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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    Posted on: Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:17 am
Hello, Andy,

I tried to find informations about it satisfying me but am not content yet.

It seems that superconductors may have at least two advantages for Mars - that generator as well as loss-free electricity transmission to keep the required amount of electricity low.

Since I am not satisfied with the informations I found up to now I als looked for news about other aspects, equipemnts etc. I have in mind:

In the same edition of Wirtschaftswoche I talked abou in my previous post there also is an interesting article about accumulators.

The article says that the austrian company Cellstrom has developed a new system to store solar energy. The company has improved the Vanadium-Redox-technology that can store large amounts of electricty at low costs and deliver it very quickly. What the Austrians improved is the property of that technology to discharge itself - this has been tremoved now.

According to the article a battery capable of storing 125 kwh is as large as a container and weighs 10 tons - 125 kwh is the daily consumption of 10 private households which deserves a future comparison to a number quoted much earlier in this thread.

The battery consists of two chambers separated by a membrane. Into those chambers a negative and a positive electrolyte is pumped. Protons pass the membrane and gather in the positive electrolyte. at delivery of electricity the reverse reaction happens.

Regarding the costs the article says that at present plumbum batteries still are cheaper.

The interesting point regarding Mars seems to be the capacity, the capability and that it sounds as if the chambers might be brought to Mars empty. The electrolytes might exist or be produced on Mars as far as the required elements and chemicals exist there.



I also had a random look into the Wirtschaftswoche of 22nd of January 2007. There a longer article about another battery is reporting that a german High Tech-battery powers Apple's iPod nano. That accumulator delivers electricity for the iPod nano eight hours en bloc at least - may be longer. This battery isn't based on electrolytes but on polymeres. It doesn't require a box or anything like that, is flexible, can be produce in each shape and fits into smallest equipments - it is 2 mm flat.

Nanoparticles incorporated into the polymere-matrix increases the capacity by a fifth which prolongs the availability of electricity by a factor of three. It can be reacharged 1000 times and replaces during its lifetime 20 Nickel-Hydride-batteries or 50 Alkaline-bateries. At present it costs 3 - 5 Euros.

In a Mars-colony this may be interesting to provide power pressure suits, oxygen-supply outside habitats and the like.

The battery has been developed by Varta Microbattery, Ellwangen/Germany. May be that I already posted abou this but not that detailed.



The company has also developed a battery for rechargable fuel cells as well as a battery that produces electricity and hydrogen which removes the requirement of seperate tanks to provide hydroen for the fuel cells.



Another innovation that might be intersting for activities in a martian colony outside habitats might be a technology developed by the german company EnOcean. That technology enables to make use of the energy released at pressing a button or stepping on a step of a stair etc.. It is sufficient to replace a small battery. This technology is behind remote sensors and remote switches powered by the force the user presses them by. The movement of the switch is turned into electricity. This technologies enables to turn on a light from a distance of 300 meters - it would be interesting what the according distance on Mars would be. Personally I tend to suppose that it is much larger because the atmosphere is much thinner meaning much less electrical resistance



Finally one article is reporting something interesting about fuel cells themselves. The german submarine U32 dived for two weeks in April 2006 which no submarine using a conventional drive has done. this was enabled by nine fuel cell-modules that produced 1700 kw or more for the electromotor of U32 during the dive. They produce a poer suuming up to 300 kw and consume LOX from tanks and hydrogen bound in hybrid storages.





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Post    Posted on: Sun Jul 13, 2008 1:37 pm
It seems that super conductor technology has not progressed to a point where the ambient temperatures on Mars would be cold enough to achieve it without extra refrigeration yet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-tempe ... nductivity

Although there appears to be some hope that temperatures will increase in the future, currently the highest temperature claimed for it to work at is 185k (-88 degrees C).

It may be that Mars' temperatures are low enough that the extra energy required to cool the super conductor down is not prohibitive.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:25 pm
Hello, Andy,

regarding the cooling of the superconductors I was thinking a bit. If I'm right the super conductors would be cooled down to the required temperatures very quickly if Mars had no atmosphere and no warm core and if the martian night would be sufficiently long. The super conductors need to be well isolated aginst the martian atmosphere by a vacuum chamber the walls of which should be made of a material that only irradiates very low amounts of heat. The conductors should have very few contacts to the ground and never should be exposed to light which may be achieved by installing them subterranean. What is the maximum altitude a stable vacuum tower might be built to on Mars? Such a tower - if possible - might increase the amount of thermal energy radiated into space by reducing the amount of CO2 absorbing such energy. But I am still pondering and wondering about it.



