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#1 2019-11-18 19:34:16

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

I think the answer to this question is probably "a lot faster than you might think".

Of course, it will only happen quickly if that is your primary goal, and given even Musk is looking to ship millions of tons from Earth to Mars, I think that is unlikely to be the primary goal. For Musk I think the primary goal is to develop a BIG human settlement on Mars as soon as possible.

But if self-sufficiency were the goal then I think that in recent years it's become clear there are ways you can achieve that:

1. 3D printers have clearly revolutionised things. Even a very small community can produce a huge rang of manufactured products using 3D printers.

2. We now know that 3D printers can be used for construction not just manufactures.

3. 3D printers linked with industrial robots and CNC lathes will be powerful industrial tools.

4. It is clear that the materials being used in 3D printing are producing ever higher grades of product - achieving high standards of strength and precision.

5. Robot technology has advanced hugely in the last 20 years. Robots are now used in a lot of relevant fields like mining on Earth.

6.  Production of PV panels on Earth has become highly automated. These technologies can be transferred to Mars, so that PV Panel production could be achieved with largely automated processes.

7.  Various experiments on Earth and in space have shown that we will be able to grow food successfully on Mars.

8. We know that we will be able to produce both Mars bricks (with compression) and Mars concrete.

The key to achieving self-sufficiency quickly is to:  (a) create a minimal list of requirements in all areas whether it's transport, furniture, kitchen goods or whatever and to always favour the simple approach over the complex and (b) to produce a micro-plan of how you will produce the full range of items that allows you to support life, produce goods and grow food.

Given that a single mission to Mars can deliver 500 tons, I think it is not unreasonable to think that it would be possible to make Mars essentially self-sufficient within 8-10 years (by which time you might have delivered a total of 5000 tons to Mars).

You might end up with 1000 tons devoted to 3D printers, industrial robots, CNC lathes.  Maybe you'd have 500 tons devoted to materials processing. Another 500 tons devoted to propellant production. Perhaps 200 tons focussed on  producing PV panels. There might be 500 tons of automated indoor farm habs. Maybe 1000 tons for mining.

The other key of course is frugality as an economic principle. Your Mars inhabitants don't require private transport or extensive wardrobes.  They don't need paper for newspapers.  They won't need complicated packaging for food. Food will be provided centrally for consumption, obviating the need for packaging. They won't need 200 deodorant products or 300 different bottle shapes. Everything will be produced in limited ranges.

Production will be focussed on propellant, rockets, rovers, habs, hab furnishings, life support systems, agriculture, computer software and hardware, recycling...

I think it would be possible to make Mars 100% self-suffiicent within 10 years but I don't think that is necessary or desirable. A slower path to self-sufficiency would be more sensible. There are other goals to pursue e.g. making Mars an attractive place for humans to live (which implies importing the little luxuries and the advanced technical equipment which will help us achieve that goal).

A goal of perhaps 95% self-sufficiency (by mass) within 50 years might be more sensible.


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

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#2 2019-11-18 19:43:13

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Just to give some context to what it means to be "self-sufficient": Amazon US sells 606 million products and a Boeing 747 plane has over 6 million parts.

So we are clearly talking about self-sufficiency implying an ability to produce and assemble millions of products or parts, probably tens of millions.  A ball park figure: I am guessing we'd need about 10 million items to achieve self-sufficiency.

These would all need to be indexed and, for each product or part, digital designs would need to be produced and production plans set out.


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

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#3 2019-11-19 05:04:14

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

I'm thinking here of a self-sustaining settlement (with the exception of interplanetary travel at this stage) made up of 2000 residents, growing at 200 residents per annum. To give you an idea of what that might mean in terms of food, that would mean producing about 3 tons of food per sol.  In terms of energy production, that would depend on how many were permanent residents. Assuming most people were still returning to Earth after stays of 2-6 years, that would mean something like 25 MW average power (to produce enough energy for propellant production in the main). The more people stay on Mars permanently, then proportionately the energy consumption per capita can drop significantly.

