New Mars Forums

Official discussion forum of The Mars Society and MarsNews.com

You are not logged in.

Announcement

Announcement: We've recently made changes to our user database and have removed inactive and spam users. If you can not login, please re-register.

#76 2014-09-18 18:02:34

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,529

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

One deviation I have been thinking about is how hard it might be to manufacture Flourescent lamps.

For instance if beads of the necessary materials were hard landed, could something like a 3D printer build them?

If so, then you need solar cells or a nuclear reactor to power them, but the total quantity of glass and metal might be small relative to building a greenhouse.

This presumes that you could build an underground place to put the bulbs, and grow food that way.  What the material would be to build the structures I cannot say, but perhaps in lava tubes where sections have been walled off with a created frozen berm of soil and water?

Anyway, I just thought I would throw it into the mix.  It would be to grow certain things, most likely not bulk foods, or to replace greenhouse use where plants would prosper in them.

Then there are the mushrooms you guys hate to have me speak of, but if you can manufacture plastics and Oxygen, then you can create oils and Oxygen and feed them to Mushrooms.

I don't see this as this or that, but some of this and some of that.


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

Offline

#77 2014-09-18 19:31:37

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

I was part of the Mars Homestead Project, phase 1, Hillside Settlement. Our design started with 12 settlers. To keep the effort focussed on building the settlement, we assumed Mars Direct habitats. So 3 habitats with 4 crew each. Then a 4th hab as a backup, filled with supplies. This meant 4 inflatable greenhouses to start. The 4th hab was to have a loader as a small earth moving vehicle, instead of a rover. Something like a Bobcat, but built for Mars. Each Mars Direct ERV was to include a small nuclear reactor; standard Mars Direct design. But then the big deliveries start. A cargo lander as big as an ERV, but all cargo. One was to deliver a nuclear reactor. So not just a little 100kWe reactor (SP-100 or SAFE-400) mounted on a Curiosity size rover. This reactor would be the entire landed mass. And the loader would build a dirt dyke all around the reactor, for radiation shielding.

Heat from the reactor could boil water to steam, and steam pipes run through permafrost. There was discussion about the possibility of glaciers; if found then build the base adjacent to one of those. If fact, one option is to vent steam directly into the glacier. Hollow out a cave in the glacier, but keep the cave roof to contain heat and humidity. Let liquid water build up at the bottom, and just use a hose with a sump pump to deliver water to filtration equipment at the settlement.

Another use for the reactor: smelt steel. The direct iron method is far more energy efficient that traditional smelters, and a few smelters on Earth use it now. A lot more efficient, a lot lower temperature, a lot less coal. The catch is it only works with very high grade ore. The good news is the hematite concretions found on Mars are that high grade ore. Mine concretions, crush matrix rock, sift and tumble to knock off soft sedimentary matrix rock leaving nothing but pure hematite. The put the hematite through a much stronger crusher, and crush them to fines. To smelt, you need +900°C; which a nuclear reactor can produce directly. Especially if you use titanium alloy coolant pipes instead of steel. It requires carbon monoxide and hydrogen. But you have to be careful, carbon dissolves into iron. The more carbon monoxide you use, the higher carbon content in steel. If you use too much CO, then steel will have too much carbon, becoming brittle. On Earth they don't use so much hydrogen because it's expensive. But on Mars you use hydrogen to make CO, so using lots of hydrogen is Ok.

So I'm saying we deliver key components for mining and refining right away.

Offline

#78 2014-09-18 20:07:16

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

Fluorescent lights

Glass tubes, with a fluorescent coating on the inside of the glass. Tungsten filament at each end. Filled with argon gas, and a drop of mercury. They need a ballast of some sort, today all fluoresent lamps use an electronic ballast because their so much cheaper and last just as long. I did a Google for "electronic ballast", here are a few schematics from one website.
schematic_CFL_ballast.jpg
2jpg_00000036902.jpg
linefl.gif
201161935041170.gif
Notice they all include transistors and diodes. I'm not sure how to make those. Robert Zubrin's book talks about processing silicon: start with white silica sand, add carbon, heat in an electric furnace. The causes the "carbothermal reaction", which converts SO2 and C into silicon metal and carbon monoxide. That can be used for various things, including silicon carbide, but for electronics you need hyper pure silicon. For that, bathe silicon metal in pure hot hydrogen gas. That converts silicon into silane (SiH4), but any iron is left behind. Hydrides could be produced by impurities reacting with hydrogen, but all those hydrides are solid; silane is a gas at room temperature. Then pipe the silane gas to another reactor that heats it. Under high temperature, silane breaks down into silicon metal and hydrogen gas. So if there's some hydrogen in the silane gas, that's Ok. The hydrogen can be recycled. The second reactor accumulates hyper pure silicon. Suitable for transistors, diodes, photovoltaic cells, or microchips. As for how to create those... Uh...

