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Energy generation at the Mars, for the martian rovers etc.

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Fri Feb 25, 2005 2:58 pm
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Energy generation at the Mars, for the martian rovers etc. 
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Post Energy generation at the Mars, for the martian rovers etc.   Posted on: Fri Feb 25, 2005 2:58 pm
Andy Hill wrote in another thread "The use of solar power may be limited due to atmospheric conditions, some dust storms can last months, which would seriously reduce the amount of power available. Other energy sources will be required, even NASA will be using a nuclear power plant on its Mars Science Laboratory (A larger version of the one used on its Viking probes). Not sure whether it would be a good idea to scale this up for a colony or create a full sized nuclear power station though.

I dont know how constant the winds on Mars are but a wind turbine might be a better alternative to a nuclear power station which would have to be fairly large to supply a reasonable sized colony. Geothermal power doesn't look like a goer at the moment as Mars appears to be inactive. So the best bet might be a hibrid solar/wind power station." ( xprizenews.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1105&start=0 )

That's a very interesting topic too I think.

I myself have been thinking about it a while ago and ended up with nano-scale turbines because of the thin atmosphere. My reason was that nanoscale turbines seem to tend to be lighter than those of normal size and that the big ones seem to require heavy materials that could be avoided for the nano-scaled ones.

Instead of one normal-sized turbin millions or billions of nano-scaled turbines could be used - especially for the rovers. They won't require much material because they are that small and microscopic. And they would be easyly set to motion by martian winds I could imagine.

Is that right? Could that be achieved?

Another possibility might be that the movement of dust grains could set trubines to motion.

Clearly - such ideas need to be worked out in detail and may prove to be impossible. But why not think about it?

What ways can you imagine to achieve it? And what ideas else do you have except nuclear power and solar cells?



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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 25, 2005 3:27 pm
If there is enough wind energy on Mars to lift hundreds of tons of dust into its atmosphere there should be enough to turn a turbine. I'm not sure whether it would be necessary to make very small turbines to extract this energy, didn't the viking landers have a spinning instrument for measuring wind speed (sorry cant remember name of apparatus at the moment:-mind gone blank).

In the original context of my suggestion it was to produce power for a future Martian colony and as such there would be people around to service the moving parts if needed.

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Post Re: Energy generation at the Mars, for the martian rovers et   Posted on: Fri Feb 25, 2005 4:05 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Instead of one normal-sized turbin millions or billions of nano-scaled turbines could be used - especially for the rovers. They won't require much material because they are that small and microscopic. And they would be easyly set to motion by martian winds I could imagine.

I don't think so. The thinness of Martian air would only reduce the effectiveness of wind power, whatever the size of the turbines. Also, if very small turbines would work on Mars, then they should work on Earth too. If they do, then why is everyone building only large wind turbines?


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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 25, 2005 4:31 pm
On Earth the winds are more crafty and can move things martian winds cannot move. That's obe reason why that big wind turbines are used at Earth. Another reason is that nan-scale machines and nanotechnology are very young. Producers are not that experienced in the production of nanomachines and not that expereinced in using nanomachines - there hadn't been that requirements for them yet.

Concerning the dust I simply remembered the photos of the dusty Mars rovers. The dust is sinking down since the storms are over. If the areas of the rovers where the dust resembles weren't that parallel to the flat areas of Mars but installed so thta one side is klifted and the other not the dust grains were moving down, This way they could drive nano-scale turbines.

The nanoscale wind-trubines could apply for settlements and colonies too.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 25, 2005 4:37 pm
Earth is dusty too, especially in desert areas of California (look in the background of the SSO takeoff and landing pictures to see all the wind turbines on the hills).

The general rule is that any technology must be made workable on Earth before it can be used in space.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 25, 2005 4:43 pm
I have been thinking of the dust on Earth too - clearly nano-scale turbines driven by dust could be used at Earth too. There simply are other technologies in use already that have been there befor nano-scale turbines. So there simply is no requirement to make use of nano-sclae trubines at Earth.

But they may be produced for use at Mars perhaps in the future in an age when man decides to colonize Mars. Or fot rovers.

Nano-scale wind turbines could be tested in the labs - atmospheres as thin as the martian one can be created easyly.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 25, 2005 4:54 pm
If they work at low pressure, they should work even better at high pressure. And if a microscopic turbine works as well as a large one, then a medium size turbine should work too. Any hobbyist could try building 1 meter or 1 centimeter turbines to see how well they work. I suspect they don't work as well as large turbines. That is why houses don't have a bunch of 1 meter turbines on the roof right now.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 26, 2005 9:45 am
I may have been wrong about Mars being geothermally inactive as the latest results from ESA's Mars express appears to say that its not entirely lifeless.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=s ... lands_mars

Its amazing how this planet keeps giving us more surprises and each one seems to make it more likely that life might still exist there.

Check these excellent pictures out from ESA, makes me think we should go there sooner than the 2030+ dates that are being discussed.

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMX67D3M5E_index_0.html

Anyway back to the original thread, if geothermal activity is going on this might be a much better bet than a wind turbine.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 26, 2005 11:04 am
Peter,

the problem is that large turbines won't work at Mars because the wind doesn't have that power that it has on Earth even if the velocity of the wind is the same as on Earth.

This may restrict wind turbines to small and light versions. And at least many lightweight materials cannot be used for large trubines but for small ones.

Andy Hill,

you are right -it will be very interesting to search for current martian geothermal activities that could be used for electricity generation

All possibilities available on Mars should be researched to develop electricity technologies out of them. To me it seems that wind and dust are directly accessable - so no access-technology is required - this is a point for wind turbines or dust turbines. The efficiency is another point. But until usabe geothermal activity is found we don't have the possibility to compareefficiency.

I would like if all possibilities, ideas, thoughts etc. were be worked out here.

Waht improvments, modifications and so on are possible?



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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 26, 2005 4:25 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
large turbines won't work at Mars because the wind doesn't have that power that it has on Earth

That doesn't explain why small turbines are not used on Earth.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 26, 2005 5:01 pm
They use bigger turbines on Earth because they are more efficient and cheaper. Simple.

I doubt nano-turbines would work, small scale turbulence effects would hamper them, as well as them simply being too inefficient to be worthwhile.

As for turbines working on Mars...I doubt it, or at least not for a while. They are very heavy and expensive to transport all the way to Mars, and I would definitely not be surprised if the wind was not strong enough. Remember, Mars only has a fraction of the Earths gravity, so dust storms are not so hard to create.

The next rovers on Mars are using a thing called RTGs (radioisotope thermoelectric generators), which is actually the type of nuclear power plant that article was talking about. It's not the same thing as a conventional nuclear power station.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 26, 2005 6:34 pm
Peter,

I too - like Sev already explained why small trubines are not used on Earth - they have been there earlier than small and nano-scale ones and are still economically usable, they are more efficient and nanotechnology, microtehnology, miniaturizing technology are quite young yet.

There is a serious explanation by Economics: The ivestments using older technologies still have to earn the depreciations when a younger version of that technologies or a new technology appears. For this reason the younger versions as well the new technologies will be used years after development earliest.

But the reason why nano-scale or small turbines are not in use at Earth isn't of any interest for the question wether they can be used at Mars - Mars and Earth are quite different environments which makes it nearly impossible to conclude from Earth to Mars.

As Sev is arguing - the thin atmosphere with its consequences for the power of the winds makes it quite improbable that turbines of that size that is used on Earth might be working there. As a consequence only small turbines, micro-turbines and nano-scale turbines may be working there. They should be considered - it should be considered how they could be made working. There should be studies on this question and so on.