Probably helps to think in terms of the "Mars Starter Pack" - how you would use the first 5000 tons delivered to Mars over the first ten years (the numbers in brackets are my guesstimate for full time equivalent staff required to undertake the tasks involved):

- A range of habs to be delivered.

- Large PV electricity generation facility. (10)

- Robot rover mining fleet. (30)

- Materials processing centre  (30)

- Major 3D printer facility - probably with something like 200 3D printers including maybe 3 very large ones.  (50)

- Steel manufacture facility. (10)

- Glass manufacturing facility (4) 

- Brick and cement facility (10)

- Fibre glass and basalt processing. (5)

- Agricultural habs (mostly indoor and artificially lit but some low CO2 pressure natural light domes).  (100)

- Robotised recyling facility (10)

- Computer production centre (software and hardware) (50)

- Electrical, electronics and coms production centre (50)

- Hab fittings and life support production facility.  (50)

- Rocket and satellite production facility/launch facility. (100) [I am thinking mostly rocket hoppers and small rockets to orbit at this stage.]

- Communications operational centre (30)

- Machine replication plant (capable of producing all of the industrial machinery involved in the above).  (200)

- Construction centre (hab construction from ISRU materials, tunnelled spaces, air lock manufacture, aerogel manufacture) (200)

- Rover manufacture and maintenance centre (50)

That would be 989 full time equivalent personnel in total for a 2000 person colony. So the other 1000 plus people could do the science, the exploration and the other activities that would bring in revenue and also service the workers (e.g. health services, food processing and so on).


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

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#4 2019-11-19 07:18:37

tahanson43206
Member
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 2,561

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Go Louis!

Yay!

Please continue developing your ideas in greater detail!  You have local (forum) resources to help you if you can enlist them.

Those 20 people you have allocated for manufacture of steel will be doing very specific activities, which (if you can get help) can be identified.

This vision needs more people working in the forum.  There are billions of people on Earth right now, and millions have access to this forum. 

The only real contributor who has shown up in the past year has been Calliban.  We've had too many spam artists to count.

It should be possible to attract more real contributors than just one in a year.

Reaching outside the forum would seem advisable.

(th)

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#5 2019-11-19 11:07:55

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

They are guesstimates based partly on my personal knowledge of some processes, things I've picked up from previous research, some rules of thumb and some reasonable assumptions.

This article reports that in Austria there are just 14 employees producing 500,000 tons of steel a year! :

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles … in-austria

That might make my estimate look like a huge overestimate but...

Probably 3 will be watching the computer screens that monitor the processes.  You then have to think of shift work...you might want to be running the plant round the clock or over two shifts...so the 3 will become 9 or 12.

The Austrian plant only produces steel wire whereas the Mars plant will have to produce the full range of steel products (girders, bars, wire, plate) which I think will add complexity and increasing staffing requirements for handling, packaging and so on. So I think my estimate of 30 might not be far off.

The whole plant might only be producing something between 2000 and 10,000 tons of steel per (Earth) annum but it will be a complex operation for a small plant.

On reaching out, I think the only places I have seen equivalent detailed discussion of Mars colonisation is on Reddit Space X forums and on humanmars.net

A few links placed on those might help.


tahanson43206 wrote:

Go Louis!

Yay!

Please continue developing your ideas in greater detail!  You have local (forum) resources to help you if you can enlist them.

Those 20 people you have allocated for manufacture of steel will be doing very specific activities, which (if you can get help) can be identified.

This vision needs more people working in the forum.  There are billions of people on Earth right now, and millions have access to this forum. 

The only real contributor who has shown up in the past year has been Calliban.  We've had too many spam artists to count.

It should be possible to attract more real contributors than just one in a year.

Reaching outside the forum would seem advisable.

(th)


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

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#6 2019-11-19 12:32:03

elderflower
Member
Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 1,219

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

This plant may be using a lot of scrap iron and steel as feedstock.  Not sure 'cos Bloomberg's website didn't want to talk to me. And my German is limited to Zwei bier bitte kind of thing so I can't tell from Voest Alpine Stahl's site.
It does seem to manufacture strip and wire and plate, not hot rolled sections or pipe, but strip and plate can be cut and welded to make structural materials.

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#7 2019-11-19 13:41:41

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Thanks for the clarification. I expect a Mars plant would also be using a lot of scrap - in particular the steel from the abandoned Starships that are not needed for a return journey. Thereafter I would expect recycling of steel to be in the region of 95%.

elderflower wrote:

This plant may be using a lot of scrap iron and steel as feedstock.  Not sure 'cos Bloomberg's website didn't want to talk to me. And my German is limited to Zwei bier bitte kind of thing so I can't tell from Voest Alpine Stahl's site.
It does seem to manufacture strip and wire and plate, not hot rolled sections or pipe, but strip and plate can be cut and welded to make structural materials.


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

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#8 2019-11-19 13:54:26

tahanson43206
Member
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 2,561

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

For Louis re #7

Your estimate of 95% recycling is interesting.

Please develop that thought a bit, if you have time.

There are various scenarios possible, with varying levels of recycling.

(th)

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#9 2019-11-19 15:46:44

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Mars economics will be different from those on Earth.  Certainly recycling on Mars will make more financial sense than importing from Earth via expensive rocket transport, even if that means you have to have very detailed stripping down of end of life products. Incineration of waste will be less attractive on Mars than on Earth because on Mars we will have to manufacture  the oxygen to achieve combustion - no freely available oxygen as on Earth.  Of course we could (and certainly will) mine materials on Mars but given the problems and resource implications of operating in a near vacuum and possibly over long distances, again recycling will likely prove the more economic option.

Another factor will be that everything on Mars will be designed to make recycling easier. I think there will be a highly level of robotisation in the recycling facility. There will likely be barcoding of all products to aid accurate sorting. All rubbish and waste bins will allow for sorting of waste. The range of glass receptacles will be limited to allow for greater re-use.

So that's why I am thinking the recycling rate will be closer to 95% than 50%.

tahanson43206 wrote:

For Louis re #7

Your estimate of 95% recycling is interesting.

Please develop that thought a bit, if you have time.

There are various scenarios possible, with varying levels of recycling.

(th)


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

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#10 2019-11-19 17:40:43

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 18,555

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Post 1 replies

since when is a single trip delivering 500mT to mars?
Its actually mission 1 a dual clone payload (2 cargo starships) of each other, mission 2 would deliver other stuff but there is most likely some dual clone items even in this shipment (2 more cargo starships) for these as we still may not be confindent of landings.
Now mission 1 or 2 could have a single crewed starship but most feel that we should have a working ISPP plant before sending any crews so that would mean a mission 2 only choice to send with the cargo landers. At this point we are only at 400mT unless the fist mission is a triple cargo....

If we are sending items 1-4 we will need to send equipment to make the INSITU materials into the feed stock for use as what we can send with them will run out before we can make enough stuff that we need with them.
The same quest for 5-8 is the equipment must be in the payloads to be able to even think of insitu solar panels. Building of robots are automations for assembly lines these are fixed function and really are not robots as these are machines.

Post 3 is a very nice list of what we want to do but where are the tonnage numbers coming from and what will we put them in to make use of them? I am not seeing the ISPP plant, Power plant storage, battery manufacturing plant.....

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#11 2019-11-19 18:38:17

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

The phrase I used was "single mission " not "single trip". 

The first mission to Mars proposed by Space X involves delivering about 500 tons to Mars - using six Starships over two launch windows.

To take 3D printers, I am assuming we are going to send several hundred tons of them to Mars over a ten year period.  These printers will likely have a life of at least 20 years with maintenance and repairs.  They aren't going to suddenly stop working. As for the feedstock - yes, they will need an initial feedstock, but remember the initial settlement will be tiny...maybe 6 people on the first mission...probably no more than 50 after the third...The feedstock requirements will be tiny. Meanwhile you are putting in place your robot mining operations...which will be yielding way more material that can be used as feedstock.