Under www.wissenschaft.de there was an article last week reporting about a new solar cell technology. Solar light passes a layered glas and is directed to the sides of it by multiple reflection. Concentrated it impacts narrow solar cells there turning the concentrated light into electricity. Since a portion of the light passes the glas entirely, additional conventional solar cells might turn that remainder into electricity also. The efficiency/performance achieved up to now is 14%. Other concentrator cells apply lenses and mirrors concentrating the light onto the solar cell which is heated very much that way and thus needs to be cooled down.

The substrate of glas is one millimeter thick. On that glas a layer of paint is vapored that is six micrometers thin. The layer absorbs certain frequences of light and immeditátly emits it again to all possible directions. Light passing vertically can't be used while beginning at a certain angle light is imprisoned within the glas and concentrated to the sides where electricity is generated. By such a glas-paint-element an efficiency of 6% is got. Next another glas layered by another paint is added behind the first one which increased the efficiency by a few percent and used other frequencies than the first one. The highest efficiency was got when a conventional Thin-Layer solar cell was placed behing a single Glas-Paint-element - the efficiency was 14.5% then.

The new croncentrator cells are cheap regarding production according to the scientists. But in particular it is unneccessary to adjust them to the position of the sun since the paint-molecules keep the light eithin the glas via the absorptions and emissions - independently of the direction the light comes from.

The scientists already founded a small company to improve the paint-concentrator-cells and offer the at the market.

The article refers to Marc Baldo, MIT Cambridge et al. Science, vol. 321, page 226 ( www.sciencemag.org/ ).



Obviously the innovation can avoid motors to adjust the cells and elements to the direction of the sun. So this is a chance to reduce the required amount of energy - and it would be an amount consumed only to generate electricity which means that is overhead consumption. And much less cooling is required - if at all. Of course this looks to be irrelevant on Mars because of the extremely low temperatures there but concentrated sublight will cause heat there as well as on Earth. In so far the innovation looks to be very interesting.

More yet - once matured this innovation may mean that rovers like Spirit and Opportunity won't need to be placed on sloped locations to get sufficient light in the martian winter.



What about it?



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Post    Posted on: Sat Jul 26, 2008 3:44 pm
May be that another experience regarding the capability to survive by solar cells might be got.

According to the article "Mars Lander Team Applies for Mission Extension" ( www.space.com/missionlaunches/080723-ph ... nsion.html ):
Quote:
In November, Mars dips behind the sun and out of our view, but will eventually re-emerge. "Hopefully we'll still be alive after that," Arvidson said of Phoenix...
.

But of course the article also says that Phoenix will dy - also because of precipitation of CO2 in the martian winter.

This just this moment makes me wonder what the greenhouse effect of dry ice may be - might it be larger than that of gaseous CO2? If yes then it might positive for the required amount of electricity in winter - this amount might be less than to be expected at gaseous CO2. This may be interesting for habitats.

...
...
...



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Post    Posted on: Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:22 am
In between there was an article under www.welt.de telling that in Spain a solar power plant is going to be built and to deliver electricity in September the first time. 100% performance will be achieved in 2010 - and will provide electricity to 600,000 people.

This number is essential and nteresting for this thread and for ideas about human colonies on Mars since Mars gets 0.444... the amount of solar energy Earth gets. This might mean that on Mars the same power plant would deliver electricity for 266.666 people. This number will be too high yet because electricity will be consumed for purposes not required on Earth:

    repulsion of particles of the solar wind
    heating habitats
    industrial needs supporting the existence of the colony that would be powered by oil on Earth
    liquifying water and keeping it liquid
    ...


That power plant is the largest of the world and will deliver 150 mw of electricity. The company constructing and building the power plant is Solar Millenium, Erlangen/Germany. It consists of parabolic channel mirrors 12 m long and 5 m wide that are made of 366 elements coated by a thin layer of silver. 94% of the sunlight is focussed on the focus line in the center. The mirrors are from the company Flabeg, Furth am Wald/Germany. 12 of them are in a row and when the power plant is finished there will be 624 such rows covering an area of 200 socker-fields. The sunlight will be intensified by a factor of 80 in the focus at the center and heat a thermo-oil to 400° C in an absorber pipe. The oil heats water to get water steam driving a generator.

The interesting point here is that this will work and occur at night as well - the area of the mirrors is made a bit larger to get a surplus of warmth that will be stored in salt storages. There are two tanks of 28,500 tons of molten Potassium-Sodium-Nitrate. This molten salt can deliver warmth and thus electricity at night for 7.5 hours.

This information confirms to me how salts are applied as storages of energy. Obviously this way solar energy can be stored for use at night.

The costs are by 20% less than at conventional Solarthermy. The investment for the first part - enabling 50 mw of electricity - is Euros 250 mio. The expected and aimed at efficiency is 43%.

The rows will be permanently adjusted to the sun - even when it is hidden behind clouds. A computer calculates where the sun is and thus enables adjustment.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Aug 09, 2008 10:44 am
On Monday there was an article under www.welt.de reporting about a freighter built and constructed by the company Lindenau in Kiel (Germany). It's 130 m long and propelled by wind. The aspect that seems to be interesting for this thread to me is that there are no sails but four cylinders of 25 m height. The technology has been invented by Anton Flettner in the 1920ies. Sidewinds are passing the rotating cylinder so that low pressure is genearted in front of the cylinders - this so-called Magnus-effect pulls the ship forward. As I understand it the cylinders rotate parallel to the sea level and thus different to the wind turbines called GROWIAN here in Germany. I am wondering if and how electricity might be generated this way since it might be easier than by small and light other wind turbines on Mars. Might be that a circular ring can be pulled or something similar.

Regarding the possibility that martian perchlorate has been found - "Scientists Set Record Straight on Martian Salt Find" ( www.space.com/scienceastronomy/080805-p ... pdate.html ) - it would be interesting if that salt might be used to store solar power to provide electricity at night. If yes then ISRU might be applied to avoidtransports of such storages from Earth.

An article of Wirtschaftswoche of last Monday tells about something that might be considered as an enhancement of the technology to capture light within a plate of glass.According to that article the technology might be applied in windows. The scientist Marc Baldo is quoted indirectly to have said that the factor of concentration is more than 40 and the efficiency is increased by 50%. The small company founded is Covalent Solar and the new cells are intended to be fit for the market within three years.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:52 am
www.welt.de was reporting several days ago that the 6831 Lithium-Ion-Accumulators are indeed working well in the Tesal Roadster I alread talked about in this thread because of those accumulators.

A 90-minute-test by "Die Welt" reduced the distance or the time until the next required recharging by 17% only. So "Die Welt" could have continued to do like during those 90 minutes for 7.5 to 9 hours. And because the accumulators powered a car to go on earthian roads I suppose that the power would be consumed at a significantly smaller rate on Mars - the gravity is smaller there and I do not have in mind powering heavy cars like the earthian ones there.

The efficiency is listed to be 87% www.welt.de is reporting - they also say that there are critics that energy losses in the power plant and the requirment to change the voltage along the wire to the power connection of the car reduce the efficiency to down to 15%. But this I understand to regard the car - but not the accumulators themselves.

The Tesla Roadster has a distance capacity of 365 km and the accumulators can be recharged within 5 to 10 hours at 220 V or within 3 hours at a power connection.

The lifetime of the accumulators is quoted to be 160,000 km . which would have to be translated into hours or days and for other purposes than powering a car - as there are radiation shielding, electrolysis, microwaves (to melt martian water), computers, light etc.

Regarding light another article under www.welt.de was reporting a few days ago that at the Technical University Darmstadt (Germany) Professor Tran Quoc Khanh is developing LED for road lights. Their lifetime is said to be 14 years in average and they may become available in the nearby - perhaps very nearby - future.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Sep 13, 2008 1:28 pm
Regarding the amount of energy required there was an article in Wirtschaftswoche, edition 18th of August this year, about a very small PC consuming 2 Watts only - compared to conventional PCs consuming 100 Watts to 500 Watts. The Operating System is Linux, frequence 400 MHz, weight 300 gramms, 256 MB main storage, 4 GB HDD but no local storage - programms and data are to be loaded from a 50 GB web-storage. The company supplying this PC and concept is CherryPal.

This PC seems to be the best one fitting into the electricity constraints of a martian colony - but would require a web on Mars.

Next there was an article in the edition 28th of July this year reporting news about fuel cells. Boeing has eqipped an airplane from the austrian company Diamond Aircraft Industries with an eletromotor powered by two fuel cells.

The performance of those fuel cells is 15 to 17kW. Before Take-Off additional power of 20 kW is required that are got from a Lithium-Ion-Accumulator. The airplane has a tank weighing 80 kg containing 34 litres LH2 - sufficient for a flight lasting one hour. Compare this to the 2-Watts-PC and its weight...

There is a new solar cell according to the edtion 27.8.2008. It has been developed by the company Scheuten Solar from Netherlands together with the Technical University Tallin in Estonia.

The cell consists of glassy spheres of 0.2 millimeters diameter. Those spheres are layered by the electrically active material - more homogenous than otherwise. Because of this higher efficiencies are to be expected.

Beginning in 2010 cells with a peak performance of 250 MW are going to be produced. But the major reason they appear to be interesting for Mars to me is that the electrically active material is Cadmium-Indium-Disulfide. There are significant amounts of sulfur on Mars. So at least one ingredient of the material is locally available and might allow for partial ISRU-based production locally on Mars.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 11, 2008 2:32 pm
Please recall that I quoted an article in two other threads recently that told about an experiment where power was beamed over a distance of more than 100 km. The experiment was a success.

This seems to mean that power might be beamed down to Mars from an orbit indeed.

But the experiment applied radiowaves instead of the microwaves required. Asteo towards something interesting though.

The edition of Wirtschaftswoche of 8th of September this year reported about a power storage applied by the power plant Andasol 1. Surplus heat from the mirrors is used to heat salt in two tanks. The salt is liquified by that heat. This hot salt is used at night to create water steam to generate electricity for 7.5 hours.

Andasol 1 is designed for 50 MW.

On Mars too something similar may be possible - if a pressurized chamber is applied for example.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:50 pm
As an article of the german journal Wirtschaftwoche, edition 13th of October 2008, said the future of cars is going to be the electro-car. The results are going to be of meaning for martian rovers to as well as for all martian eqipment requiring electricity.

Two questions mentioned are the lifetime of accumulators and the capacity reductions during this lifetime.

The most experienced company is said to be Toyota that have sold a million hybrid cars during the past ten years.

So Toyota might have the best experience to construct very reliable accumulators for martian equipment. But according to the article they still rely on Nickel-Metalhydrades - instead of Lithium-Ions which they first will apply in 2012.

This remark makes me wonder what might be found and mined best on Mars - Nickel and other metals or Lithium? This would be the crucial question regarding ISRU-based and -produced accumulators.

Maybe I already posted it - but short circuits of Thium-Ion-accumulators in between can be avoided by a ceramic membrane developed by Evonik, Düsseldorf/Germany, and researches at the University Duisburg-Essen/Germany. So this problem should be largely reduced and thus be a much smaller problem regarding Mars now.

The already posted about Tesla-Roadster is mentioned but it is added that Alos Ruf, Allgäu/Germany, has developed a prototype applying 96 larger Lithium-Ion-accumulators like developed by Li-Tec, Kamenz/Germany. Alois Ruf uses those from Axeon/Dundee/UK. They are equipped by innovative Iron-Phosphate-electrodes, store 51 kwh. After 3000 load-cycles the capacity is reduced down to less than 70%. May be that this iis okay on Mars and that the lifetime is longer there since the smaller gravity will reduce the rate of poer consumption.

And Axeon is said to have said that the data mean that it is sufficient for 250,000 km...! Their next generation of accumulators they say will weigh by 15% less and have 30% hihjer capacity. To me this sounds very promissing for Mars and martian rovers. What about doing experiments and tests on the Moon?

Another article in the same edition adds that the 96 large accumulators weigh 538 kg.

An article in the edition of tenth of November 2008 tells that HarzOptics, Wernigerode/Germany and Autev, Brandenburg/Germany, have jointly developed an inovative lamp baes on lightdiodes. They consume by 40% to 60% less power than conventional lamps and their lifetime is thrice that of Na-steam lamps. They are called AuLED.

Finally an article in the edition of 20th of October 2008 reported thatAquamarine Transportation/UK, and Sea Solar Power; USA, have developed a concept that applies the difference of temperature between the surface and the depth of the oceans. The best locations to apply this are at and below tropical latitudes. The surface water is applied to evaporate a liquid of low vaporizing temperature while in parallel water from 900meters depth is pulled to reliquify the steam after being used. Might this be applied on Mars too? Wondering about this I have in mind the thread(s) about a colony within martian ice lakes where beneath the surface might be habitats isolated against the ice around them - but perhaps something else than water might be applied...



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Post    Posted on: Sun Dec 28, 2008 5:31 pm
In betwee there are new experiences with solar power on Mars to generate electricity.

The article "90 Days on Mars: Phoenix Lander Sends Martian Postcard" ( www.space.com/scienceastronomy/080828-p ... tcard.html ) tells that
Quote:
...the probe currently [28th of August - the poster] generating about 2,500 watt-hours each day - or about 1,000 watt-hours less than when it landed - because of waning sunlight. The absolute minimum needed for Phoenix to perform the most basic operations is about 1,000 watt-hours...
.

If I understand correct the power has been reduced by an average of 20 watt-hours per day during 50 days - in the polar circle. Of course the average can't be applied because the reductions occur non-linear - but it might be applied as indicator to illustrate requirements regarding accumulators.

According to the article "Mars Lander Starts Winter Shutdown" ( www.space.com/missionlaunches/081029-ph ... pdate.html ) one heater of Phoenix needed 250 watt-hours per sol. four such heaters kept Phoenix alive at temperatures of -80° C and -85° C. The article "Mars Lander Goes Inactive" ( www.space.com/missionlaunches/081030-ph ... pdate.html ) seems to mean that the heaters even kept it alive at -96° C - but with problems.

The also was another experience with dust storms - the article "Phoenix Lander Survives Martian Dust Storm" ( www.space.com/missionlaunches/081015-ph ... storm.html ) reported a drop of power from 2100 watt-hours by a couple hundred and then going up again to 2100. That was in the mid of October.

So the effect of dust storms on the amount of power seems to be much less than the unhandled dip of the sun. This might mean that the requirements of accumulators for dust storms are significantly different than those for seasons.

I will complete the informations later.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 14, 2009 8:33 pm
Under www.welt.de there was an artickle a time ago that reported about a successful experiment to deliver electricity wireless.

This might be interesting on Mars since no cables would be required that arcing might occur between.

In the experiment electricity has been delivered via electrical induction. It is said to be possible across sevral meters also. Rsonance is used.

Another article under www.wissenschaft.de reported about cheaper fuel cells that apply Silver and Nickel as catalysts instead of Platinum. Since there is Nickel on Mars ISRU might be possible regarding fuel cells.

That article also says that fuel cells might heat buildings - so they could be applied to avoid electricity consumption.

Finally there is an article reporting about the finding that photons might drive nanomachines via their optical force. I am wondering if the nanomachines miht be small generators...

The most interesting of all this is wireless delivery of electricity I think - it enables free mobility and might free rovers from a bit of weight perhaps: no solar sails required if their is a capacitor with sufficient capacity and the inductive equipment can be kept lightweight. Then the solar cells can be kept on the power stations. Those stations would have to be located along a certain path...

...



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Post    Posted on: Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:58 pm
The edition of Wirtschaftswoche of 16th of March 2009 is reporting that in between capacitors can compete to accumulators.

One example listed is an electrovehicle with three wheels - velocity 40 km/h, 500 Watts. That vehicle can go 20 km only until the capacitor must be rechargged but charging requires a few minutes only while at an accumulator some hours would have been required.

The vehicle was tested at the Research Center Karlsruhe (Germany) and Georg Bretthauer, head of the Institute for Apied Informatics, is quoted.

According to the article PowerSystems (Japan), EEStore (USA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are the Pioneers - they are working on a generation of capacitors that can power a car for 100 km at amass of 166 kg of the capacitor. Up to now that mass was 2000 kg. This progress isn't sufficient yet but a leap forward it seems to me.

The article says that capacitors are superior to accumulators for following reasons:

they don't be heated,
they don't explode,
their lifetime is nearly infinite,
they can be produced relatively cheaply because they don't require acids or other chemicals.

Richard Fodor - a colleague of Bretthauer is quoted to have said that in the nearby future capacitors wil become similar efficient as accumulators - he has a achieved a breakthrough regarding control of the discharging-cycle of capacitors. He links them together so that they release energy similar to an accumulator instead of like a flashlight.

It is said explicitly that they are fit to buffer surplus current of photovoltaic- and wind-power stations.

Maybe future Mars rovers might apply capacitors instead of accumulators in ten years or so.



What about this all?



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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:25 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
May be that another experience regarding the capability to survive by solar cells might be got.

According to the article "Mars Lander Team Applies for Mission Extension" ( www.space.com/missionlaunches/080723-ph ... nsion.html ):
Quote:
In November, Mars dips behind the sun and out of our view, but will eventually re-emerge. "Hopefully we'll still be alive after that," Arvidson said of Phoenix...
.

But of course the article also says that Phoenix will dy - also because of precipitation of CO2 in the martian winter.

This just this moment makes me wonder what the greenhouse effect of dry ice may be - might it be larger than that of gaseous CO2? If yes then it might positive for the required amount of electricity in winter - this amount might be less than to be expected at gaseous CO2. This may be interesting for habitats.

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