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#1 2022-04-01 11:40:55

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 12,008

John Creighton Postings

My work with ancient posts (ca 2004) often brings me into contact with interesting contributions ...

John Creighton appears to be another Canadian who made substantial postings while he was active...

http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php … 418#p36418

The post above is about converting thermal energy (expressed as electromagnetic radiation) to useful energy.

That remains a subject of interest all these years later ....

I think we may well have at least one topic devoted to the subject.

In any case, John Creighton appears to be worth reading, if a forum reader has the time.

(th)

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#2 2022-04-01 13:50:22

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: John Creighton Postings

Does this relate to infrared PV panels?

https://www.sustainability-times.com/lo … -it-comes/

These panels could potentially produce useful radiation around the clock.

Whether that would be needed on Mars is an open question, given a large part of economic activity is going to be devoted to manufacturing methane and oxygen for rocket fuel (so a part of that output, maybe 10%,  could easily be diverted to energy storage and use in methox generators to produce electricity).


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

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#3 2022-04-01 15:14:50

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 6,228

Re: John Creighton Postings

Louis,

Let's say that over the 168.5PWh of energy consumed, 1/3rd was consumed during the night, or about 56PWh (5.6^16 Watt-hours).  The average nightly requirement (56PWh / 365) is then 153,424,657,534,246Wh/night, and 12,785,388,127,854Watts per hour if night is defined as 12 hours of the day.  If each thermo-radiative panel provides 50W/m^2, then 255,707,762,557m^2 of panel area are required, or 255,708km^2 or 505.7km per side.  That's a total panel area slightly larger than the State of Oregon.  Oregon is #9 in total land area, of all 50 US states.  The electrical resistance losses from such low power output devices will ensure that a significantly larger panel area is actually required.

Beyond that, this device still requires hot and cold reservoirs to function, which means thermal energy storage of some kind.  The linked document states as much on the very first page in the Abstract.  These panels would likely work a lot better on Mars than on Earth, but a purpose-built solar thermal energy storage system would still be more compact and lightweight.  That's also why we use hot rather than cold materials for thermal energy storage.  The media propagandizing job of asserting that we have a solar panel that can function at night is misinformation at best.  We have a Peltier device that produces a temperature delta between the two sides of the panel using ambient thermal energy.  After the temperature between both sides of the panel equilibrates, then what?

From the article:

“A regular solar cell generates power by absorbing sunlight, which causes a voltage to appear across the device and for current to flow. In these new devices, light is instead emitted and the current and voltage go in the opposite direction, but you still generate power,” the scientist elucidates.

Nothing was "elucidated", from my perspective.  The scientist in question merely explained that photon absorption can stimulate electron movement in a semiconductor, or photon emission can stimulate electron movement in a semiconductor.  For current and voltage to flow in the opposite direction, photons have to be emitted due to a temperature delta between the semiconductor and the environment.  The panel heats up the environment around it while casting off high energy photons, with the end result that electricity flows.

What is providing the temperature delta to stimulate photon emission?

Is it ambient temperature difference between both sides of the panel?

I believe that's called a Peltier device.  We normally use much hotter or colder temperatures for better efficiency, but this device is no different in operation.

“We were thinking, what if we took one of these devices and put it in a warm area and pointed it at the sky,” Munday explains.

Then you'd have another low-efficiency, low-output Peltier device that relies upon ambient temperature differences between the hot sink and cold sink to function.

Better yet, the new device can work by day as well if it is shielded from direct sunlight or pointed away from the sun.

Then you'd have a very low efficiency solar panel trapping even more heat between the ground and the panel.

“Because this new type of solar cell could potentially operate around the clock, it is an intriguing option to balance the power grid over the day-night cycle,” the university says.

Yes, a Peltier device could heat up your roof while the Sun is shining and cool it off when the Sun is not shining.  To what end?  The roof isn't hot enough during the day, so make it hotter?  What for?  To increase the energy required to cool off your home?

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#4 2022-04-01 16:38:21

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,218

Re: John Creighton Postings

On Mars, solar thermal power could exploit the relatively large diurnal temperature variations.  But we are still talking about low power density systems.  The power output is basically a function of the black body temperature of the panel when used as a radiator, multiplied by a conversion efficiency, which is a function of temperature difference.  It could be made to work as an energy system, only if embodied energy per m2 is low.  I had in mind simple flat plate dry clay radiator panels, carrying brine in polymer tubes as a heat transfer fluid.