A fluorescent lamp works by first running current through the tungsten filaments at the ends, causing them to heat. This part is exactly the same as an incandescent bulb. As it gets hot, it boils some mercury. Once mercury vapour fills the tube, then current stops flowing through the tungsten filaments, instead one filament becomes positively charged, the other negative. Current flows through the mercury vapour. Actually the current is alternating (AC). This AC current through mercury vapour causes it to emit UV light. That UV light is absorbed by the fluorescent coating, which re-emits it as visible light.

The fluorescent coating can be a few formulations. It has been called "phosphors" because the formula started with phosphorus. But that emits an orangey-yellow colour. To make it look white, some blue had to be added. Early phosphors added antimony, which emits a little blue-green, but mostly blue.
Wikipedia: Phosphor composition

Composition of old phosphor: Ca5(PO4)3(F, Cl):Sb3+, Mn2+
Typical modern: rare earth doped phosphors, Tb3+, Ce3+:LaPO4 for green and blue emission and Eu:Y2O3 for red.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2014-09-19 01:51:57)

Offline

#79 2014-09-18 21:39:34

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

Void wrote:

I don't see this as this or that, but some of this and some of that.

Actually, I have argued strongly for ambient light greenhouses. They're the only life support system that works during complete power loss. However, although that sounds purist, even they require something else. Prolonged global dust storms can block ambient light. During those times you need artificial light.

Offline

#80 2014-09-19 05:57:07

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,529

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

Or, perhaps surplus could be stored.

I would like to think of a lava tube with nuclear reactor, habitat, and natural freezer, and also somehow safely storing Oxygen in some way.

However I think that Ice caves in a glacier is more achieveable.

But for lights, I am thinking their might be special plants, but not many.

I think greenhouses should have the lowest pressure that will support the plants, so that the structure can be minimized, at least until production of manufactured materials has been expanded to make shirt sleeve greenhouses.

But that might leave some plants that are not going to grow well in a low pressure environment.  Also for the habitat it would be cheerful to have a few growing plants around, so artificial lights may have a place at some point.

I also am as you know in favor of chemosynthisis, although that will require new methods except for Mushrooms.  (Chemicals can be stored to be used during dust storms, and damage to the greenhouse system, which will sooner or later happen.


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

Offline

#81 2014-09-19 07:28:16

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

Robert Zubrin argued in his book "The Case for Mars", for the same pressure as Apollo. Both Apollo and Skylab used 3.0 psi partial pressure O2, plus 2.0 psi partial pressure N2. Result was 5.0 psi total pressure. That allowed decompression to suit pressure without any prebreathing. Apollo suits used 3.3 psi total pressure pure oxygen, which allowed for 10% pressure loss without compromising breathing. I have argued for Mars suits to have 3.0 psi total pressure pure O2, and the hab to have 2.7 psi partial pressure O2. That gives the hab more partial pressure O2 than some cities on Earth, yet still gives the suit ability to suffer 10% pressure loss through a leak before achieving the same O2 pressure as the hab. Then instead of using nitrogen to dilute O2, use what I call "diluent gas". That would be from Mars atmosphere: remove CO2 with a freezer, use a platinum or rhobidium catalyst to combine carbon monoxide with natural O2 that exists in Mars atmosphere, that same catalyst would break down ozone into O2. The result is by far mostly nitrogen and argon, with a little CO2, even less O2, and just traces of xenon, neon, and krypton. Then use the same CO2 sorbent that a cabin life support system uses to scrub remaining CO2. In fact a freshly built hab would add this diluent gas to O2, which would have so much CO2 that you could breathe but it would smell stuffy. Then run the life support system to get rid of that last bit of CO2. The result would be 2.7 psi partial pressure O2, 3.6 psi N2, and 2.133 psi Argon; total pressure 8.433 psi. That provides the maximum hab pressure, and still allow zero prebreathe time for decompression to suit pressure. That is with 3.0 psi suits. That was to satisfy those who argued for maximum hab pressure; as close to Earth as possible. The ratio of N2:Ar is exactly the same as Mars ambient (as measured by Viking 2), so making "diluent" gas is as simple as possible.

