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 2016-06-15 04:28:22

RobertDyck
Member
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,409
Website

Re: Power generation on Mars

Yesterday I saw a TV show called "How It's Made". They go through the manufacturing process. A lot of detail is skipped, but it's interesting. This episode covered CCD image sensors. That made me think of photovoltaic cells (solar cells) for power generation on Mars. I've read about how they're made, but this video shows it.

The full episode is available here: How It's Made - CCD Semiconductors - Airline Meals - Paper Cups - Trumpets
It's 20:47 in length (20 minutes, 47 seconds) and includes those other things. But includes the voice of the Canadian narrator for shows that air here in Canada.

Just the section about CCD is available here: How It's Made CCD Semiconductors
It's 5 minutes long. A different narrator, I think American, but exactly the same script and same video. It's actually at least 8 years old, but shows how electronics are made.

When the episode started I had hopes we would see how to make electronics, or at least photovoltaics, in a practical way. Perhaps not. Equipment and chemicals still look like it'll be a long time before we can do this on Mars.

Offline

#77 2016-06-17 19:32:17

RobertDyck
Member
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,409
Website

Offline

#78 2016-06-17 19:40:18

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,211

Re: Power generation on Mars

The processes that are used in many a building technique is vapor deposition of the materials onto the substrate which then is dried then sprayed with a masking agent to which a photographic image is is created then etched away to then vapor deposit the next layer and so forth until the junctions are made between the electrical contacts.....
Fabrication of efficient planar perovskite solar cells using a one-step chemical vapor deposition method

https://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/12274544

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20100002254

Offline

#79 2016-07-05 04:03:13

elderflower
Member
Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 825

Re: Power generation on Mars

C M Edwards wrote:

I should point out that few to none of the reactors previously launched into space (the numbers are skewed by varying degrees of secrecy) have been capable of more than 10kW, and none exceeding 2kW are known to have lasted more than 6 months.

Check out a rough list of known reactors in orbit here:

http://www.globenet.free-online.co.uk/ianus/npsm1.htm

Solar arrays can be built with these outputs, and with better reliability.

CME

I believe these were isotope generators, rather than critical nuclear reactors. The output of the latter would be measured in megawatts.

Offline

#80 2016-07-09 11:55:43

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,211

Re: Power generation on Mars

Isotope generators are simular to the cold fusion topics of the E-Cat and LNRL research that has been going on for some time now. The issue for mars is colllecting and processing the isotope to the stage to make these devices work....

Offline

#81 2016-07-10 13:24:41

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 3,078
Website

Re: Power generation on Mars

I read an article in the latest issue of AAAS's journal "Science" about high-efficiency perovskite PV cells.  Up to now,  the nominal 20% efficiency (that everybody ballyhoos) goes with dimensions on the order of a mm or two (something kept quiet).  Bigger simply would not work efficiently,  for reasons outside what I know and understand.  This latest article showed a 20% efficiency result for a perovskite cell of 1 cm dimensions,  formed with a vapor deposition process.  It still doesn't work any larger than that,  which is what we really need for a proper piece of equipment:  2-5 cm dimension. 

What that goes to prove is what I have long contended:  there is a vast gulf between what can be demonstrated in a science lab,  and what is actually needed for a piece of equipment that really works under field conditions.  Science lab results papers are overoptimistic,  being intended to generate more grant monies,  not to sell working hardware.  Too many folks forget,  or never knew,  that. 

20% efficient perovskite PV cells of 2-5 cm dimension will soon exist,  but not soon enough to go to Mars the first time.  There's usually around 5-25 years between a favorable lab result and a working piece of field equipment.  In today's economic environment,  I'd bet on the 25 years more than the 5 years. 

I think you'd be more realistic looking at silicon PV cells of 6-12% efficiency (6% civilian,  12% military/space and very expensive),  or perhaps the ~5% efficient flexible polymer PV materials.  I'd only look at the polymer if there was some reason to believe a plastic would survive in space conditions.  Most plastics do not do well in vacuum and temperature extremes,  or with harsh radiation. 