The problem on Mars is that we need something like 100kW per capita just to keep people alive and fed and to mine and reduce the minerals needed to build the colony.
http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php … 51#p192051

To do that in an affordable way requires high power density energy systems.  The power requirements of living on Mars and growing enough food to eat are just ridiculous.  You would need acres of solar panels per capita.  There is no way that mass of panels can be imported from Earth.  A city of 1 million people, which is a fairly modest sized city by Earth standards, would need a power of 100GW.  That is obscene.  Even if most of that energy is low grade heat, it is still the equivalent of 30 large size nuclear reactors.  That is about two-thirds the generating capacity of the UK, a country of over 60 million people.  For a city of 1 million to afford that much generating capacity is a real challenge.  Fusion fission hybrid reactors might do it, if they were big enough.  I don't think solar arrays of any type can scale to the power output needed.  I struggle to think of what energy systems we can use to provide that much power at a cheap enough price.  Living on Mars is tough.  The energy requirements are beyond anything we are accustomed to here on Earth.

Last edited by Calliban (2022-04-01 16:54:56)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#5 2022-04-01 16:43:14

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: John Creighton Postings

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

Let's say that over the 168.5PWh of energy consumed, 1/3rd was consumed during the night, or about 56PWh (5.6^16 Watt-hours).  The average nightly requirement (56PWh / 365) is then 153,424,657,534,246Wh/night, and 12,785,388,127,854Watts per hour if night is defined as 12 hours of the day.  If each thermo-radiative panel provides 50W/m^2, then 255,707,762,557m^2 of panel area are required, or 255,708km^2 or 505.7km per side.  That's a total panel area slightly larger than the State of Oregon.  Oregon is #9 in total land area, of all 50 US states.  The electrical resistance losses from such low power output devices will ensure that a significantly larger panel area is actually required.

Are you talking about the US energy requirement? You don't make that clear...

Of course when you say land area you make it sound like an additional land area requirement, but presumably such devices could in theory be sited on rooftops which means there is no additional land requirement.

I don't think infrared panels are very practical but I think we should encourage innovation. Spending maybe 1% of your GDP on this sort of thing is a good idea in my view even if 99.9% of projects come to nothing.


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

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#6 2022-04-01 16:52:36

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 6,228

Re: John Creighton Postings

Calliban,

Yes, the diurnal temperature delta on Mars is significant, which is why I said this would work better on Mars than on Earth.  However, as you already pointed out, the per capita energy requirement is sky-high.  That basically makes this concept a passing scientific curiosity with no practical application for sustaining human civilization.  Low energy density systems are forever hamstrung by the quantity of embodied energy wrapped up in the equipment and all supporting power distribution infrastructure that they require to function at all.

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#7 2022-04-01 17:09:15

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,218

Re: John Creighton Postings

A few reality checks.  Nuclear systems become more mass efficient as they scale up.  If we could scale boiling water reactors to 2000MWe, they would require about 20 tonne of steel per average MWe.  Or 6 tonne per MWth.  If per capita power requirements are 0.1MW, and much of that can be heat, that works out at 600kg steel per capita. 
https://fhr.nuc.berkeley.edu/wp-content … _input.pdf

Sodium cooled reactors with S-CO2 power generation loops would be around an order of magnitude more power dense.  So that's 60kg steel per 100kW.  We could ship that to Mars.

How much would a competing solar power system weigh?  How about a Fusion fission hybrid reactor, or an aqueous homogeneous reactor?  Living well on Mars would appear to be very energy intensive.  And the cost on an imported energy system is a function of weight and power density.  If we are serious about colonising Mars, then we need to plan for high power density energy sources, exploited with large economy of scale.  Our ability to expand industrial civilisation on Mars, is really all about our ability to harness high power density energy sources.

Last edited by Calliban (2022-04-01 17:18:31)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#8 2022-04-01 17:30:55

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,753

Re: John Creighton Postings

Thermal or ir band is quantum dot technology.

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#9 2022-04-02 11:14:40

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 6,228

Re: John Creighton Postings

Calliban,

Speaking of reality checks, you'd need at least 2 reactors to provide 100% "up-time", and 3 would be highly preferable.

Each square meter of the Mars Insight lander's solar panels produced about 333Wh/day on its best day.  Since they are nearly identical to the arrays used on the Phoenix lander, I estimate the panels are 4kg (according to NASA, this is what they are) and all deployment and single-axis tracking hardware probably bumps that up to 8kg without invoking expensive specialty materials.  Even so, let's only consider the mass of the panels themselves.

