Skip to main content

This insane Cadillac concept remains a radioactive, laser-powered dream

Back in 2009, Loren Kulesus – a very imaginative digital designer – came up with a very strange looking concept called the Cadillac World Thorium Fuel Concept. While its exterior dimensions were certainly notable, it’s the stuff that powered it that really made waves – or lasers, rather.

The key energy source is a mildly radioactive metal, and one of the most dense materials known in nature, thorium. The thorium would be used to power a laser, which would then heat water, creating steam that turned a small turbine and propelled the car.

While some laughed at the concept (Top Gear even called it the Cadillac WTF Concept), a few others took Kulesus’ idea quite seriously, specifically Laser Power Systems (LPS) from Connecticut.

LPS has created its own thorium engine, which, according to Industrytrap, weighs around 500 pounds and could power a car for 100 years on only eight grams of thorium, thereby supplanting more than 7,396 gallons of gasoline over a century. And that’s just in one vehicle.

Just like the Cadillac World Thorium Fuel Concept, LPS engine isn’t quite ready for a road trip. The company has reportedly been prepping prototypes since 2011. To our knowledge, however, no actual thorium-powered car has hit the road yet. We reached out to LPS for an update but CEO Dr. Charles Stevens didn’t “have time to comment.”

We’re quite intrigued by the technology, though, so we’ll be sure to stay on top of it. Be sure to check back for updates, albeit every few years.

Editors' Recommendations

Nick Jaynes
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nick Jaynes is the Automotive Editor for Digital Trends. He developed a passion for writing about cars working his way…
Nissan teases 2014 Beijing Motor Show concept
nissan teases 2014 beijing motor show concept teaser

Nissan's road to design redemption continues at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show.
The Japanese carmaker's mainstream models have taken a turn for the boring recently, but the company has unveiled a series of striking concepts to remedy that. Now it has another planned for Beijing.
Since the most important aspect of this car is its styling, Nissan is keeping it under wraps until its scheduled April 20 debut.
However, the company did say that it will be a sedan, and that it will build on Friend-ME concept unveiled at the 2013 Shanghai Motor Show, and the Sports Sedan concept unveiled at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show back in January.
The Sports Sedan was a preview of the next Maxima, but this concept will likely preview a model for the Chinese market. Both production cars should feature similar styling, though, as Nissan tries to create a unified design language that will inspire more than yawns.
That means a futuristic front-end design with the three-piece grille taken from Nissan's production trucks, plus a "floating roof" that is visually separated from the rest of the car by notches at the base of the C-pillars.
These tropes work well on the Friend-ME and Sports Sedan concepts - not to mention the wildly popular IDx concepts from the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show - so there's no reason to believe this latest design won't be attractive.
Nissan is on to something here, so hopefully it will stop building stylish concepts and start building stylish production models soon.
It's strange that the same company that builds the GT-R and Murano CrossCabriolet can make cars as unassuming as the current Sentra or Pathfinder. Yet Nissan has become very good at competently engineering mass-market vehicles, and forgetting to make them interesting.
With competitors like Ford, Hyundai, and Mazda putting an increasing emphasis on style, that strategy may not work for much longer.

Read more
Rumor Roundup: everything you’re dying to know about the new 600-hp Cadillac CTS-V

The Cadillac CTS-V is a truly great car, a stunning combination of muscle car power and sports car handling. However, since the arrival of the excellent new CTS - which stands for Catera Touring Sedan by the way, something that only three people in the world know - in 2014, Cadillac's crown jewel has been in limbo. The CTS-V is based on the previous platform. So like an aging star athlete, it may still have the talent, but it is on its way out. A replacement may not be long in coming, though, and we want to tell you all about it.
What we know
A lot about this car remains up in the air, but we do know some important details. The current CTS-V shares its V8 with the old Corvette, which is a more exciting genetic connection, than its German rivals can boast. Thankfully, that tradition appears to be continuing.
According to a report from Autocar, the new CTS-V will be packing the same 6.2-liter LT4 V8 from the Corvette Z06 supercar ... yeah that's awesome. Sadly, ensuring the CTS-V doesn't eclipse the range-topping 'Vette, the power will be reduced from the blistering 635 horsepower of the Z06 to "just" 600 hp and 600 pound-feet of torque. Even so, that's 25 hp and 100 torques more than a BMW M5 - and close to 50 more torques and ponies than a Mercedes E63 AMG.

Not only that, but based on the relative weights of the current CTS, a CTS-V is likely to weigh as much as 500 fewer pounds than its competitors. That's a significant savings in a performance competition, where ounces and tenths of seconds matter. In fact, it will be our patriotic duty to get on the treadmill before we take the CTS-V up against the Germans, just so we don't spoil all that weight saving.
The good news doesn't stop there, though, because the CTS-V isn't just borrowing a Corvette V8 it is also likely to get the awesome 8L90 eight-speed automatic. We can only hope that the 'Vette's seven-speed manual also shows up on the options list.
What we don't know
Frankly there is a lot that is still unknown, despite the fact that the big Caddy is already in the prototype phase - but a few key things stand out.
While it is clear that the base model will be rear-wheel drive, ensuring lots of tail-out fun and trips to the tire shop, it is unclear if there will be an all-wheel drive option. The current gen CTS comes with optional all-wheel drive. With 600 Corvette-bred horses, it might be nice to have the option of some extra traction to bring them in line. This would also help it compete against the AWD offerings from Audi and Mercedes.

Read more
Forget the Koenigsegg One:1 – this Cadillac CTS-V Coupe has 1,444 rear wheel horsepower

Back in January, we reported that Texas-based tuning company SNL Performance created a 1309-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V. This - at the time - was the most powerful CTS-V in the world. We cleverly (or not) pointed out that 1309 horsepower isn’t just more muscle than a Bugatti Veyron; it’s also 65 Ford Model Ts worth of oomph. It's also more power than the Koenigsegg One:1.
Now SNL has outdone even itself, creating a CTS-V Coupe that has – brace yourself – 1,444 horsepower and 1361 pound-feet of torque at the rear wheels. That's right this newest SNL creation is the latest 'most powerful CTS-V in the world'.
With all that power being sent to the rear tires, we just hope the SNL CTS-V comes with a depleted uranium rear axle. Without one, the car might be undrivable in any real way. To be clear, though, we still would like to try.
Watching the video below, you can see the rear-end of the car tuck in as the revs quickly climb. It almost looks as if the car is trying to eat itself. Even the CTS-V seems uneasy with that much power.
How does the stock 556-hp CTS-V reach into the 1,400 pony range? SNL added a Mast Black Label Head, Wilson intake manifold, twin comp oil-less intercooler, and a Fore triple fuel pump system. I suspect with all these fuel-sucking additions that SNL CTS-V will pump through its 18-gallon fuel tank in around 30 miles.
Sure, SNL’s competitor, Hennessey Performance, is breaking world speed records, but its tuned CTS-V only makes a measly 1,200 horsepower. Plus, who really wants to go 270 mph anyway? I’d much rather do, say, 60-100 in 1.0 seconds.

Read more