I was including propellant production under materials processing. It will likely dominate materials processing for many years but obviously there will be lots more chemicals and gases to be refined.

Battery production could certainly be a separate entry. But in terms of self-sufficiency on Mars, as long as you have propellant production - methane and oxygen - you have energy storage (assuming you have methane/oxygen generators). So battery production will be important for things like rovers but not perhaps as important as you are assuming. 

SpaceNut wrote:

Post 1 replies

since when is a single trip delivering 500mT to mars?
Its actually mission 1 a dual clone payload (2 cargo starships) of each other, mission 2 would deliver other stuff but there is most likely some dual clone items even in this shipment (2 more cargo starships) for these as we still may not be confindent of landings.
Now mission 1 or 2 could have a single crewed starship but most feel that we should have a working ISPP plant before sending any crews so that would mean a mission 2 only choice to send with the cargo landers. At this point we are only at 400mT unless the fist mission is a triple cargo....

If we are sending items 1-4 we will need to send equipment to make the INSITU materials into the feed stock for use as what we can send with them will run out before we can make enough stuff that we need with them.
The same quest for 5-8 is the equipment must be in the payloads to be able to even think of insitu solar panels. Building of robots are automations for assembly lines these are fixed function and really are not robots as these are machines.

Post 3 is a very nice list of what we want to do but where are the tonnage numbers coming from and what will we put them in to make use of them? I am not seeing the ISPP plant, Power plant storage, battery manufacturing plant.....


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

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#12 2019-11-19 19:29:38

tahanson43206
Member
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 2,561

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

For Louis re #9

Thank you for your reply.

I was unsure of what you were measuring.

May I offer a refinement of your approach?

To my way of thinking, recycling will approach 100% for anything that goes into service in the Mars economy.

For something to be discarded as unusable, it might be lost through leaky seals (gas or liquid), or it might be something like radioactive waste.

Otherwise, I would expect that any atoms put to service for any purpose will be recovered for reuse.

After all, that is precisely what Nature does on Earth.  Losses to the Universe (apparently do occur) but otherwise, everything is recycled.

If you were measuring the proportion of reused to newly mined materials, then I can see the 95% figure as a reasonable guess.

At first, "mining" of CO2 will occur as a first order of business, as you and others have stated.

Collecting of water is another high priority, but (it seems to me) once water is collected, it will be preserved as much as possible, so I would look for close to 100% recycling of that commodity.

(th)

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#13 2019-11-19 19:37:27

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 18,555

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Ah a launch window cycle is a mission of 1 but that means 3 cargo on first mission cycle ending in a landing makes a mission. Then on 2nd mission cycle there are 2 cargo and 1 crewed.....that does get to 500 mT but the first 3 cargo ships due to not having a good understanding on landings will be a duplicate of each other for a lose of ship or ships in landing. With the next question is what are the odds of failure on the next launch cycle of any landing failures?

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#14 2019-11-19 19:53:38

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 18,555

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Would Current International Space Station (ISS) Recycling ...
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi … 007268.pdf

Developing an Advanced Life Support System for the rendezvous, or exploring Mars ...
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi … 036823.pdf

Living in Space - NASA Closing the Loop: Recycling Water and Air in Space 9–12 National Science Standards
https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/146558main_Rec … _10_06.pdf

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#15 2019-11-19 19:56:59

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

IIRC Space X are proposing two cargo landers in launch window A and 2 cargo landers plus 2 human landers in launch window B.

SpaceNut wrote:

Ah a launch window cycle is a mission of 1 but that means 3 cargo on first mission cycle ending in a landing makes a mission. Then on 2nd mission cycle there are 2 cargo and 1 crewed.....that does get to 500 mT but the first 3 cargo ships due to not having a good understanding on landings will be a duplicate of each other for a lose of ship or ships in landing. With the next question is what are the odds of failure on the next launch cycle of any landing failures?


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

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#16 2019-11-19 19:58:38

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

I think life support recycling is now a mature technology and would form part of everyday life on Mars.

