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Electricity infrastructure in space?

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Tue Feb 01, 2005 9:52 am
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Electricity infrastructure in space? 
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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 14, 2005 8:11 am
"large heavy transmitting and receiving equipment would be needed. Possibly larger and heavier than the power generator." doesn't be a satisfying answer for several reasons:

1. It's required to move all things and equipments to moon, Mars or another planet first that urgently have to be there: habitats for men, robots doing work, radiation shields, telescopes and much more like this. If electricity can be provided by beam then it should be beamed to save the transportation capacities to the planets for habitats, robots, shields etc.

2. The equipment required for beaming electricity can be brought to orbit piece for piece via the "Huckepack"-method (don't remember the english term right now) - together with other payloads. The pieces could be docked together in orbit - it could be an improved version of the way the ISS is to be built by.

3. The technology mustn't be considered stand-alone - it has to be considered under the aspect that it is part of a larger project. The other parts of that project can be forcing the use of beaming technology.

So regardless of the answer I quoted the technology for beaming energy and creating an infrastructure based on this technology is worth the discussion, the development(s) and improvement(s). It should be tried to remove all difficulties and problems as far as possible - challenging and worth the challenge. Transportation is a bottleneck for the first time - beaming can be a way to handle that bottleneck.



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)

EDIT: The microwave-driven sail that can carry a probe to Mars within a month and is under discussed in another thread of this section requires a beam of 60 megawatt. If the equipment to do that would be built really it could be installed in orbit - IN PRINCIPLE - and used to beam electricity as well. This propulsion concept would be a concept of electricity-delivery too.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:26 pm
Wouldn't such a beam in orbit require some means of fixing its position to stop it reacting against the microwaves it was transmitting?

The microwaves being transmitted at the sail would force the orbital beam platform backward, why not attach a crew hab to the platform and use the beam itself as a means of propulsion to get to Mars? This would also solve the problems of slowing down when you get there and focusing the beam on a distant object.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:54 pm
I forget where, but there was mention of the material of the sail being made of something that breaks down under the bombardment of the beam which releases matter that expands away from the surface of the material, thereby providing or aiding acceleration. Is this right?

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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:00 pm
As far as I read it the sail of the vehicle being propelled is very light, has a diameter of 100 m and is painted. Because of this it can be set to motion by the microwave beam.

In comparison the beaming equipment is heavy and is not painted - the diameter I don't remember this moment. The beaming equipment wouldn't be set to relevant motion that easyly I suppose.

Which means that to beam electricity wouldn't set to relevant motion the equipment too.

By the way - the spreading of a electricity beam could be corrected by lenses for example.



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Last edited by Ekkehard Augustin on Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:59 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
Wouldn't such a beam in orbit require some means of fixing its position to stop it reacting against the microwaves it was transmitting?

The microwaves being transmitted at the sail would force the orbital beam platform backward, why not attach a crew hab to the platform and use the beam itself as a means of propulsion to get to Mars? This would also solve the problems of slowing down when you get there and focusing the beam on a distant object.


Woo-hoo! Photonic drive! That's one I came up with a while back.... The basic problem is that you need insane amounts of energy to cause the photons to get you anywhere. Even ion drives use Xenone as a reaction mass simply because it's really heavy. K=0.5*m*v^2. With light, your velocity is high, but the mass is infinitesimally small. A pretty big number (186273mi/hr^2=34697630529mi^2/hr^2) divided by a really really really REALLY small number (the mass of a photon) is still a pretty small number.

Besides all that, you'd fry anything behind you.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:42 pm
When I said “heavy transmitting and receiving equipment” I was really thinking of the 200 meter diameter photocell array that would be required at Mars to catch a laser beam from Earth. A 200 meter diameter photocell array would provide plenty of energy with sunlight alone. No need for the extra expense of a laser transmitting from Earth orbit.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 14, 2005 3:15 pm
The photocell array at Mars would have to be produced there are it would have been to be transported there. The efficiency of the cells would have to be taken into account - the experimental rover that can make photo cells out of the lunar dust and install them will produce photo cells of an efficiency of 1 percent only whereas photo cells produced with earthian equipment and fabrics have an efficiency of 20 percent.

At moon it would have to be considered that it is rotating once within one month - which means that the photo cells to be installed at the surface would be at the night side for several days. They wouldn't produce electricity during that time. So electricity would have to be transported from the day side to the night side then. Via cable? How long will it take to install them? And wouldn't the have to be under the surface to be protected against the charged solar particles? It would be easier to beam the electricity from day side to night side via mirrors and lenses. And this would require to have a large number of photo cell spots on the lunar surface.