I still think it would be far simpler to make greenhouse pressure the same as habitat pressure. That allows workers to just walk from one to the other. More nitrogen helps plants, at least those that fix nitrogen. I read it's actually a bacterium that fixes nitrogen, and legumes grow that bacterium in nodes in their roots. Whatever, you get the idea. You could reduce diluent gas, as long as plants get enough nitrogen. Or just make nitrogen fertilizer granuals. I could post the exact process to make those granuals from diluent gas, but obviously don't want to post that on a public webpage. Removing nitrogen from diluent gas would give almost pure argon, with traces of ammonia, neon, xenon, and krypton. That could be used to fill the gap for greenhouse windows. What hab/greenhouse pressure would you use?

Offline

#82 2014-09-19 07:38:39

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,529

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

I would have small production with artificial lights in the hab at whatever suits a human.

A small shirt sleeve greenhouse at pressure suitable for humans might be provided at first, would be provided later, to provide a "Park" experience and to grow specialized produce.

I would have ice water bags for plankton at the minimum pressure to satisfy the needs of a rugged organism(s).  Maybe just a few mb above ambient if possible, and ice water.

I would have primary large greenhouses at the minimum possible for vascular plants.  Don't know what that is, but maybe hope for the range of 20-70 mb.  My reasoning is that robots will likely be sophisticated enough to do gardening by then if guided remotely by humans, and in some cases humans then could also have the counterpressure suits to enter the greenhouses when necessary.  They are going to have to have them to go outside anyway.

For this I would use the multi-layer process I have previoiusly  mentioned because if a pressure of 50 mb would work for a bulk crop, then the bulk of metal and plastic and glass needed could be minimized.
But to find such a crop, and create a variety tuned to such a habitat may be a trick. 

I would deninitely consider incorporating a bulk of water into the interior of such a device either open or contained, to moderate the temperature swings.  It could also be suitable for aquaculture of some kind.

If simply a balloon with water and light soil in it's bottom, I had considered Cattails, but they are seasonal, and I don't think they grow at high altitudes for some reason.  Don't know if it is pressure related, if so, then they are out.

But they would propigate by roots or sex, and could be left relatively untended until harvested.  It may seem "What good are they?".  Well, parts are edible, and the fiber would be useful, and by that time I am guessiing that their will be a process to break down the non-edible parts into sugar or some other hydrocarbon, and from that you could grow yeast, or you could grow mushrooms on the left over organic matter.

It's a first try.


What I would be looking for is something that is low maintenance, and maybe not the most prime crop but able to produce a bulk of organic matter from sunlight and provided chemestry and pressure.

I have to guess there will be something that fits the bill.  Maybe simply some kind of rugged grass or water reed.

Maybe elodea.

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

I have seen no evidence that it can be eaten, or that people would want to eat it, but it produces Oxygen quite well I think, and being completely submerged, should be unaffected by large temperature swings, as long as the average temperature of the water is similar to a North American lake.  I presume that the product would be Oxygen, water recycling, and the plant matter which I presume in the future could be broken down to sugar.  A low maintenance crop I hope.

In that case a Robot Boat, or a Boat-Suit could be used to tend the "Crop".

Maybe I am thinking of a hay field.  Instead of cows, convert it to sugar and make fuel or yeast or both, or grow mushrooms.

I am not saying you could not grow a vegtible crop.  Cattails actually would sort of be, if you could do it.  But I am looking for something that can produce in bulk once it is set up, and does not require a lot of person power to run day to day.

At the very least if you wanted to resort to growing carp in another more pressurized water tank, you would have food for them.
Goldfish=Carp
http://www.ehow.com/facts_5949891_kind- … ants_.html

It is presumed that mostly being a vegitarian on Mars is good, but if you do have a way to mass produce fish food, perhaps a bit of fish now and then would not be that bad a thing.

Unlike cows, fish will not burn up energy maintaining body heat.  I presume that being cold blooded, they need perhaps 1/3 the food as a mammal to exist.

I hadn't thought about it before, but a crop submerged in water also may have some additional radiation protection.

Last edited by Void (2014-09-19 14:04:17)


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

Offline

#83 2014-09-19 16:45:13

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

There are several arguments for vegan Mars. To start with, it takes several pounds of animal feed to make one pound of meat. Mammals consume a lot of energy just maintaining body temperature. And animals will try to escape from whatever enclosure you use, so you need a hard walled barn. Goats or chickens would bite/eat/peck their way through a plastic film greenhouse.

Mammals are far too inefficient. They consume far to much energy for body heat. Although birds are also warm blooded, they don't consume as much energy as mammals to maintaining body heat. That means fewer pounds of feed for one pound of meat. That's why chicken and turkey are so much less expensive than beef or pork. Furthermore, pigs eat the same food as humans, just less processed. And a feed lot feeds cattle the same food as humans. Cattle are ruminants, they eat high cellulose food, so they can eat straw instead of grain. The problem with a feed lot is they provide grain, not straw. By the way, cattle eat straw, not hay. Straw is crisp and fresh, hay is decayed and soft. They sleep on hay, but eat straw. Nit picky, but farmers find that important.