2,000,000,000Watts * 24hrs per day = 48,000,000,000Watt-hours per day (yes, I know a "sol" on Mars is a tad longer, which means nothing in the grand scheme of things)

48,000,000,000Watt-hours per day / 333Watt-hours per square meter of panel area = 144,144,144m^2 of panel area.

144,144,144m^2 of panel area * 0.289372784489619kg/m^2 of panel area = 41,711,392kg

NASA says Insight's panels will produce about half that during a major dust storm, so double that if you still want to live when it's dustier than usual.  If the power ever runs out, reason unimportant, there is only one possible outcome and it's not good for anyone living there.  We haven't considered the mass of the energy storage system for solar, but rest assured it will be considerably greater if any significant quantity of power is stored.

For the Sodium-cooled reactor, we need 1,200,000kg / 1,200t of steel.

We could ship every piece of that reactor from Earth and still come out ahead.  Heck, we could ship 3 of them and come out ahead.  Maybe then we'd actually have enough power to grow the colony and assure the survival of the colonists.  There's nothing good that comes from being energy-poor.  All the mass we saved could then be devoted to sending other useful things like machine tools for factories, life support equipment, food, teachers who can teach their students how to count, etc.  The batteries make a lot more sense than nuclear reactors for vehicles, but they don't make any sense for trying to store 1 month of emergency power, which would never have been an emergency if you were producing the same amount of power the entire time, without regard to solar insolation levels.

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#10 2022-04-02 17:15:25

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: John Creighton Postings

You're cheating by ignoring the human input into a nuclear power station which means you have to have car parks, canteens, transport links, food, housing and all the rest dedicated solely to nuclear power workers. These are all real world costs of your energy systems which can be seen because  if these costs were not part of the nuclear power system, those workers would be free to undertake other useful work for society, whatever that might be.  Having them (and their resource use) tied up in nuclear power is a drain on society.

This is one of the reasons why levelised cost is a much better comparator because it necessarily has to account for human input.

Price also exposes how unimportant energy density is in the overall scheme of things. Nuclear power has the best energy density and just about the highest price of any of the standard energy systems.

Calliban wrote:

A few reality checks.  Nuclear systems become more mass efficient as they scale up.  If we could scale boiling water reactors to 2000MWe, they would require about 20 tonne of steel per average MWe.  Or 6 tonne per MWth.  If per capita power requirements are 0.1MW, and much of that can be heat, that works out at 600kg steel per capita. 
https://fhr.nuc.berkeley.edu/wp-content … _input.pdf

Sodium cooled reactors with S-CO2 power generation loops would be around an order of magnitude more power dense.  So that's 60kg steel per 100kW.  We could ship that to Mars.

How much would a competing solar power system weigh?  How about a Fusion fission hybrid reactor, or an aqueous homogeneous reactor?  Living well on Mars would appear to be very energy intensive.  And the cost on an imported energy system is a function of weight and power density.  If we are serious about colonising Mars, then we need to plan for high power density energy sources, exploited with large economy of scale.  Our ability to expand industrial civilisation on Mars, is really all about our ability to harness high power density energy sources.


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

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#11 2022-04-02 17:28:35

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: John Creighton Postings

Emergency and balancing dirunal energy storage can easily take the form of methane and oxygen which can be used to power methox electricity generators.  We have to make methane and oxygen in large quantities for rocket fuel in any case so using part of the production for energy storage is a sensible and straightforward solution. 

What would you use for energy storage in the event of a nuclear power failure?  Or would you just assume your nuclear power facilities are going to work perfectly, including in a dust storm? How will nuclear power facilities operate during long lasting dust storms on Mars? We know it is an issue on Earth for much shorter duration storms:

"The main negative effects of dust/sandstorms could be corrosion, abrasion, plugging, and clogging of filters, electric/electronic circuits and rotating parts of the systems, structures and components (SSCs) of the NPP"

https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCol … 093696.pdf

My calculations suggest that on Mission One you could easily have a long period of emergency power from Starship batteries and other imported battery stacks (maybe up to 30 tonnes out of your 500 tonne allowance). IIRC more than an Earth month.

That's probably necessary on Mission One as we will want a belt and braces approach.