The difference, compared with the ISS, is that on Mars we will have a resource base from which to produce water and various gases.

SpaceNut wrote:

Would Current International Space Station (ISS) Recycling ...
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi … 007268.pdf

Developing an Advanced Life Support System for the rendezvous, or exploring Mars ...
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi … 036823.pdf

Living in Space - NASA Closing the Loop: Recycling Water and Air in Space 9–12 National Science Standards
https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/146558main_Rec … _10_06.pdf


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

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#17 2019-11-19 22:10:29

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,452

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

I would focus on standardization of parts to reduce unique parts count and using abundant Carbon as the fabrication material of choice, in order to minimize the requirement for weight and energy-intensive metals mining and refining.  The use of metals for structural applications would be limited to fasteners (bolts / studs / screws) and heat or wear resistant parts (bearings / fuel cell plates / tools).

Since Mars has so much Carbon readily available, I would focus on CNT production.  The stuff is very lightweight, very strong, has excellent thermal resistance (remains pliable at moderately cryogenic temperatures and can withstand the heat of a blow torch), utterly unbelievable cut and abrasion resistance (or at least I've never seen anything else quite like it), and can resist electricity as well as plastic or conduct electricity as well as Copper (dependent upon how it's doped / used).  As such, it would serve admirably for most structural or electrical applications in the form of fabrics / reinforced plastics / composites and insulation / wiring.  This single material can be used for power cables, inflatable habitat modules, space suits, blimps for energy efficient cargo transport, rectifying antennas for wireless power transmission, composites for structural members such as I-beams or arches to permit burying of inflatable habitat modules beneath regolith to protect from radiation, vehicle chassis, and high pressure CFRP H2 / CH4 storage tanks for fuel cells, along with more mundane articles of civilization, such as toothbrushes, shoes, and furniture.

We need to efficiently strip C from O2 in a single step, so I would use Brilliant Light Power's EUV (Extreme UltraViolet light; high energy photons) device to do that.  Whether or not it produces any power, it's clearly producing stupid amounts of EUV that can cleave Carbon from Carbon Dioxide.  After we have pure atomically fine C, we need catalysts to transform the powder into CNT.  We'll take automated weaving looms to weave the roving into fabrics.  To make composites, we will require epoxies and plastics, which would begin life in the form of CH4 base stock.  Plastics and epoxies are mostly Carbon / Hydrogen / Oxygen, with Chlorine or Fluorine additives.  All of those elements are readily available in substantial quantities on Mars or Venus and various asteroids.

Batteries have short useful lives, stringent temperature and charge / discharge control requirements, require lots of technology plus energy to produce, and have exceptionally poor energy storage density per unit of weight.  As such, I specify the use of super capacitors and H2 fuel cells for vehicles and regenerative fuel cells for stationary power storage.  The water produced from electricity generation will be recycled using reverse fuel cells, thus reducing the requirement for water replenishment from limited supplies.

Iron Nitride permanent magnets will supplant traditional NdFeB / SmCo (Rare Earth) magnets used in motors / generators and for power transmission instead of traditional plastic or metal gearing.  Non-contact magnetic gearing also reduces the need for lubricants and radiators to dissipate heat generated from friction.  Since this technology is already in use in a handful of electric cars and is currently undergoing experimentation in small helicopters as a lighter weight / smoother / more durable replacement for traditional metal gear boxes connecting gas turbines to rotor shafts, I consider it ready for prime time.  It's expensive, but it works well and lasts longer than metal-on-metal.

Anyway, using fewer construction and fabrication materials having the widest range of practical uses will minimize the amount of time / money / manpower / technology / effort required to re-create a technologically advanced human society on another planet.  Fortunately, we can apply thoroughly understood technologies and principles to this effort.  No new technology is required here, just the best technology that we currently have for given use cases.

Making thin film solar panels on Mars, requires Copper / Indium / Gallium / Selenium, so those raw materials would have to be identified through geology studies to identify rich ores before they could be mined.  The Mylar substrate material would be much easier to come by.