May be it seems to be impossible to the ones, possible to others and a "don't know" to the thirds. But at least for a permanent Mars station an electricity source must be found that doesn't require permanent transportation from Earth. And if nothing else than something in the range between small turbines and nano-scale turbines will be found then this range of turbines will have to be searched for ways to make them working at Mars.

May be that another source than turbines will be found and made workable quickly - but we don't know. This is sufficient reason to consider small to nanoscale turbines among all technologies that can be thought of to work at Mars.

No idea and no way should be barred because of "don't believe" - who doesn't believe should think about other ways and discuss them here. Who DOES believe in turn should think about turbines and discuss them here too - the both groups shpuldn't debate against each other because that would prevent each progress, each development and each new idea.

Sev is arguing a way that challenges to search for ways he could be convinced by. His argumentation can help the turbine-technology as well as the possibility that he works out his arguments down to extreme details. His post shows points where work should be invested in.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 26, 2005 8:26 pm
My opinion is that the smaller the turbine, the less efficient it is. So small turbines are less efficient and nano-scale turbines are extremely inefficient. I have not taken the time to work out the physics, but that is my feeling. You have not worked out the physics either, but you have a different opinion.

Solar would work, but not as well as on Earth due to the weaker sunlight. Sunlight at Mars is about half strength, but the air is 1/1000 thinner. So solar is still better than wind for that reason. However, I think nuclear is the way to go. This seems to usually be the case in space. That is why science fiction vehicles are always atomic powered.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 26, 2005 9:00 pm
Yes I think your right that Nuclear seems to be the best candidate at the moment, perhaps a small pebble reactor along the lines of the ones China is developing that have been discussed elsewhere on this forum might be the answer.

Have they found any Uranium deposits on Mars or even looked for them? Local Uranium would stop some of the environmental issues with launching from Earth but then again the processing problems on Mars may be to difficult to overcome.

I still think that a wind turbine might have a chance of working as there appears to be enough atmosphere to use a parachute successfully. Perhaps funnelling wind movement over a large area down to a small turbine might work.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Feb 27, 2005 11:20 am
I don't have anything against the use of solar energy, nuclear energy or geothermal energy at Mars - it would be the best way to allow for a mix of all sources of energy that are possible or available.

Peter, I didn't post an opinion about wind turbnies but an opinion about resreaching small ones down to nano-scale ones.Discussions on them should go on - there are people out there who didn't post in this thread yet. Perhaps some day one of them finds a solutiuon for them to be usable at Mars.

The efficiency of small turbines down tioo nano-scale trubines may be less then the efficiency of turbnies of normmal size... - if compared in use within one and the same environment. That's not the point. The points are:

1. A billion of nano-scale turbines in total provides the total of the efficience of these bilion nano-scale turbines. And if nano-scale trubines will be used at Mars then billions of them will be used

2. A billion of nano-scale turbines requires a volume of less than 10^-21 m only A wind turbine of normal size requires several meters. This means that billions of billions of nano-scale turbines would be used.

3. At the flat regions around Hamburg there are around hundred of so-called GROWIANs. This is the short name for "Große Windenergie-Anlage" -could be translated as "Large Wind-Energy Station" perhaps. The Rotors are mounted on Towers around thirty meters high. That's a distance of transportation which isn't required ifor nan-scale turbines - their rotors would be mounted at an altitude of fraction of millimeters only. The billions of billions of nano-scale turbines could be down at the martian ground all together where the atmosphere still is thicker than a meter above the ground - and warmer.

And it would be ISRU whereas nuclear reactors won't be ISRU as long as no Uranium etc. has been found on Mars. And the nuclear power source NASA is speaking of will provide electricity to a robotical rover which needs much less electricity than a permanent manned Mars station, a settlement or a colony. The rover is smaller than ahabitat, doesnt need to heat up a volume of many cubicmeters, liters of water and so on.

These are some reasons to consider all ideas and technologies and to keep wind trubines in consideration. This is an opinion - that's right.



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