Longer term we need to look at sublimation heat engines.

http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=8251

Mars seems like the perfect location for developing these. I think they can operate a night as well, which is an added advantage.

kbd512 wrote:

Calliban,

Speaking of reality checks, you'd need at least 2 reactors to provide 100% "up-time", and 3 would be highly preferable.

Each square meter of the Mars Insight lander's solar panels produced about 333Wh/day on its best day.  Since they are nearly identical to the arrays used on the Phoenix lander, I estimate the panels are 4kg (according to NASA, this is what they are) and all deployment and single-axis tracking hardware probably bumps that up to 8kg without invoking expensive specialty materials.  Even so, let's only consider the mass of the panels themselves.

2,000,000,000Watts * 24hrs per day = 48,000,000,000Watt-hours per day (yes, I know a "sol" on Mars is a tad longer, which means nothing in the grand scheme of things)

48,000,000,000Watt-hours per day / 333Watt-hours per square meter of panel area = 144,144,144m^2 of panel area.

144,144,144m^2 of panel area * 0.289372784489619kg/m^2 of panel area = 41,711,392kg

NASA says Insight's panels will produce about half that during a major dust storm, so double that if you still want to live when it's dustier than usual.  If the power ever runs out, reason unimportant, there is only one possible outcome and it's not good for anyone living there.  We haven't considered the mass of the energy storage system for solar, but rest assured it will be considerably greater if any significant quantity of power is stored.

For the Sodium-cooled reactor, we need 1,200,000kg / 1,200t of steel.

We could ship every piece of that reactor from Earth and still come out ahead.  Heck, we could ship 3 of them and come out ahead.  Maybe then we'd actually have enough power to grow the colony and assure the survival of the colonists.  There's nothing good that comes from being energy-poor.  All the mass we saved could then be devoted to sending other useful things like machine tools for factories, life support equipment, food, teachers who can teach their students how to count, etc.  The batteries make a lot more sense than nuclear reactors for vehicles, but they don't make any sense for trying to store 1 month of emergency power, which would never have been an emergency if you were producing the same amount of power the entire time, without regard to solar insolation levels.


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

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#12 2022-04-02 17:32:37

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 6,228

Re: John Creighton Postings

Louis,

Giving people stable high-paying jobs that require a good education is somehow "cheating"?

What are we cheating them out of, exactly?

Would you rather have a bunch of people with lesser education and skill?

That tends to lead to poverty and crime.  Why would that ever be preferable?

Ever hear the story of the nuclear engineer who held up the liquor store or local diner because he couldn't make ends meet?

No?

Me, neither.

When last I checked, all those people still have to be employed somewhere, doing something.  They can either be solar installers working just above minimum wage or they could be salaried professionals with stable long-term job prospects.  The end goal isn't to keep them "busy", either, it's to devote the minimum number of people to engaging work tasks that can be careers that pay living wages.

We know what nuclear costs.  We know what solar plus any kind of energy storage costs- too much to be viable, which is why there isn't any at a grid scale.  This is not about what is best or what we'd rather.  It's about what works as well as we can make it work.  We simply can't make solar work well enough with current technology.  That's the real reason it's not the only energy supply we use.

The US solar industry directly employs 230,000 people.  Those people have to get to work, they need parking spaces, homes, etc.

The US nuclear industry directly employs 100,000 people.  Nuclear produces a lot more power than solar, and again, stable long-term employment that you can make a career of and afford to put your kids through college or tech school or whatever.

The basic premise of your argument is therefore not valid.

Your last argument about levelized cost conveniently ignores the fact that wind and solar never operate on their own.  They require gas turbine or coal-fired or nuclear power plant backups as well.

Any more non-arguments or false premise arguments you wish to make?

Seriously, though, this is getting silly.

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#13 2022-04-02 17:35:20

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 6,228

Re: John Creighton Postings

Louis,

No it can't.  You need power to make back-up energy, and when that backup is gone it has to be replaced or it's not there for next time.  You wouldn't use stored energy in the event of any failure, because with nuclear you get 3X more power for the same energy input it took to move all those solar panels and batteries to Mars to begin with.

Energy production is the name of the game.  Always.

Nuclear does that for less mass and less total cost when all factors are taken into consideration.

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#14 2022-04-02 19:38:02

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: John Creighton Postings

You do know nuclear power facilities on Earth have maintenance downtime, experience emergency shutdowns and occasionally suffer catastrophic failures, don't you? You're making it sound like nuclear facilities operate 24/7 for the whole of their lives.