After growing traditional crops, there will be left-over vegetable matter. What do you do with straw? Or leaves and stems of potato plants? That's where livestock comes in.

The other problem is how to get livestock to Mars. We discussed this. My solutions were to send fertilized chicken eggs, frozen in liquid nitrogen. Whether that would work requires some research. But that's research we can do with a small farm here on Earth. The other idea was to put calves freshly weaned from milk into hibernation. It's been done with deer, elk, and moose, but 10% of animals died, and of those that survived, 30% suffered permanent brain damage. Those with brain damage became lethargic: stood around doing nothing but eat, sleep, and shit. But for livestock contained within a pressurized barn on Mars? That's not a bad thing. And the 10% that die when you attempt revival: Mars settlers would get a beef dinner. The calf wouldn't be force fed, so would that be veal or beef? The meat would be permeated with gasses required for hibernation: hydrogen sulphide. That will affect flavour. But I'm sure the first settlers would appreciate any meat. But this hasn't been tested with calves.

But the question is whether beef is appropriate at all. Many have argued for tilapia. That species of fish tolerates extreme crowding, so can handle a small tank. And eat pretty much any plant based food. So straw or potato leaves/stems could be processed into fish pellets. My concern with aquaculture is sufficient water. As long as you have a large glacier, then fine. But if you only have permafrost, then energy and resource cost of water may not allow aquaculture.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2014-09-20 14:57:54)

Offline

#84 2014-09-19 17:17:38

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

If you want a small animal, pre-Columbian Inca people ate guinea pig. Rich members of that society ate llama and alpaca, but common folk ate guinea pig. Their natural diet is grass, with a little fruits and vegetables. They're rodents, but don't naturally hibernate. But since they are rodents, would they respond to hydrogen sulphide the same way as mice or rats? Worth a try.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2014-09-20 15:04:58)

Offline

#85 2014-09-20 09:03:15

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,868

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

RobertDyck wrote:

If you want a small animal, pre-Columbian Inca people ate guinea pig. Rich members of that society ate llama and alpaca, but common folk at guinea pig. Their natural diet is grass, with a little fruits and vegetables. They're rodents, but don't naturally hibernate. But since they are rodents, would they respond to hydrogen sulphide the same way as mice or rats? Worth a try.

South Americans still eat them today.  The ones used in farming are larger than the pet variety.  I have argued before that they would be perfect for the first farmed animals on Mars, much easier to manage I think than chickens. I think they can survive well on green lettuce - at least our pet GPs did!  Lettuce is just the sort of crop which should be easy to grow hydroponically.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

Offline

#86 2014-09-20 09:18:29

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,868

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

For the farm hab, I favour (following in part Zubrin) "Roman brick" arch construction over trenches. The trenches can be cut out of the Mars regolith by small imported diggers (specially adapted or built of course for Mars conditions e.g. with microwave heaters to soften the regolith and make it easier to dig and powered by cable from solar panels).  The bricks will be Mars bricks, manufactured automatically in special Mars kilns imported from Earth. These will convert the right recipe of Mars regolith and water into mud bricks which can be fired. The arches can be sealed with ice and covered with regolith.  These semi-subterranean farm habs would be lit with LED lights, imported from Earth, and heated by warmed air  - both powered by PV panels. 

These structures will be quick to construct, and low maintenance.

The shelving for the mostly hydroponic agriculture could be manufactured locally, as steel parts.

The main issue will be air locks and ventilation.

I've wondered in the past about "ice doors" to replace imported air locks. The idea would be to have something like the equivalent of a U Bend that, when the lock is closed has ice at the bottom of the bend, but when you want to pass through, the ice is melted and the water is pumped out.  When you want to close it again, you pump the water back in and refreeze it.  Just an idea...since manufacturing air locks on Mars will be a resources heavy undertaking. Alternatively, could we use somethign like basalt to construct big roll over discs that seal locks and are kept in place by pressure difference.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

Offline

#87 2014-09-20 19:36:15

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,529

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

Louis,

That's not a bad plan, but I suggest consideration of another option first.

If a nuclear reactor could be landed at a location on a major glacier or ice deposit at a location otherwise favorable, then I suggest that a habitat landed in it's proximity could then have an ice tunnel created to link the two.  Another consideration would be a proximate island of bedrock where those stony structures could be created.

But first, such a power supply linked by a ice tunnel to a habitat might provide that diode driven agriculture that might occur in insulated compartments made of easily manufactured materials, the insulated compartments inside of the ice tunnel.

1) A major water supply and an easily formed structure (Ice Tunnels)/Mineral wool compartment lighted with diodes.
2) Stony brick structures, and the beginning of metal working.
3) Metals, glass, plastics.

The floor of such an ice tunnel could have a layer of soil thick enough to insulate the permafrost to allow heating of it's top layers for a period of time long enough to grow a crop.
Then let that area rest and cool off, but plant another section of the tunnel.
For safety, since the roof could shed rocks or ice chunks, some type of a cart with a roof that could be pushed or motored the length of the tunnel to protect the persons.  They might also wear their PPE, their minimal environmental suits and be able to pressurize them as necessary.

The tunnel itself might have a door, not an airlock, that could be opened during times of construction or reconstruction putting the interior pressure at ambient outside, but allowing full communication of resources into the tunnel.  Then sealing the door and pressurizing the tunnel and growing some crops.  Such ice tunnels would also be suitable for long term storage of frozen or freeze dried organic items.  Harder to store would be Oxygen, but that also.

Making more tunnels would allow a "Manufacturing Floor" a factory to begin metal working.

Then begin working with stone in the manner you have cited.

Last edited by Void (2014-09-20 19:54:28)


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

Offline

#88 2014-09-20 19:40:51

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,529

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

Robert,

tilapia. sounds OK.

I personally think it would not hurt to move away from eating mammals.  For some type of evolving higher morality, and also because the closer an organism is to a human apparently the more likey eating it will help cancer to develop.

Humans are also less likely to share diseases with fish than mammals.  So it might be better not to have such a reservoir of potential disease in the presence of humans in a closed loop environment.

And fish are more efficient I think.


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

Offline

#89 2014-09-20 20:06:59

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,706

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

I have tried Florescent bulbs in the house with mixed results as they do not like repeated on off cycling, cold, moisture and hard shock vibrations.... Another vatiant of this style of lighting is in electro luminescent panels (paper thin sheet) which glow when power is applied much like a florescent light does...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroluminescence
http://www.tech-faq.com/what-is-electro … cence.html
http://www.e-lite.com/about-el/
http://electroluminescence-inc.com/ELsheets.htm

Last edited by SpaceNut (2014-09-20 20:15:37)

Offline

#90 2014-09-20 21:24:24

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

A couple local members are vegan. Lindsay Price was a retired Canadian military photo-tech. Unfortunately he died a year and a half ago. Pancreatic cancer. He was 71. He was a friend. He kept talking about being vegan, but still ate meat. A new person only attended one meeting so far, is strictly vegan. She can be quite tiresome. And I helped a politician in 2006, also vegan. So there are a few. They have a point, but I'm not.

Keeping livestock of any sort introduces several additional problems. They consume oxygen and water, produce waste, require regular feeding, medical care, and housing in something they can't break. Manure and urine can be quite something to recycle. This is why I have said the first Mars settlers would be vegan. Not for any philosophical reason, but just because it's practical. I think it's easier to cook with starch instead of eggs, rather than find a way to get chickens to Mars. Transporting livestock is an issue. How? I talked about freezing fertilized chicken eggs, but as discussed in the livestock thread, refrigerating chicken eggs in a normal kitchen fridge would kill them. A normal kitchen freezer would also kill them. Chicken farms have a special fridge that isn't as cold, and can keep fertilized eggs for a few weeks, but maximum 6 weeks. A trip to Mars is 6 months. I suggested surgically removing the embryo then freezing it in liquid nitrogen, the same way human sperm or ova are frozen. Freeze the rest of the egg separately. Once on Mars, thaw the egg, then thaw the embryo and re-insert. Then incubate. But one person in the livestock thread said it may be possible to freeze whole fertilized eggs in liquid nitrogen. That would be far more convenient. He said owned a small chicken farm and would ask his friend/neighbour/expert to try it. Unfortunately they had life issues, no longer have access to necessary equipment. So the test was never done.

My point is simply going vegan allows you to transport seeds instead. They keep years. A lot simpler.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2014-09-20 21:26:46)

Offline

#91 2014-09-20 22:21:36

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

SpaceNut wrote:

I have tried Florescent bulbs in the house with mixed results as they do not like repeated on off cycling, cold, moisture and hard shock vibrations.... Another vatiant of this style of lighting is in electro luminescent panels (paper thin sheet) which glow when power is applied much like a florescent light does...

Here in Manitoba, stores are not allowed to even sell incandescent bulbs. Your choices are fluorescent, CFL, or LED. Some halogen bulbs are still available. I have a box of old bulbs, but converted my house to CFL before the government outlawed sale of incandescent. The electric utility exports power for profit, owned by the provincial government, profits to government coffers so they can get more money without raising taxes. The less power we consume, the more they can export. But environmentalists can get ridiculous. I attended one meeting where one woman argued to increase domestic power rates. I argued to reduce them. And to make matters worse, one man at that same meeting argued to ban CFL bulbs, to force people to buy LED only. The politician looked at me with dread, then just said "no", he won't.