GW

Last edited by GW Johnson (2016-07-10 13:27:03)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

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

Offline

#82 2016-08-06 16:21:06

elderflower
Member
Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 825

Re: Power generation on Mars

It seems to have been established recently that water is pretty common on Mars. If it proves to have the same isotopic composition as that reported so far, deuterium will be abundant and can be separated by electrolysis, which I expect  is going to be done anyway, to generate oxygen and hydrogen. This by product heavy water is just what is needed for a Candu or similar reactor. A heavy water moderated reactor can burn Uranium or Thorium fuel with a much lower degree of enrichment than other reactor types. They are not so popular on earth due to the expense of the heavy water that they require and due to their production of tritium which can be used in Hydrogen weapons (and is toxic because of its short half life). With abundant heavy water and the ability to freeze the tritiated waste this should not be a problem on Mars and the risks of shipping fuel from earth would be much reduced by reason of its low enrichment.

Offline

#83 2017-01-14 21:27:42

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,211

Re: Power generation on Mars

Offline

#84 2017-11-12 11:12:20

knightdepaix
Member
Registered: 2014-07-07
Posts: 121

Re: Power generation on Mars

A minute question, does the power generation by current nuclear fission technology on Earth generate lots of neutron in its fission reactions?

Offline

#85 2017-11-12 14:41:56

JoshNH4H
Moderator
From: New York, NY, USA, Earth, Sol
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,314
Website

Re: Power generation on Mars

All nuclear fission energy generates substantial amounts of neutrons


-Josh

Offline

#86 2017-11-14 11:34:32

elderflower
Member
Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 825

Re: Power generation on Mars

Excess neutrons are essential to compensate for losses of neutrons from the reaction. Otherwise the reaction would die down instead of being a chain reaction. The excess of neutrons over losses is absorbed to stabilise the reaction at the desired level so that it neither runs away leading to meltdown, nor dies out from loss of too many neutrons.

Offline

#87 2017-11-14 16:37:17

Antius
Member
From: Cumbria, UK
Registered: 2007-05-22
Posts: 1,003

Re: Power generation on Mars

The number of neutrons yielded by fission increases with incident neutron energy.  This is why breeder reactors tend to be fast reactors.

Offline

#88 2017-11-14 17:39:43

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,813

Re: Power generation on Mars

If you bury the reactor in the ground, much of the neutron radiation can be attenuated using enough regolith, although gamma remains particularly problematic.  Some shielding is always required to protect electronics and proper shielding is mandatory for personnel to be able to work near an operating reactor.  Some recent work has been done on using metal foams to replace the prototypical mix of high-Z (Pb, W, DU, etc) / low-Z (H, B, Be, etc) value materials to shield against both gamma and neutron radiation, respectively.  The materials are Tungsten impregnated stainless steel foams that apparently weigh no more than plain stainless steel foam.  It's pretty interesting stuff and drastically cuts down on the weight of the shielding.

You can read about it here:

Attenuation efficiency of X-ray and comparison to gamma ray and neutrons in composite metal foams

Offline

#89 2017-11-14 18:26:42

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,211

Re: Power generation on Mars

316 L Stainless steel Type is an austenitic chromium-nickel stainless steel containing molybdenum. 
http://www.aksteel.com/pdf/markets_prod … _Sheet.pdf

Found this nicely put together chemistry table with Symbols Used in Nuclear Chemistry http://www.kentchemistry.com/newRT.pdf

I can see getting rid of the Pb (Lead) and W (Tungsten) as that is heavy for the lighter combination of Boron and Beryllium.

Offline

#90 2018-02-19 15:01:27

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,211

Re: Power generation on Mars

The order to which power in terms of quantity is a combinations of solar, nuclear with chemical battery and compressed gas storage to provide for a crews survival. To which the topics of food, shelter, water are at the other end of the scale for a crews ability to go and comback safely.
The need to grow the landing location from the very first until the next is a must not only for the science but for the colonization of mars.
Which is the need for growing power as well as all the other resources that we need. Its a planned contruction that will be needed some from insitu and other parts supplied.

