Volga-Atom: How in The USSR Created a Car with A Nuclear Reactor – Design You Trust — Design Daily Since 2007

Volga-Atom: How in The USSR Created a Car with A Nuclear Reactor

Up to the Chernobyl accident, the development of the Soviet Nuclear Energy went with confident pace. Nevertheless, many ambitious projects by the Soviet nuclear scientists as a result reject. According to one of the versions, such fate in the 1960s has suffered a six-way car with an atomic engine.


The Soviet inventive thought lagged behind the American, while in 1958 the second secretary of the USSR Embassy in Washington did not see Ford Nucleon at the industrial exhibition. According to a number of sources, the Soviet analogue of the atomic machine began with Nikita Khrushchev’s light hand.

This was engaged in the secret automotive design office, which was headed by the physicist Alexander Kamnev. It was he who designed the main element of the car – a workable forceal nuclear installation. At first, the Kamnev decided to go along the same way as the Americans to take the acting nuclear reactor (the same as on the atom of Lenin) and reduce it to acceptable sizes. When it could not be done, the Kamnev offered a different, fundamentally new engine design. Built in 1965, an experimental sample “Volga-Atom” had engine power in 320 hp The tests in Severomorsk showed that the car was very overheated and badly slowed down. Since Brezhnev did not show interest in further work, the project was turned.


However, all of the above does not have sufficient documentary evidence. Described by some authors, the “four-cylinder engine using the washers from the rich isotope of uranium 235” is frankly fantastically, so, most likely, we are talking about the next myth. The automotive industry of the USSR never belonged to the number of advanced industries, mainly by copying the Western (and not the most advanced) models. In addition, it is not a secret that many developer developers (for example, rockets with nuclear engines) were funded from the knowledge of the Ministry of Defense. Atomic car could not be military use.


However, the nuclear reactor on the wheels in the Soviet Union was still set. Scientists have developed and experienced TEC-3 tracked NPPs and Pamir-630d – mobile plants designed to generate electricity in hard-to-reach areas, for example, in the north. Mobile NPPs waited for different fate. From the first model, customers refused in 1969 due to economic inefficiency, the second model turned out to be “not to the place” after Chernobyl, and it was eliminated.

Ford Nucleon 1957

At the dawn of the nuclear power, scientists and designers of the whole world were inspired by limitless, as it seemed to them, the prospects for using atomic reactors, whose danger then few people thought. If you can place reactors on icebreakers and submarines, then why not do it with other vehicles?

Ford Galaxy Concept 1958

Approximately so reasoned constructors who put forward the ideas of atommies (megapotov), ​​atoms and even atomic tanks. But the concept of an atomic car, first nominated to the United States, seemed the most incredible.

Buick Le-Sabre 1951

In 1958, Ford, known in the invention of the conveyor, presented the Ford Nucleon atomic car layout. An ordinary American family was offered a car, the wheels of which were to be driven through a uranium reactor, steam generator and two steam turbines.

Ford X 2000 1958

However, the method of solving the main task is to reduce to household sizes, the standard S2W submarine reactor – no one came up with. Ford Nucleon remained only a museum exhibit.

Ford Seattle-ite XXI

Currently, inventors return to the idea of ​​an atomic car. In 2009, Engineer Lawrence Kouvene presented the audience concept car Cadillac World Thorium Fuel. This model is positioned as a machine capable of working 100 years without refueling and repair. In a new type nuclear reactor, a thorium is used – radioactive metal, 1 gram of which gives as much energy as 30 thousand liters of gasoline. By the way, in Russia there are many large deposits of Thoria, so that in the XXI century our country remains chances to conquer the market for atomic cars using incl. and Soviet developments. If, of course, ordinary drivers will overcome the fear of the “atomic bomb on wheels.”

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