I note you haven't even bothered to address the issue of how nuclear power facilities might operate in dust storms on Mars.

I don't accept the starting assumptions about solar power - mass and so on.

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

No it can't.  You need power to make back-up energy, and when that backup is gone it has to be replaced or it's not there for next time.  You wouldn't use stored energy in the event of any failure, because with nuclear you get 3X more power for the same energy input it took to move all those solar panels and batteries to Mars to begin with.

Energy production is the name of the game.  Always.

Nuclear does that for less mass and less total cost when all factors are taken into consideration.


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

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#15 2022-04-03 04:23:11

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,218

Re: John Creighton Postings

Power density is very important.  It is the difference between a system that is sustainable without fossil fuels and one that is not.  We cannot build solar power plants on Earth or Mars using the energy produced by solar power.  The EROEI of solar power in Spain is 2.45.  That is the value calculated by Charles Hall back in 2016, including all of the inputs to the power plants- roads, labour input, everything.  I'm not sure if he even included storage or back up.  But either way, there isn't enough net energy to allow solar to build new solar over their producing lifetime.  These things are fossil fuel extenders.  That is why they are produced in China using otherwise stranded coal reserves.  Here on Earth, it is a way of accessing coal reserves that would otherwise be inaccessible.  So we can think of solar power as being stored coal energy from Xinxiang.

A solar panel is rather like a non-rechargeable battery, that charges up will coal energy in China and discharges in California.  If you build it in Germany or England, you will actually get less energy back than it took to build the power plant.  Those levels of insolation are comparable to what we will encounter on Mars surface.  If EROEI drops beneath about 11, economic growth becomes impossible here on Earth.  That is because economic growth means investing in new infrastructure at the same time as paying operating and maintenance costs of existing infrastructure.  On Mars, the EROEI threshold will be higher, because usable land must sit in a pressure vessel, heating will be needed everywhere all of the time, and even air is something that must be manufactured.

So the reality is that if nuclear power can produce enough net energy to allow us to expand civilisation on Mars, then a Martian civilisation is a realistic prospect.  If it cannot, then there will not be a civilisation on Mars.  End of.  There is no coal or natural gas on Mars and no air to burn it in.  The air is too thin for wind power.  Solar power is a niche power supply.  It cannot power heavy industry.  It will be useful in some small, dislocated applications, just as it is on Earth.  And nuclear power will be needed to produce solar power.

The capacity factor for light water reactors is 90%+.  Most of the down time they do have is scheduled refuelling outages.  For a PWR, fuel shuffling needs to take place once every year.  A 1GWe PWR will replace some 30 tonnes of fuel (out of a total of 90 tonnes) every year.  That is where most of the down time comes from.

If so many people are employed at a nuclear power plant, then I have to question what they are really doing.  A NPP is a steam plant, with a nuclear pile replacing the boiler.  There are no mills, no blowers, no fuel delivery systems, no ash handling equipment, no coal heaps, no tanker jetties and no ash lagoons.  This is what has made nuclear operating costs so low.  Fuel is cheap.  Maintenance is light.  The main costs come from building.  So if nuclear workforce is really that high, what are they actually doing?

Last edited by Calliban (2022-04-03 05:16:47)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#16 2022-04-03 16:28:38

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 6,228

Re: John Creighton Postings

This begs the question of what we're actually doing with the fossil fuels that we do have.  Why are we continuing to consume so much of a dwindling supply to produce machines that don't last long enough to achieve energy pay-back?  This makes no sense, unless your goal is to cushion the decline of economic growth.  Why are we not investing in energy supplies that will enable continued economic growth?  We know for a fact that we cannot grow by transforming energy-dense fossil fuel resources into machines that consume that energy and then provide a lesser quantity of energy over an extended period of time.

The Only Long-Range Solution to Climate Change

From the article:

...
A few well-meaning analysts and pundits try to avoid the climate-energy-economy dilemma by creating scenarios in which renewable energy saves the day simply by becoming dramatically cheaper than energy from fossil fuels; or by ignoring the real costs of dealing with energy intermittency in solar and wind power generation. Some argue that we have to fight climate change by becoming even more powerful than we already are—by geoengineering the atmosphere and oceans and thus taking full control of the planet, thereby acting like gods. And some business and political leaders simply deny that climate change is a problem; therefore, no action is required. I would argue that all of these people are deluding themselves and others.
...
The only real long-range solution to climate change centers on reining in human physical, social, and economic power dramatically, but in ways that preserve human dignity, autonomy, and solidarity. That’s more daunting than any techno-fix. But this route has the singular advantage that, if we follow it intelligently and persistently, we will address a gamut of social and environmental problems at once. In the end, it’s the only path to a better, safer future.