For this reason it would be easier to generate the electricity in space at a point where photo cells produced by earthian equipment generate it and beam it to the point at the night side where it is required.

The rotation period of Mars is 24.5 hours only - but still electricity for the night side has to be provided. The same questions as above arise.

But because of the distance at Mars only around half the amount of sunlight is available compared to the moon.

The 200 meter array at Mars could be installed in its orbit if the cells are made with earthian equipment on Earth (having 20 % efficiency then) and the receiving cell arrays could be smaller because of the short distance from surface to orbit.

A mix of martian/lunar 1%-effiency cells with earthian 20%-efficiency cells can be used as well as a mix of beamed electricity with locally produced electricity. Each relay station could add electricity to the beam that it has produced itself - an additional thought only.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 14, 2005 3:28 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
the receiving cell arrays could be smaller

No, they can’t. The minimum diameter is 200 meters because a laser beam from Earth will spread out to 200 meters in diameter at Mars, as I have stated before in this thread.

Now if you are on the Moon, it may work. The array can be much smaller. But not Mars.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Feb 15, 2005 2:40 pm
The array of 200 meters diameter would be that in the martian orbit in the context you are quoting my words out of. The receiving cells I mentioned would be on the Mars itself and the would receive the beam from the array in the orbit. Because of this I have been speaking of the short distance. And this short distance is the reason why the arrays on the martian surface could be smaller.

The 200 meter array in orbit would be a realy station then.

And still the beam from Earth to Mars could go along a few relay stations that are able to store electricity after receiving it from Earth and beaming it further days, weeks or months later. They could move along orbits that are more elliptical than Earth's orbit.

And there is another possibility - to generate electricity in space isn't possible in an earthian orbit only. The generators could be orbiting sun by an orbit having a much closer perihelion than Earth's orbit. This still would require storages - but they seem to be required without the beams too.

And please don't forget - I am thinking about providing electricity at Jupiter, Saturn etc. too this way because it cannot be generated there by the sunlight and radioisotop batteries are running empty as time goes on.

The spreading of beams can be got rid of by a trick to some degree.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Feb 15, 2005 2:47 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
The spreading of beams can be got rid of by a trick to some degree.

Creative accounting perhaps?


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Post    Posted on: Tue Feb 15, 2005 2:56 pm
You seem to be thinking of a sender in the earthian orbit and a receiver at Mars. I several times mentioned relay stations. Instead of relay stations there could be receivers closer to Earth than Mars that receive the beam themselves. At their distances the beam wouldn't have spread up to that degree it would have done at Mars' distance - so their photo cell arrays could be smaller.

These stations that prevent the beam from spreading by a certain degree could add electricity generated by their own photo cells.

And it isn't required - as said in my last post - to generate the electricity for Mars in an orbit around Earth or that far away from sun that Earth is.



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Last edited by Ekkehard Augustin on Wed Feb 16, 2005 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Feb 15, 2005 3:26 pm
Yeah, you're right. The best case would be to build very large arrays much closer to the sun, then beam out huge quantities of energy. But then, if you're close enough to have a temperature differential, then you could employ very large Stirling engines which would generate far far more energy than a solar array could. In fact, I wonder if an array of mirrors in earth orbit, focusing sunlight onto some Stirling engines would be better than solar cells, even now. I suspect that the main reasons against them would be their weight and the fact that there are moving parts inside that could wear out. Does anyone know how efficient Stirling engines are these days?

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 1:20 pm
Get some specs and find out:

http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~khirata/acad ... implee.htm

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 3:25 pm
To add something concerning the receivers closer to Earth than Mars: They would send their own beam which could have the same diameter at its starting point as the diamater was when the beaming process has been initiated at Earth.

This could be applied to the case of generating electricity at distances closer to the sun if required. It may be important to do something like this if electricity is to be sent to Jupiter or Satrun or their moons.

This only is a completion of my last post.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 11, 2005 1:54 pm
Here's a couple of articles from the Space Race Review on the possibility of Luna Solar power being beamed back to Earth. There are some scary numbers concerning the cost and it seems that it may be more difficult to get rid of fossil fuels even if the cost of Luna solar power is almost nothing.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/354/1

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/355/1

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