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Uranium to fuel cars soon: Scientists

Scientists have discovered a new form of uranium that could lead to a nuclear power plant small enough to fit in your car and eventually even power it. Scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory have created a long-sought molecule known as uranium nitride.

world Updated: Oct 07, 2010 02:46 IST

Scientists have discovered a new form of uranium that could lead to a nuclear power plant small enough to fit in your car and eventually even power it. Scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory have created a long-sought molecule known as uranium nitride.

Besides offering cheaper and safer nuclear fuel, the new molecule could extract more energy from fossil fuels, making cars more fuel-efficient, and could also lead to cheaper drugs.

“Actinide nitrides are candidate nuclear fuels of the future,” Discovery News quoted Jaqueline Kiplinger, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who led the team of researchers on the recent Nature Chemistry paper, as saying.

“But they can also break carbon-hydrogen bonds, which are very strong.”

Uranium nitride rips the hydrogen atoms off a carbon atom — no easy task.

If the two atoms could be split apart without losing all that energy, gasoline could be used much more effectively not only to fuel a car, but also to improve a whole variety of petroleum-related products, from plastics to drugs.

Unfortunately the new molecule is destroyed when it rips hydrogen atoms off a carbon atom.

For uranium nitride to become commercially viable, it would have to knock one hydrogen atom after another and not destroy itself in the process.