That meeting was supposed to convince people to upgrade energy conservation. But I was the only low-income person there. Everyone else was a contractor, or the two environmental nuts. So I alone was their target audience. I argued the "incentives" they offered were only useful for wealthy individuals that didn't need help, and newer houses that didn't need any upgrade.

Due to historical things, the City ended up with a power utility it owned, and served the core area, while the Provincial government bought all other power utilities. They had deliberately maintained lower power rates as an incentive to draw business here. But now the Province sees it as a cash cow. They pressured the City to sell their utility, so the Province could have a monopoly. Voters ensured they didn't. In fact, didn't elect any politician who even hinted at selling the City utility. And voters played off one vs the other to ensure rates stayed low. A few years ago the issue of selling Winnipeg Hydro was the main issue for the mayoral election. Voters elected the candidate who said he wouldn't sell it. Then he did. His political career in this city is over. But now the Province is slowly but steadily increasing rates. My argument is to roll back domestic electric rates to the date they bought the City utility, the date they became a monopoly. But politicians just smile and ignore me.

So you're still using old fashioned bulbs? I couldn't if I wanted to.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2014-09-21 07:34:55)

Offline

#92 2014-09-21 00:02:54

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,529

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

I think you should not worry about it.

If you would study the fourth turning, it might make sense.

Last edited by Void (2014-09-21 17:52:42)


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

Offline

#93 2014-09-21 08:48:56

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

I'm not young, I'm middle age. I'm the youngest of the boomers. But I don't see the US as a safe place to live. I did live there for two contracts: 6 months in a suburb of Richmond, Virginia, in 1997, and 10 months in Miami, Florida. Weather in Miami is wonderful! Unfortunately there was a lot of prejudice. I'm white, but all the prejudice was offensive. Ironically, the only prejudice I saw in Virginia was a guy from New Jersey. But in Miami the Argentineans hate the Cubans, the Cubans had the Mexicans, every Hispanic group hates every other. The Hispanic and blacks hate each other, and whites hate all of them. I had a great difficulty getting banking services from downtown bank; then I noticed all the branch managers were Hispanic. I had to go to the suburbs where they were white just to get service. That's ridiculous. There is some tension in Canada with whichever group is the latest immigrants, but it isn't about colour. The official government line is "multiculturalism", and we do respect different cultures, but the citizens demand new immigrants assimilate basic Canadian values. But what I saw in Miami was way over the top. The lady I dated at the time wanted me to stay with her, and since I'm interested in politics, tried to convince me to get involved with the election. That was the presidential election in Florida in year 2000. Need I say more?

Now there's this:
The Washington Post: Stop and seize: Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes

So police stop motorists and ask "are you carrying any large amount of cash". Now whether you have anything illegal, just cash. Then they take the cash. That's highway robbery. Police tell their victims that if they take this to court, your money will be consumed by legal fees. But of those cases that have gone to court, the courts have ruled more than half are illegal seizure. Police don't even try to find any crime to excuse their seizure. This is literally highway robbery. By police. I refused any job offer in the States while George W. Bush was president, it just wasn't safe. But Obama hasn't fixed anything. The Patriot Act hasn't been repealed, it's was renewed. It was altered a little, but not much. I said before, terrorists try to trick government into doing things that cause far more damage than anything they could do themselves. And it worked, the Patriot Act is that damage. And it's still there. And the US has bulked up the border with Canada. After everything Canada has done to protect our neighbour and ally, we're now treated as if terrorists come from here.

When "Turks and Caicos" said they wanted to join Canada, I hoped they would. A Caribbean island, part of Canada? Great! I would get the wonderful weather of Miami, and still be in Canada. I pointed out the US has Hawaii, so why can't we have some Caribbean island? Many Canadians wanted that too. But it didn't happen. Other Caribbean islands have asked to join Canada in the past, none have happened.

Canada has some serious problems, but the US has gotten worse.

Offline

#94 2014-09-21 13:42:21

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,078
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

Careful guys,  this has gotten a bit political.  One of the moderators may step in.  Although,  some of the criticisms seem well-founded. 

I saw a comment above about livestock being "inefficient".  That's true,  depending upon what you measure and how you measure it.  Maybe not so true looking at a larger picture. 

But,  consider this:  livestock are one proven way to get lots of what we might call "organic fertilizer",  in simpler terms,  manure with microbes in it.  The so-called "sustainable agricultural practices" here on Earth depend upon that kind of fertilizer as a way not to turn real soil into just rock dust doped with chemicals.  (Unfortunately,  the output from that cannot sustain all 7 billion of us.) 

It doesn't matter that there are vegetable means of producing calories and protein more efficiently,  pound for pound.  You still need the manure with all that microscopic ecosystem in it.  It's just the way life evolved.  Cannot fight it,  seems silly to fight it,  actually.  Plus,  we ourselves evolved as omnivores.  Not carnivores-only.  Not vegetarians-only.  Omnivores.  It takes that mix of foods to support the size of our brains.  Unpleasant little evolutionary fact of life,  I guess. 

As far as transporting livestock to Mars (or anywhere else) goes,  that is another big argument for artificial gravity.  It'll just take a whopping big ship to send lots of supplies and livestock to start a real farm colony.  Guys,  that's where the old nuclear pulse propulsion comes into play.  It's only high-performance if you build spaceships larger than current naval warships.  The very sort of thing we would need. 

We have the concepts and most of the means to do this right now.  All that is lacking is the political and social will.  In a world ravaged by a recession/depression where only the already-rich received any substantive relief aid,  people like us wanting to colonize space are definitely in the minority,  and by far.  That means setting up big self-sustaining colonies on Mars is not a reasonable expectation for some decades yet. 

But setting up small bases and experimenting with ways and means to live off the land is a reasonable expectation in the next few-to-several years.  There's pressurized buildings for living spaces and dry-land agriculture,  and there's ponds of water under ice-and-regolith cover,  for aquaculture.  The pressurized buildings are fundamentally scale-limited to relatively small sizes by the square-cube law.  But,  covered-pond aquaculture is not fundamentally-limited in that way.  Fish,  shellfish,  crustaceans,  and aquatic plants could have a really big role to play on Mars in the future.

The real trick is inducing a few visionary commercial entities to go try it.  All the technologically-capable governments have proven rather feckless for over 40 years now.  I wouldn't bother holding my breath waiting for one of them to mount a Mars expedition.  Not even NASA.  Almost none of the big,  serious things they going on,  have much to do with interplanetary-range human flight.  Going to Mars ain't going to the moon.  We're talking years,  not a couple of weeks,  in space. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

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

Offline

#95 2014-09-21 15:12:03

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

"Nuclear pulse" means dropping a series of nuclear bombs behind you. Nuclear explosion hits a concussion plate, shock absorbers connect that to the spacecraft. It only works if you're inside the blast radius. That's dangerous, I wouldn't want to ride one. But with everything that's going on now, I don't see anyone allowing any nuclear bombs in space.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2014-09-21 19:28:30)

Offline

#96 2014-09-21 15:45:44

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

We veered off topic because there doesn't appear to be anything left to talk about. How to do it is pretty much settled, not it's just a matter of doing it. NASA could send crewed/human science missions with today's technology and today's budget. It may require cancelling Orion/MPCV/CST-100 to free funds and engineers to work on the Mars spacecraft. But that doesn't appear to be politically expedient. I still argue Dragon and Cygnus are both good cargo ships, Dragon v2 and Dream Chaser are both good crew ships. But Orion is Apollo redux, and designed for only one purpose: return to the Moon. Since that mission was cancelled, it no longer has a purpose. We may have to wait until Orion has flown once before Congress is willing to cancel it. And if it isn't cancelled, then Mars requires more funds.

The Canadian Space Agency doesn't have enough money to do it alone. I have proposed a Canadian-led international mission, but very few listen to me. Russia is still recovering from collapse of the Soviet Union and shift to free market economy. They appear to have control of organized crime, but I'm not sure you could call them "free market" yet. Besides, Russia depended on Ukraine for a lot of their aerospace expertise and infrastructure. Without getting into politics, Russia has major problems; they aren't in a position to do it. China has expressed interest, but they have a way to go yet. India has some assets, but less than China. And Europe is still recovering from the economic melt-down of 2008, and worried about Russia. Commercial interests would require short-term profit. Mars has great potential, but I don't see short-term profit to pay for it. So that just leaves NASA. As long as Congress is not willing to do it, we're pretty much screwed.

Offline

#97 2014-09-21 17:56:20

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,529

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

Thanks for the caution.  I have modified my not nice post.

I really am not as riled up as you might suppose.  I merely see it as a necessary but frustrating cultural cycle.  Has to be.

I think that there are a lot of good developments in the area of space capability.  It will just take time, and we have to hope that our "Civilization" has enough time.  Our meaning any nation that has the will to dream of it.

My understanding is that most vegans eventually go meat crazy, and have to break down and indulge in it.

I like to think that the proper way to start on Mars is to admit that you have to bring some of the stuff obviously at first.

Then we have the Roman Arch concept, but I actually think that that is too advanced for the early situation.  It involves heavy labor, heavy machinery, and  would take considerable time.  But I am not saying don't do it.

I feel that by working with Ice and as you mentioned artificial bodies of water, a lower technical and less challenging technical achievement would provide gains earlier.

For instance most people don't like the ideas of ice tunnels to farm in, but I think that "Huts" inside made of mineral wool perhaps and a layer of soil would be a better sized task.  It is worth mentioning that the Roman arch concept also relies on ice not melting, so it is almost the same thermal challenge.

So I think if lighting a fire.  It starts with a spark and goes to a small flame.  It takes a skillful sequence to bring it up to the level of a fire.

But I do not reject any on the structure ideas that have been presented here, I just feel that they too will be brought into service as a part of a sequence of expanding capabilities.

Last edited by Void (2014-09-21 18:08:21)


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

Offline

#98 2014-09-21 19:17:52

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,706

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

RobertDyck I actually have been experimenting with a variety of LED types of bulbs with multiple small LEDS in them to make one light as well as the high intensity units made up of a single LED....

I agree with the ship/ landing units in that any will work for given purposes and that we just need to fund mars....

We do know the methods to which we can build from the start of occupation of mars and what it depends on is the construction equipment as well as what we select to do.

Offline

#99 2014-09-21 19:24:03

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,150
Website

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

This topic started as a discussion of hydroponics vs soil. I argue for soil. With soil, you don't need nutrient solutions. Plant roots can extract needed nutrients directly from soil. Method:
- shovel Mars dirt into a large sieve to remove rocks.
- shovel sifted Mars dirt into soil trays in a pressurized greenhouse
- prepare water with pressurized Mars atmosphere. This creates soda water. You don't need pure CO2 gas, just Mars atmosphere with dust filtered out.
- soak soil with that soda water. This will decompose superoxides and peroxides, releasing a small amount of oxygen.
- acid in the soda water will reduce strength of alkali soil, and break down the minerals somewhat. It also adds a small amount of carbon to soil.
- add ammonium nitrate fertilizer granules
- plant seeds. Watch your crops grow.

That's it. Average Mars regolith is low in potassium, but does have some. You could send a geologist to find Mars dirt high in potassium. Or find rocks containing potassium, and chemically extract the potassium for fertilizer. To ensure soil doesn't become depleted, compost plant matter that isn't food: straw, leaves, stems, etc. Compost means worms, bacteria, and other organisms will thrive. Compost is well know as excellent soil conditioner.

Offline

#100 2014-09-21 21:33:28

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,529

Re: Greenhouse - hydroponics vs soil

If you query for salt domes or salt pans on Mars you will find articles about it.  Of course the interest would be Potassium Chloride.

Maybe there would be a small local salt deposit that could be mined for it.

One article even indicates that Oil is seeping out of a salt dome on Mars, but that is highly disputed that it is oil.

I will bother you with this one more time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l05knxG6eT0


If I were to make a suggestion....  At this time the flow of thought seems to favor gardens under diodes, and I am fine with that.

But what if you landed your habitat and wanted to put some shielding on it.  Perhaps you could place transparent bags of water over it, perhaps place reflective foil on the ground around it to increase the solar flux.  The grow some oil bearing organisms as a plankton.  I would suggest that over the bags should be a sheet of plastic with UV protectant on it.  Being bags of water they are shielding the habitat to a degree, and moderating it's temperature swings, and even insulating it.  The bags then being filled with water would have chances of moderating the thermal stress on the bags, buy being filled with water and by having a layer of plastic with UV protectant over them.

While plastic bags have been characterized in a fairly negative way in this thread,  the multiple simple utility of them as radiation protection and source of fish food/soil improver, may justify the cost of importing them from the beginning.

And if somehow oil could be extracted, I would suggest that tar be manufactured with solar concentrators, and that tar could then be used to make mineral wool panels impregnated and glued with tar.

In fact if I were to want to make huts inside of a ice tunnel, I would want structures built of that, and of course insulated with more mineral wool.

I also might say that even after water bags have deteriorated, it should be possible to recycle the material into a 3D printer to make useful parts.  This may also help to justify the importation of them.  But it would be best to be able to manufacture them on Mars asap, but I think that would be down the road a fair distance.


From that then either feed fish and put their droppings into the soil or simply put the plankton into the soil. 

The next step would be to seed the soil with Mushrooms to further improve it.

I hope you don't mind the suggestions.

Last edited by Void (2014-09-21 21:48:55)


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

Offline

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB