Formula One stands poised on the brink of a new, environmentally-friendly era of hybrid engines and kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS). There is, however, little reason to believe that fuel cells will be able to match the power of the internal combustion engine in the near future. It seems inevitable, then, that Formula 1 cars will become nuclear powered.
Each car will be powered by a small fission reactor, rather like those in nuclear submarines, but lighter and smaller. Whilst some might argue that a nuclear pile in the rear of a 200mph projectile is a recipe for disaster, nothing could be further from the truth. The neutrons emitted by the fission reaction can be absorbed by a material such as boron, and the gamma rays can be absorbed by a shield made from a high atomic number metal, such as tantalum. The only remaining hazard then arises from the fission products in the reactor, and the danger of releasing these products into the environment in the event of a crash. To mitigate against this, nuclear fuel-cycle pit-stops will become necessary: mechanics donned in full protective clothing will remove the fuel cells from the car, insert a new batch, and send the car on its way. The pits and paddock will, of course, need to be decontaminated and decommissioned after every Grand Prix, but this is a small price to pay to infinitesimally reduce global CO2 emissions.
Formula One's Nuclear Future