Even these "climate activist" people understand the nature of the problem, but the political class refuses to admit that there are no "good solutions".

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#17 2022-04-03 16:43:40

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 12,008

Re: John Creighton Postings

This is primarily for SpaceNut, and as usual, it may be of interest to other members ...

In  this post, John Creighton reports his academic focus ... I'd like to once again encourage thinking about an outreach to former members.

http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php … 197#p37197

I would be happy to set up a script to send an email, but so far, no one (that I know of) has composed an email that mght be sent.

(th)

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#18 2022-04-03 18:14:22

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,753

Re: John Creighton Postings

I took a peek and last visit was 2012 with none of the websites or blogs active at all or stagnant 2007.

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#19 2022-04-03 18:20:51

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: John Creighton Postings

I don't think it's for me to give you chapter and verse on the nuclear power industry which historically has been incredibly secret about its costs. All I have to do is link to this:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/d … ower-plant

The price of new nuclear power electricity  in the UK, supplied to the grid,  cannot fall below 9 pence per KwH! That's incredibly expensive.

As for the energy return on PV panels, I think you are living in the past. Even if Hall was right in 2016, that's 8 years ago and that's a long ago in the development of PV panels:

https://www.bnl.gov/pv/files/pdf/pe_mag … _10_12.pdf

This seems like a good debunking of Hall's analysis, laying stress on his error in including waste heat as part of the useful energy provided by fossil fuels:

http://bountifulenergy.blogspot.com/201 … -than.html

That said, EROI analysis often descends into angels-dancing-on-a-pin territory.  It is far more useful to uncover the unsubsidised price of an useful energy unit in my view. The market does all the calculations for you.

Over 500 people employed in producing just under 1Gw of electricity:

https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/power- … ey-point-b 

Do you need 500 people to maintain 800 wind turbines which might provide on average simple power levels? I doubt it.

Calliban wrote:

Power density is very important.  It is the difference between a system that is sustainable without fossil fuels and one that is not.  We cannot build solar power plants on Earth or Mars using the energy produced by solar power.  The EROEI of solar power in Spain is 2.45.  That is the value calculated by Charles Hall back in 2016, including all of the inputs to the power plants- roads, labour input, everything.  I'm not sure if he even included storage or back up.  But either way, there isn't enough net energy to allow solar to build new solar over their producing lifetime.  These things are fossil fuel extenders.  That is why they are produced in China using otherwise stranded coal reserves.  Here on Earth, it is a way of accessing coal reserves that would otherwise be inaccessible.  So we can think of solar power as being stored coal energy from Xinxiang.

A solar panel is rather like a non-rechargeable battery, that charges up will coal energy in China and discharges in California.  If you build it in Germany or England, you will actually get less energy back than it took to build the power plant.  Those levels of insolation are comparable to what we will encounter on Mars surface.  If EROEI drops beneath about 11, economic growth becomes impossible here on Earth.  That is because economic growth means investing in new infrastructure at the same time as paying operating and maintenance costs of existing infrastructure.  On Mars, the EROEI threshold will be higher, because usable land must sit in a pressure vessel, heating will be needed everywhere all of the time, and even air is something that must be manufactured.

So the reality is that if nuclear power can produce enough net energy to allow us to expand civilisation on Mars, then a Martian civilisation is a realistic prospect.  If it cannot, then there will not be a civilisation on Mars.  End of.  There is no coal or natural gas on Mars and no air to burn it in.  The air is too thin for wind power.  Solar power is a niche power supply.  It cannot power heavy industry.  It will be useful in some small, dislocated applications, just as it is on Earth.  And nuclear power will be needed to produce solar power.

The capacity factor for light water reactors is 90%+.  Most of the down time they do have is scheduled refuelling outages.  For a PWR, fuel shuffling needs to take place once every year.  A 1GWe PWR will replace some 30 tonnes of fuel (out of a total of 90 tonnes) every year.  That is where most of the down time comes from.