I agree with Louis that simplicity is the key to making all of this work.  Use of technology is fine, so long as it's necessary for a given use case, thoroughly understood through extensive testing, and doesn't require effort beyond what a fledgling colony could reasonably devote to it.  Mining and smelting are very energy intensive processes, typically requiring massive machines to achieve decent production rates, so I would do everything possible to limit the requirement for metals.

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#18 2019-11-20 08:56:48

tahanson43206
Member
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 2,561

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

For kbd512 re #17

Your post came up first when I asked FluxBB for posts with the phrase "solar energy"

That's fine with me, because I hope you'll like the news reported in the article at the link below:
https://www.yahoo.com/news/2019-11-19-h … rough.html

Recently in another topic you mentioned Bill Gates, so I had to chuckle when his name showed up in the article.

The use of this technique in the context of the Mars venture might be limited to Phobos, but it should work well there despite the distance from the Sun.  It will take more photon collecting surface, to be sure, but at Phobos those collecting surfaces could be very light weight compared to what is required on the surface of the Earth.

The closing line about production of useful chemicals caught my eye, and hopefully it will stimulate thinking by forum contributors who are knowledgeable in the related disciplines.

(th)

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#19 2019-11-20 15:39:49

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Interesting that you think Brilliant Light has something that works! - they've always promised so much and delivered nothing...

One thing I would say is that we should remember this thread is about self-sufficiency for a few thousand people on Mars.  Any mining or smelting effort is going to be very small scale compared with on Earth. 

It's good you say that carbon could be used for electrical wiring - I assume you mean for conducting electricity? Because the relative absence of copper on Mars is an issue for self-sufficiency.


kbd512 wrote:

I would focus on standardization of parts to reduce unique parts count and using abundant Carbon as the fabrication material of choice, in order to minimize the requirement for weight and energy-intensive metals mining and refining.  The use of metals for structural applications would be limited to fasteners (bolts / studs / screws) and heat or wear resistant parts (bearings / fuel cell plates / tools).

Since Mars has so much Carbon readily available, I would focus on CNT production.  The stuff is very lightweight, very strong, has excellent thermal resistance (remains pliable at moderately cryogenic temperatures and can withstand the heat of a blow torch), utterly unbelievable cut and abrasion resistance (or at least I've never seen anything else quite like it), and can resist electricity as well as plastic or conduct electricity as well as Copper (dependent upon how it's doped / used).  As such, it would serve admirably for most structural or electrical applications in the form of fabrics / reinforced plastics / composites and insulation / wiring.  This single material can be used for power cables, inflatable habitat modules, space suits, blimps for energy efficient cargo transport, rectifying antennas for wireless power transmission, composites for structural members such as I-beams or arches to permit burying of inflatable habitat modules beneath regolith to protect from radiation, vehicle chassis, and high pressure CFRP H2 / CH4 storage tanks for fuel cells, along with more mundane articles of civilization, such as toothbrushes, shoes, and furniture.

We need to efficiently strip C from O2 in a single step, so I would use Brilliant Light Power's EUV (Extreme UltraViolet light; high energy photons) device to do that.  Whether or not it produces any power, it's clearly producing stupid amounts of EUV that can cleave Carbon from Carbon Dioxide.  After we have pure atomically fine C, we need catalysts to transform the powder into CNT.  We'll take automated weaving looms to weave the roving into fabrics.  To make composites, we will require epoxies and plastics, which would begin life in the form of CH4 base stock.  Plastics and epoxies are mostly Carbon / Hydrogen / Oxygen, with Chlorine or Fluorine additives.  All of those elements are readily available in substantial quantities on Mars or Venus and various asteroids.

Batteries have short useful lives, stringent temperature and charge / discharge control requirements, require lots of technology plus energy to produce, and have exceptionally poor energy storage density per unit of weight.  As such, I specify the use of super capacitors and H2 fuel cells for vehicles and regenerative fuel cells for stationary power storage.  The water produced from electricity generation will be recycled using reverse fuel cells, thus reducing the requirement for water replenishment from limited supplies.