Offline

#91 2018-02-21 17:43:10

knightdepaix
Member
Registered: 2014-07-07
Posts: 121

Re: Power generation on Mars

How useful would photon upconversion be useful for recycling waster energy such as thermal, geothermal or nuclear in infrared to artificial visible and ultraviolet rays?Can Lanthanide or nickel oxides be useful in that role?

Offline

#92 2018-02-23 04:48:37

elderflower
Member
Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 825

Re: Power generation on Mars

Burying a reactor might raise questions of soil stability if the permafrost is extensive. Even a little waste heat would tend to drive ice out of the local regolith leading to collapse. You have to do a lot of site investigation before you do this.

Offline

#93 2018-02-27 08:28:42

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,235

Re: Power generation on Mars

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Mo … 02187.html

"NuScale

NuScale's self-contained 50 MWe integral pressurised water reactor design houses the reactor core, pressuriser and steam generator inside a single containment vessel. A power plant could include up to 12 power modules, each 25 metres in length, 4.6m in diameter and weighing around 450 tonnes. Each module incorporates simple, redundant, diverse, and independent safety features.
The company in December 2016 applied for US regulatory design certification. The first commercial 12-module power plant, which will be owned by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems and run by an experienced nuclear operator, Energy Northwest, is planned for construction on land owned by the US Department of Energy at the Idaho National Laboratory. It intends to apply for generic design assessment in the UK.
eVinci

Westinghouse is developing the eVinci micro reactor as a small nuclear energy generator for decentralised generation markets, such as remote communities, or arctic mines. The company says the reactor design is a combination of nuclear fission, space reactor technologies and over 50 years of commercial nuclear systems design, engineering and innovation.
The reactor has a solid core, built around a solid steel monolith with channels for fuel pellets and heat pipes that remove heat from the core, and has minimal moving parts. Fuel is encapsulated in the core, which the company says significantly reduces proliferation risk and enhances overall safety for the user. The heat pipes enable passive core heat extraction and inherent power regulation, allowing autonomous operation and inherent load following capabilities.

The reactor is designed to run for more than ten years without refuelling. It can provide combined heat and power from 200 kWe to 25 MWe, and process heat up to 600 degrees Celsius.

Westinghouse said in October last year it aims to develop and demonstrate the eVinci reactor in less than six years, a timescale it says is possible primarily due to the small size and high technology readiness level of the individual components. The company plans to develop a full-scale electrical demonstration unit to reduce technology gaps and demonstrate manufacturability by 2019, and aims to qualify the eVinci micro reactor for commercial deployment by 2024."

Offline

#94 2018-02-27 14:53:18

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,590

Re: Power generation on Mars

Interesting proof of concept...thermal resonator, generating electricity from temperature differentials in the environment.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ … y-air.html

I wonder whether Mars might be quite a good environment for such a device, given the huge temperature differentials there.


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

Offline

#95 2018-02-27 21:21:53

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,211

Re: Power generation on Mars

The foam was then infused with a kind of wax called octadecane, which changes between solid and liquid within a particular range of temperatures.
A proof of concept sample of the material produced 350 millivolts of potential energy and 1.3 milliwatts of power in response to a 10°C (18°F) change of temperature between night and day.

Dissimular metals with a twist at each junction with each having different temperature inputs at each. If more junctions are created in series the voltage goes up with the curent being a function of the metal types and temperature differential.
I recall this science experiment in high school being a bunsun burner at 1 junction and Ice water at the other to create power.

Offline

#96 2018-02-28 03:49:39

elderflower
Member
Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 825

Re: Power generation on Mars

This is also how temperature measuring thermocouples work. Little electric refrigerators/coolers work by reversing the current to carry heat away from the junctions, larger ones are generally compression type. I once had a little Peltier cooler, it was quite impressive and could manage a delta T of about 20C in the shade.

Offline

#97 2018-03-01 23:08:20

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,211

Re: Power generation on Mars

Permanent Magnets are not only for making motors but also for generators. So when we do begin to create from insitu materials we will need to add to how we will produce power.

http://www.elkraft.ntnu.no/eno/Papers20 … thesis.pdf

Offline

#98 2018-03-02 06:26:02

Antius
Member
From: Cumbria, UK
Registered: 2007-05-22
Posts: 1,003

Re: Power generation on Mars

"NuScale's self-contained 50 MWe integral pressurised water reactor design houses the reactor core, pressuriser and steam generator inside a single containment vessel. A power plant could include up to 12 power modules, each 25 metres in length, 4.6m in diameter and weighing around 450 tonnes. Each module incorporates simple, redundant, diverse, and independent safety features."

If Musk realises his ambitions of a city of a million people on Mars, those people will need to be fed using locally grown food.  That means pressurised greenhouses that will need to be heated to keep them above freezing.  One hundred megawatts of waste heat would go a long way towards achieving that.  If we assume that 100W of waste heat is needed per square metre of greenhouse and 100m2 of greenhouse feeds one person, then a city of a million people would need ten of these reactors to supply the heat needed to produce food.  They would also generate 500W of electric power per capita (4400kWh/year) which is about the minimum needed for an affluent lifestyle.

So in conclusion, a single Nuscale 50MW unit will support up to 100,000 people on Mars.  If the cost of shipping it to Mars is $100/kg, then transport costs would be $45million, or $450/person.  If purchase cost is $2000/kW for a mass produced unit, that's $100million per unit.  So total cost of $1450/colonist.  Quite affordable.

Offline

#99 2018-03-02 12:34:26

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 2,792
Website

Re: Power generation on Mars

They're probably going to need more than 500W/person. The world average power consumption per capita is 2000W, though this doesn't account for inefficiency in transforming from one form to another. For western Europe it's around 6000W; for America it's 11000W.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

Offline

#100 2018-03-02 16:32:39

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,590

Re: Power generation on Mars

With a single nuclear power unit serving a community of 100,000 I think you need to factor in a fair amount of tonnage for cabling.

Having looked at the figures, I believe a PV solution could match the mass requirements of a nuclear energy solution. 

I agree with Terraformer that the energy requirements of Mars residents will be pretty high - certainly higher than 500 Watts per person.  Mining, transport, agriculture and life support are going to be significant consumption factors.

Also, are you really going to have a community of 100,000 dependent on one energy source?  If the energy source fails, you have a catastrophe on your hands. Won't you need back up - possibly a doubling of your tonnage immediately.


Antius wrote:

"NuScale's self-contained 50 MWe integral pressurised water reactor design houses the reactor core, pressuriser and steam generator inside a single containment vessel. A power plant could include up to 12 power modules, each 25 metres in length, 4.6m in diameter and weighing around 450 tonnes. Each module incorporates simple, redundant, diverse, and independent safety features."

If Musk realises his ambitions of a city of a million people on Mars, those people will need to be fed using locally grown food.  That means pressurised greenhouses that will need to be heated to keep them above freezing.  One hundred megawatts of waste heat would go a long way towards achieving that.  If we assume that 100W of waste heat is needed per square metre of greenhouse and 100m2 of greenhouse feeds one person, then a city of a million people would need ten of these reactors to supply the heat needed to produce food.  They would also generate 500W of electric power per capita (4400kWh/year) which is about the minimum needed for an affluent lifestyle.

So in conclusion, a single Nuscale 50MW unit will support up to 100,000 people on Mars.  If the cost of shipping it to Mars is $100/kg, then transport costs would be $45million, or $450/person.  If purchase cost is $2000/kW for a mass produced unit, that's $100million per unit.  So total cost of $1450/colonist.  Quite affordable.


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

Offline

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB