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#1 2008-05-16 19:39:35

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,937

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

I'm interested in how we might develop compressed gas storage on Mars, as this is I believe one of the most efficient means of storing energy - I think it achieves 90% plus efficiency.

The compressed gas when relieved can drive turbines.

Could this I wonder be combined with methane production so that as well as using the methane to burn and power steam turbines, we compress it as well so that the pressure can then turn turbines?

I believe we could store the compressed gas in inflatables buried in the regolith. 

Any thoughts?


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#2 2008-05-16 20:13:46

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,198

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

This reminds me of a few thread that would make use of Mars insitu atmospher to power what ever we desire with.

First is the sabetier, rwgs systems needed to make oxygen, some water and methane for a crews useage for starters. The insitu processing of these require compressing and some cooling to allow for the processes to work. These are on the order of 5 earth atmosphers of pressure in places in the systems.

Other threads of interest were for powering rovers or vehicles.
Running on Compressed Air? and this one ( Hydrogen Car Powered by Expansion of Liquid H2) thou it would be a poor use of hydrogen and then flying or in this case Martian Gashopper Aircraft but I think I have mentioned that coal mining trains used compressed gasses as well in another thread.

I would make use of waste gasses from the other processes for these rather than the initial CO2 capture would be a better use than dumping them out of the process after all the energy that has been used to capture them in the first place.

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#3 2008-05-17 07:34:05

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,937

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

Interesting article on a pretty big system:

We'd only need a scaled down version - enough for the equivalent of 10 homes over about two months I'd say...so that would be at about  1/20,000th the size I calculate!  I'll see if I can get some cubic metre figures as well.   



Compressed Air Energy Storage: Gaining Popularity as an Alternative Energy Source

College Park, MD (August 1, 2001)- Alternative energy sources are on a lot of people's minds these days. So, the idea of storing energy by compressing air in underground mines may sound like science fiction, but it is already being done in Alabama and within a few years residents in Ohio will have their own compressed air plant.

"The world's first compressed air energy storage plant was in Germany," says Lee Davis, plant manager for the Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) Power Plant in McIntosh, Alabama. "The Alabama CAES plant was the first in the United States when it opened in 1991."

The Alabama Electric Cooperative CAES plant works like this: On nights and weekends air is pumped underground and compressed using low-cost electricity at pressures up to 1,078 pounds per square inch. Average air pressure level at sea level is only 14.7 pounds per square inch. During the day at peak times, air is released and heated using a small amount of natural gas. The heated air flows through a turbine generator to produce electricity.

In conventional gas-turbine power generation, the air that drives the turbine is compressed and heated using natural gas. On the other hand, CAES technology needs less gas to produce power during periods of peak demand, because is uses air that has already been compressed and stored underground.

"The proposed plant in Norton, OH about 35 miles south of Cleveland will be the world's largest CAES plant," says Michael McGill, Vice President of business development at, Norton Energy Storage. "At peak operation, the plant will store enough electricity to provide 675,000 homes with electricity for just over two days."

With the success of the Alabama plant, developers began to look for other suitable locations. "We looked at several other states before we decided on an abandoned limestone mine in Ohio, but soon we hope to explore some of the other promising CAES sites around the country and begin constructing," says McGill.

While the idea of compressed air energy storage has been in existence for the last decade, it is only now gaining popularity and support as researchers look for energy alternatives. "I think that it is important for all states to look at their alternative energy generation resources and ways of storing energy," says John Turner, a researcher at National Renewable Energy Laboratory. " Compress air energy storage is definitely one."

CAES may be the solution to take the pressure off finding alternative energy sources.


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#4 2008-05-17 07:42:33

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,937

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

Well, if my calculations are anywhere near right, seems the CAES plant uses 1.8 million cubic metres of gas storage space. So divided by 20,000 that would be about 90 cubic square metres for two months supply!  Something like 5 M 3 would more than do it.

That doesn't sound much...are my calculations right?  Let's double it and more - call it 200M3 or something like that.


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#5 2008-05-17 08:15:42

Gregori
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From: Baile Atha Cliath, Eireann
Registered: 2008-01-13
Posts: 297

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

That may be the most interesting way of storing energy I've ever heard off and it doesn't do anything complicated! big_smile

Damn, I wish more people would think like that instead of crying about how our energy problems are hopeless and nuclear is the only awnser!!

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#6 2008-05-17 12:13:50

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
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Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

but this is only energy storage, nuclear really is the only answer big_smile  :x


-Josh

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#7 2008-05-17 15:09:01

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,937

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

Jumpboy -

Some points about nuclear v solar:-

1. Nuclear is mass intensive.

2. If nuclear goes seriously wrong there is probably little that can be done to fix it on Mars.

3. Nuclear can produce a lot of energy, but a lot of that energy is heat - not necessarily what we really need with our aerogel insulated habitats. We need electric power for artificial lighting in the farm zone, drilling, various electric motors etc.

4. Ultrathin PV film will be a less mass intensive solution than nuclear.

5. Solar energy does not require great specialist knowledge and engineering skills.

6.  There are risks associated with launch failure.

7.  Small scale nuclear reactor technology on Mars is an untried technology.


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#8 2008-05-18 13:05:06

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,513
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Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

going to mars will require untried technologies.  Thin film solar just doesn't beat nuclear, imagine having to dust off 10-100 km^2 of solar cell after a dust storm.  Nuclear really isn't dangerous, it is actually very low mass, and can be made to have multiple scram modes so that the chances of any semi-significant radiation release during reactor lifetime are .01%.


-Josh

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#9 2008-05-18 16:19:13

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,937

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

Sorry! Jumpboy - where did you get that figure of 100KM 2 from?!?

I think a 100M2 facility - one hectare - would be more than sufficient for a six person initial colony.


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#10 2008-05-18 18:48:02

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
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Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

I believe I heard that somewhere in the forum, but it may well have been metres.  I tend to exaggerate a bit, I suppose.  But the MSR (molten salt reactor) offers a safe and reliable way to make a nuclear reactor.  In the very worst case, with that kind of tech, siphon off a little bit of MS, and the reaction is stopped.  I just think that the wiring will be murder with solar panels.


-Josh

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#11 2008-05-18 19:09:59

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,937

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

Jumpboy - You must be suffering from the same disease as NASA (who came up with the ridiculous $400billion estimate for a Mars mission!).

Anyway, I don't think wiring will be a problem with PV film. I think that's one of its advantages. I think it's all integrated in the film - but I may be wrong!

The nuclear reactor still requires specialist knowledge.


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#12 2008-05-18 19:11:22

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
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Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

I forgot to say in my last post:  MSR is very compatible with NILFiR, because LiD is a salt.  NILFiR, while unproven, will not produce anything more radioactive than a bit of tritium, and through tritium, He-3, which is a no problem kind of thing. 

To directly address everything on your list:

1. Nuclear is mass intensive.

With sterling cycles, it is a large reduction in mass, and other power generation/cooling take up 99% of the weight of a reactor.  These could be reduced. 

2. If nuclear goes seriously wrong there is probably little that can be done to fix it on Mars.

You've read my post on nuclear safety.  Also, consider that very little work with reactors is hands on on earth, or at least I hope not, so it could be operated from earth.

3. Nuclear can produce a lot of energy, but a lot of that energy is heat - not necessarily what we really need with our aerogel insulated habitats. We need electric power for artificial lighting in the farm zone, drilling, various electric motors etc.

We need heat for the sabatier process, and many other processes.  heat can be used to bake water out of the regolith, recycle biological wastes etc.  thin PV panels are probably only 20% efficient anyway, the rest is heat and reflected light.

4. Ultrathin PV film will be a less mass intensive solution than nuclear.

See #1.  We don't know for sure, and Nuclear will use less astronaut-hours in setup. 

5. Solar energy does not require great specialist knowledge and engineering skills.

#2, #4, and previous post.  Also, it won't be too much for the explorers to know some basic structural engineering, ans they will need it all over the place.

6. There are risks associated with launch failure.

I beleive GCNRevenger repeatedly points out that unless it has recently been in a reactor, Uranium is no more dangerous than dirt.  That goes triple for NILFiR, except it isn't dangerous after being in a reactor either.  Also, we would hope that we could have a LV that most likely (<1%) won't blow up at launch.

7. Small scale nuclear reactor technology on Mars is an untried technology.

Pretty much everything is an untried technology on mars.  Nuclear on Mars is the same as nuclear anywhere, it is condition independent.  When you get down to it, light bulbs, inflatable habs, space suits, greenhouses, everything the colonists/explorers will use is currently untested on mars.  You don't argue against Space suits, I see, or Habs, or life support.


-Josh

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#13 2008-05-18 19:15:06

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,513
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Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

Jumpboy - You must be suffering from the same disease as NASA (who came up with the ridiculous $400billion estimate for a Mars mission!).

Anyway, I don't think wiring will be a problem with PV film. I think that's one of its advantages. I think it's all integrated in the film - but I may be wrong!

The nuclear reactor still requires specialist knowledge.

It seems I'm always trailing one post behind you  tongue .  You don't want to use semiconductors for energy transmission, because they aren't very good at it.

They came up with that estimate so they didn't have to do a mars plan.

See above for the specialist knowledge.


-Josh

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#14 2008-05-18 20:24:55

Commodore
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From: Upstate NY, USA
Registered: 2004-07-25
Posts: 1,021

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

You want to store compressed gasses underground?

Doesn't anyone remember Pompii?


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---Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane

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#15 2008-05-19 13:53:29

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,513
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Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

with an insulated canister, it really won't be that dangerous.


-Josh

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#16 2008-05-19 15:34:47

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,937

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

You said it for me Jumpboy. I'd have it covered in a nice heap of regolith. For the initial colony a space of 200 metres square (say 6X6X6 metres) would likely be sufficient to provide power for 2 months. If there was a leak it would be a slow one permeating through the regolith. 

I wouldn't have this as the only energy storage system. We'd have methane and chemical batteries as well.


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#17 2014-03-16 16:33:11

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,198

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

SpaceNut wrote:

This reminds me of a few thread that would make use of Mars insitu atmospher to power what ever we desire with.

First is the sabetier, rwgs systems needed to make oxygen, some water and methane for a crews useage for starters. The insitu processing of these require compressing and some cooling to allow for the processes to work. These are on the order of 5 earth atmosphers of pressure in places in the systems.

Other threads of interest were for powering rovers or vehicles.
Running on Compressed Air? and this one ( Hydrogen Car Powered by Expansion of Liquid H2) thou it would be a poor use of hydrogen and then flying or in this case Martian Gashopper Aircraft but I think I have mentioned that coal mining trains used compressed gasses as well in another thread.

I would make use of waste gasses from the other processes for these rather than the initial CO2 capture would be a better use than dumping them out of the process after all the energy that has been used to capture them in the first place.


I made this post in the whats the Best propulsion for a long range rover:

SpaceNut wrote:

Other thoughts that I am reminded of is compressed gas powered engine as another alternative.

Compressed gas energy storage of which the topic in my post referenced the older threads with links that do not work....had to use google advance search to relocate them.
Hydrogen Car Powered by Expansion of Liquid H2 & Running on Compressed Air?

Saw the article The Car That Runs On Air

1) The Hybrid Air Car uses compressed nitrogen, which is held in a tank called the high-pressure accumulator.

2) A hydraulic pump and piston compress nitrogen in the accumulator. When the nitrogen is released (by pressing the accelerator), the pump runs in reverse. Acting now as a motor, it harnesses the energy of the moving hydraulic fluid to send power to the wheels.

3) After the hydraulic fluid passes through the motor, it flows to the low-pressure accumulator, where it is stored for later use.

4) A gasoline engine supplements the air power when accelerating or going up hills. This could be an 82-hp 1.2 L I3 for subcompacts and a 110-hp 1.6 L I4 for compacts.

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#18 2014-03-16 17:33:03

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,198

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

Since we are going to start with compressing the atmosphere abd we will have many end products that we will not need we might as well looking at how to make use of them in other ways.

Liquid Nitrogen Car Threatens Hydrogen Car

On the safety side, nitrogen is mostly an inert gas that does not have the combustion properties of other gases such as hydrogen or oxygen. The compressed liquid nitrogen for turbine engines is heated using the ambient heat of the vehicle and as it expands, this turns the turbine, which supplies power to the wheels of the vehicle.

In 2000, the University of Washington created the LN2000, which was a converted mail delivery van that ran on liquid nitrogen. The 1984 Grumman-Olson Kubvan had a 15-hp, 5-cylinder air motor plus a preheater to deal with the nitrogen. The project has since been abandoned due to lack of funding.

In 1997, the University of North Texas (UNT) developed the CooLN2Car, which also ran off of cryogenic liquid nitrogen using an isothermal expansion engine. As of October 2006, the UNT Nitrogen Car Project was still moving forward according to the university as researchers are busy building a second-generation nitrogen-powered vehicle

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#19 2014-03-18 10:00:38

Quaoar
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Registered: 2013-12-13
Posts: 420

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

The problem of compress gas engines is that douring adiabatic expansion temperature drops very much, so if there are some traces of water vapor inside, the ice blocks the tubes. So the gas has to be completely water vapor free.

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#20 2014-03-18 11:12:05

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 3,655
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Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

Quaoar is exactly right about using dry gases for compressed gas systems.  Ice from humidity is a very serious problem,  even with ordinary "shop air". 

The Indians already market a compressed gas car.  Runs on compressed air.  Tata Motors,  I believe,  and I don't know how they solved the moisture problem,  except that they did or the car wouldn't work at all.  It fits a very special niche market in the way they do things in-country over there. 

As a car,  it doesn't meet safety standards over here in the US or Canada,  which lack is a part of what makes it feasible for their niche market over there (weight reduction for stuff left off).  The range is very short,  just a few miles.  The compression pressure is 4 or 5 thousand psi,  if memory serves.  That's most definitely not the "shop air" (85-100 psi) you find at filling stations.  Nor is it what you can buy retail in a compressor at the hardware store.  It is comparable to the military compressors used in submarines.  Those are not cheap,  nor are they energy efficient. 

Compressed gas propulsion will face exactly the same problems on Mars,  compounded by the near-vacuum atmosphere pressure available to start your compression process.  Here,  with a 1 atm source,  good-quality real-world compressors are around no more than 65% energy efficiency.  With 0.6% of an atm source,  that inefficiency gets far worse!  It compounds exponentially as the number of stages increases,  which it must. 

The non-compression phase-change methods of supplying the initial compression to near 1 atm,  will all be afflicted by very low throughput for the machine mass and power demand.  Further,  they are easier to implement as batch processes,  not continuous processes.  That's things like trapping dry ice inside a fixed small volume,  and then subliming it,  for self-compression of the vapor. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#21 2014-03-18 22:36:44

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,513
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Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

In terms of compressed gas, what would you think of releasing to a larger reserve at lower pressure, but higher than ambient?  For example from 10 ATM to .5 ATM?


-Josh

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#22 2014-03-19 09:21:53

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 3,655
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Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

In effect,  using a closed cycle,  so that the low pressure location is no longer the local atmosphere,  but something closer to the atmosphere here.  That makes existing compression machinery quite feasible,  but at the expense of carrying around the low pressure reservoir,  which is going to be huge compared to the high pressure reservoir. 

I honestly don't know,  but it's a trade-off certainly worth investigating.

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#23 2014-03-19 09:48:23

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,513
Website

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

Storing electrical or mechanical energy on Mars is going to be really tough.  For what it's worth, I think flywheels are a better option than compressed gas if we can get bearings that have a low enough friction.


-Josh

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#24 2014-03-20 20:20:15

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,198

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

I did a bit of research into the types of pumps after GW meantioned that mars is in comparison to Earth a vaccum so here they are.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_compressor

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrifugal_compressors

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_pump

With the low pressure then a first stage a Vaccum pump with a tank on its output side followed by gas compressor into another tank to allow it to cool towards being more liquid for the final stage centrifugal compressor whic goes into the final storage tank.

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#25 2014-03-21 19:03:31

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,937

Re: Compressed gas energy storage.

What about methane clathrates or iced methane?  Methane freezes at minus 165 celsius or thereabouts, so in many ways we can probably find plenty of places where Mars will do the freezing for us.


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