Iron Nitride permanent magnets will supplant traditional NdFeB / SmCo (Rare Earth) magnets used in motors / generators and for power transmission instead of traditional plastic or metal gearing.  Non-contact magnetic gearing also reduces the need for lubricants and radiators to dissipate heat generated from friction.  Since this technology is already in use in a handful of electric cars and is currently undergoing experimentation in small helicopters as a lighter weight / smoother / more durable replacement for traditional metal gear boxes connecting gas turbines to rotor shafts, I consider it ready for prime time.  It's expensive, but it works well and lasts longer than metal-on-metal.

Anyway, using fewer construction and fabrication materials having the widest range of practical uses will minimize the amount of time / money / manpower / technology / effort required to re-create a technologically advanced human society on another planet.  Fortunately, we can apply thoroughly understood technologies and principles to this effort.  No new technology is required here, just the best technology that we currently have for given use cases.

Making thin film solar panels on Mars, requires Copper / Indium / Gallium / Selenium, so those raw materials would have to be identified through geology studies to identify rich ores before they could be mined.  The Mylar substrate material would be much easier to come by.

I agree with Louis that simplicity is the key to making all of this work.  Use of technology is fine, so long as it's necessary for a given use case, thoroughly understood through extensive testing, and doesn't require effort beyond what a fledgling colony could reasonably devote to it.  Mining and smelting are very energy intensive processes, typically requiring massive machines to achieve decent production rates, so I would do everything possible to limit the requirement for metals.


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

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#20 2019-11-20 18:53:57

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 18,555

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

For man you must have a creation rate for water, oxygen, power, food and storage capacity plus structural building to house for any of these such that it is higher than the consumption rate of any of these to be able to build up a surplus for later use. Meet and exceed these and you will be sustainable and sufficient.

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#21 2019-11-20 20:43:40

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,452

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Louis,

BLP has promised to deliver power, but they haven't been able to convert EUV into electricity.  Unfortunately for them, the photovoltaic cells for that are still rather experimental in nature.  There are some lab devices that do it at low efficiency, but that's about it.  Thankfully, we don't need to figure out how to convert EUV into electrical power.  So far as I know, their device consumes power and produces enough EUV to turn Tungsten into white hot goo.  I presume it could also be used to smelt small quantities of ores.

Yes, doped CNT wiring can conduct electricity as well as Copper.  NASA paid DexMat a lot of money to figure out how to do that.  DexMat makes conductive CNT tapes for EMI shielding of data cables used in aircraft and spacecraft sensors and avionics.  It's currently being used in both commercial and military satellites and aircraft- applications where increased operational cost is directly attributable to excess weight.  Replacement of the conductor as well as shielding / insulator could yield a mass savings of 80% over traditional wiring.  For applications where you have lots of wiring, such as power cables or electric motors / generators, it's easy to see how this can drastically reduce the weight of the machine.  Coated / doped Aramid fibers are also capable of similarly dramatic mass reductions, though not quite to the same level as CNT.  If it's not apparent, using CNT for conductors and shielding reduces the mass of data cable, for equivalent performance, by about 5.3 times.  Since every machine has a computer and a plethora of sensors in it these days, that's increasingly important.

When the engines of aircraft and spacecraft vibrate those vehicles, the wiring inside them also vibrates, hence the need to isolate wiring runs or to provide strain relief to prevent the conductors from breaking due to work hardening of the metal conductor.  This is a problem common to both Copper and Aluminum conductors, as vibration can quickly work harden those metals to the point that they will break.  That vibration doesn't meaningfully affect the mechanical strength of elastic fibers such as CNT.  It takes an enormous number of cycles for CNT fibers to fail when compared to thin strands of metal wiring with equivalent weight and electrical conductivity.

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#22 2019-11-20 22:47:17

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 18,555

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

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#23 2019-11-21 04:36:51

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,788

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Great to know we have a solution to the copper wiring problem!

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

BLP has promised to deliver power, but they haven't been able to convert EUV into electricity.  Unfortunately for them, the photovoltaic cells for that are still rather experimental in nature.  There are some lab devices that do it at low efficiency, but that's about it.  Thankfully, we don't need to figure out how to convert EUV into electrical power.  So far as I know, their device consumes power and produces enough EUV to turn Tungsten into white hot goo.  I presume it could also be used to smelt small quantities of ores.

Yes, doped CNT wiring can conduct electricity as well as Copper.  NASA paid DexMat a lot of money to figure out how to do that.  DexMat makes conductive CNT tapes for EMI shielding of data cables used in aircraft and spacecraft sensors and avionics.  It's currently being used in both commercial and military satellites and aircraft- applications where increased operational cost is directly attributable to excess weight.  Replacement of the conductor as well as shielding / insulator could yield a mass savings of 80% over traditional wiring.  For applications where you have lots of wiring, such as power cables or electric motors / generators, it's easy to see how this can drastically reduce the weight of the machine.  Coated / doped Aramid fibers are also capable of similarly dramatic mass reductions, though not quite to the same level as CNT.  If it's not apparent, using CNT for conductors and shielding reduces the mass of data cable, for equivalent performance, by about 5.3 times.  Since every machine has a computer and a plethora of sensors in it these days, that's increasingly important.

When the engines of aircraft and spacecraft vibrate those vehicles, the wiring inside them also vibrates, hence the need to isolate wiring runs or to provide strain relief to prevent the conductors from breaking due to work hardening of the metal conductor.  This is a problem common to both Copper and Aluminum conductors, as vibration can quickly work harden those metals to the point that they will break.  That vibration doesn't meaningfully affect the mechanical strength of elastic fibers such as CNT.  It takes an enormous number of cycles for CNT fibers to fail when compared to thin strands of metal wiring with equivalent weight and electrical conductivity.


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

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#24 2019-11-21 16:48:57

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,929
Website

Re: How quickly could you build a self-sufficient community on Mars?

Mars is a planet. There should be copper ore. Where does copper ore occur on Earth? Deep sea mining extracts polymetallic nodules at a depth of 4,000 – 6,000 m. That's composed of nickel, copper, cobalt, and manganese. Nickel and cobalt are magnetic, could we send an unmanned rover to the dried-up ocean basic to sift surface materials for magnetic nodules?

Polymetallic nodules

Polymetallic nodules, also called manganese nodules, are rock concretions on the sea bottom formed of concentric layers of iron and manganese hydroxides around a core. As nodules can be found in vast quantities, and contain valuable metals, deposits have been identified as having economic interest.

Nodules vary in size from tiny particles visible only under a microscope to large pellets more than 20 centimetres (8 in) across. However, most nodules are between 3 and 10 cm (1 and 4 in) in diameter, about the size of hen's eggs or potatoes. Their surface textures vary from smooth to rough. They frequently have botryoidal (mammilated or knobby) texture and vary from spherical in shape to typically oblate, sometimes prolate, or are otherwise irregular. The bottom surface, buried in sediment, is generally rougher than the top due to a different type of growth.

Nodules lie on the seabed sediment, often partly or completely buried. They vary greatly in abundance, in some cases touching one another and covering more than 70% of the sea floor. The total amount of polymetallic nodules on the sea floor was estimated at 500 billion tons by Alan A. Archer of the London Geological Museum in 1981.

Polymetallic nodules are found in both shallow (e.g. the Baltic Sea) and deeper waters (e.g. the central Pacific), even in lakes,[citation needed] and are thought to have been a feature of the seas and oceans at least since the deep oceans oxidised in the Ediacaran period over 540 million years ago.

Polymetallic nodules were discovered in 1868 in the Kara Sea, in the Arctic Ocean of Siberia. During the scientific expeditions of HMS Challenger (1872–1876), they were found to occur in most oceans of the world.

In 2016, Spirit found alunite in Cross crater. Evidence for acidic, sulfurous waters. A good place to prospect for copper ore.

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