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The Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), a prestigious institution under the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), has embarked on an ambitious plan to develop a nuclear-powered engine for ground vehicle applications.

Collaboration likely with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), CVRDE aims to create a compact and lightweight nuclear reactor that can serve as a mobile power source for military applications. While this concept may seem far-fetched, the idea of nuclear-powered ground vehicles has been around for several decades, with recent studies highlighting the potential of thorium-based micro-reactors and atomic batteries as alternatives.

Shrinking a nuclear reactor to a size suitable for automobile applications has long been considered technically challenging, primarily due to the management and safety concerns associated with harnessing the enormous energy output of a nuclear reactor. However, recent advancements in nuclear technology, particularly in utilizing thorium as a fuel source, have reignited interest in compact nuclear reactors. Thorium is less radioactive and more abundant than other nuclear fuels like uranium, making it an attractive choice for potential micro-reactor designs.

In addition to compact nuclear reactors, the concept of “atomic batteries” has gained attention as an alternative solution. Atomic batteries rely on the gradual decay of nuclear isotopes, rather than a chain reaction, to generate a steady and constant supply of electricity. These batteries produce minimal to no waste and can potentially utilize nuclear waste as a fuel source, making them environmentally appealing.

Atomic batteries could be a viable solution for providing a continuous power supply without the need for a large-scale reactor. The use of nuclear waste as fuel further addresses concerns regarding waste management and sustainability.

The development of a nuclear-powered engine for ground vehicles poses significant technical and safety challenges that must be addressed. Ensuring the safe handling, storage, and transportation of nuclear materials is of utmost importance. Additionally, stringent safety measures must be implemented to prevent any accidents or unauthorized use of nuclear-powered vehicles.

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