idea behind the program was, without the need of refueling, a nuclear-powered aircraft would have a much extended range compared to traditional aircraft, and that way it can be used in long range operations.

On 12 August 1955 following the direct order from the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Andrei Tupolev and Vladimir Myasishchev, two of the prime Soviet aerospace design bureaus launched the program with N. D. Kuznetsov and A. M. Lyulka who were assigned to develop the engines. They opted to focus on the direct-cycle system, testing ramjets, jet engines and even turboprops. But, it landed on the same feat as the American NB-36, the arrival of Ballistic missile technology forced the experimental aircraft program to shut close.

4. The Lenin (Nuclear Icebreaker)

LeninImage source: wikimedia

Icebreakers are mostly needed to keep important trade routes open where there either is seasonal or permanent ice conditions. For this reason, major regions of the Baltic Sea, the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway and along the Northern Sea Route need specialized icebreakers to facilitate smooth transportation.

Steam and Diesel powered icebreakers were common at that time, but several limitations such as fuel capacity and longevity created serious problems. Lenin than entered the scene in 1957 (launched in 1959). It was the world’s first nuclear-powered ship and the first ever nuclear-powered civilian vessel. During its initial years Lenin performances over-shadowed its predecessors. From 1960 to 1965 the ship covered over 85,000 miles, of which nearly 65,000 miles were through ice. It was officially decommissioned in 1989, and now it is permanently based at Murmansk.

3. Chrysler TV-8 Nuclear Tank

Chrysler TV-8 Nuclear Tank

The NATO nations had a great amount of fear that the Soviet forces might jeopardize their cold war campaign with the use of tactical nuclear weapons. With this situation before hand, U.S felt the urgency to come up with a long term solution. Chrysler then came up with an experimental concept tank, the TV- 8.

The tank was exclusively designed to withstand any kind of nuclear strike. Due to this, the TV-8 has an unconventional design, the crew, engine and ammunition storage was proposed within a pod-shaped turret mounted above a lightweight chassis that could be separated for air shipment. The turret was completely sealed from the outside world, and it was proposed that the crew would use closed-circuit television to observe their surroundings.

Read: 13 Most Powerful Gunship in the World

Initially the tank was powered by a V-8 engine, but soon Chrysler considered a nuclear fission-powered engine. The design fell out of favor after receiving negative reviews, it was concluded that the TV-8 design did not provide the flexibility needed and did not prove to have significant advantages over conventional tank design.

2. LENR Household Nuclear Reactor

LENR Household Nuclear Reactor

Well, if you are thinking that nuclear power can only be used as a destructive force than may be you should think again. A Chicago based entrepreneur named Lewis Larsen believes that the future of nuclear reactors is in the daily household. In the 1990s, he began to investigate the possibility of using the nuclear energy in small nuclear reactors. A low-energy nuclear reactor or LENR that could power a house with almost no emissions and would be as small as a normal microwave oven. Many critics claim that Larsen’s LENR is suspiciously like the University of Utah’s cold fusion reactor, which ended up being a complete hoax.

However, in 2013, NASA began research into LENR power plants for houses and space planes. During the research, Physicist Joseph Zawodny head of the NASA’s research team did find out the evidences that Larsen’s LENR research is fundamentally different from cold fusion. The research is still in progress.

1. Curiosity Rover

Curiosity RoverImage credit: NASA

Curiosity is a specialized car shaped robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission. It is powered by a radioisotope thermo-electric generator (RTG) which produce electricity from the decay of radioactive isotopes. As of June 10, 2016, Curiosity has been on Mars for 1404 days since first landing, on August 6, 2012.

Read: 25+ Most Amazing Things Found In Space

The Curiosity rover was meant to investigate the Martian climate and geology, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for future human exploration. In 2012, the Project Team was awarded the Robert J. Collier Trophy by the National Aeronautic Association.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is an experienced science and technology journalist interested in machines, AI, and space exploration. He received M.tech degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out what his latest project is, feel free to directly email him at varunkmr09@gmail.com. 

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