If so many people are employed at a nuclear power plant, then I have to question what they are really doing.  A NPP is a steam plant, with a nuclear pile replacing the boiler.  There are no mills, no blowers, no fuel delivery systems, no ash handling equipment, no coal heaps, no tanker jetties and no ash lagoons.  This is what has made nuclear operating costs so low.  Fuel is cheap.  Maintenance is light.  The main costs come from building.  So if nuclear workforce is really that high, what are they actually doing?


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

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#20 2022-04-04 10:45:58

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,218

Re: John Creighton Postings

Louis, you don't like £0.09/kWh for a first of class NPP?  How about £0.152/kWh?  That is the actual average breakeven price for offshore wind in the North Sea and Irish Sea.  But that's for wind energy, so I guess you would say that's cheap.
For onshore wind things look a little better.  But that is for the UK, which is just about the windiest place on Earth.  Believe it or not, the cost per installed MW of wind power has been trending up for a while.  But capacity factors have increased as turbines have gotten larger and have moved into deeper water.
https://www.ref.org.uk/ref-blog/365-win … nd-reality

The actual day ahead wholesale price of electricity in the UK as of March 2022 is running at £0.302/kWh.  Retail prices were capped until 1st April something that resulted in numerous retailers declaring bankruptcy.  They now exceed wholesale prices by a comfortable margin.  They will rise again in October.

The UK electricity supply is now dominated by three energy sources.  Natural gas, mostly burned in CCGTs, wind power (a roughly even mix of onshore and offshore) and nuclear power.
https://gridwatch.co.uk/

Why is electricity costing so much?  When you buy a unit of electricity, you are paying the capital and operating costs of all of the systems needed to deliver it to you.  In the case of wind power, you are essentially paying the capital and operating costs of both the natural gas CCGT power plant and the wind farm.  You need both of them to produce electricity reliably.  Essentially, wind power reduces the amount of natural gas burned in the CCGT.  So your renewable energy is actually 30% wind and 70% natural gas.  Saving the gas is worth about £14/MWh.  But it costs £152/MWh.  So the real cost of a MWh of combined wind and natural gas power is something like £200/MWh.  That's because you still have to pay all of the capex and operating costs of the CCGT even if it sits there doing nothing.  And you pay for the wind power as well.  And then there is the cost of transmission, carbon taxes and profit margins.  Which takes it up to £300/MWh.  That represents a 20x increase in the wholesale cost of power over the past 20 years.  That is equivalent to a compounding 16% increase per year for 20 years.  Now millions of people get to feel real righteous as they freeze in the dark.

With nuclear power, you pay for the cost of nuclear generation and that's it.  Just one power plant.  Refuelling and planned maintenance takes place in summer when power demand is lower.  This is why £100/MWh, though expensive compared to legacy nuclear power, is actually a bargain compared to what we are paying right now for the UKs renewable energy folly.  And nuclear power allows the UK to reduce its dependence on natural gas.  Renewable energy increases that dependence.  Since 2008, the UK electricity usage has declined by around 20%.  This is what happens when a country's manufacturing industries die.  Those industries have gone to India and China and other places where energy is cheaper.  The price we pay for ideological stupidity will be poverty and a sliding position in the world economic order.

The breakeven cost of wind power is about to go up some more, as Chinese steel exports are constrained by that coal crisis that they are having.  Both wind and solar power infrastructure are made using liw-cost Chinese coal based energy.
https://www.instituteforenergyresearch. … n-percent/
https://www.congress.gov/117/meeting/ho … 009-U1.pdf

How much would wind and solar power cost if those turbines had to be made using wind and solar power?

Last edited by Calliban (2022-04-04 12:06:13)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#21 2022-04-04 14:58:30

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: John Creighton Postings

Well it seems to me we are now looking to the future, not in the rear view mirror.

The record-low prices will see projects due to start operating in 2023/24 coming in at £39.65/MWh (in 2012 prices, £44/MWh adjusted for inflation) and those for 2024/25 at £41.61/MWh. These are some £8-9/MWh below the government’s “reference price”, the level it expects to see for electricity on the open market in each year.

https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-re … ts-by-2023

I accept that wind energy in the past, especially offshore wind energy, was a much more expensive proposition and if we look only at total costs now, the comparisons might not seem very positive but now we are assessing what is best for the future.

Of course you are quite right that at present you have to make allowance for other energy input to account for days of low wind input. Not all of that means gas subsitution.  You can also use hydro, pumped hydro, waste to energy, geothermal and biofuels.You also of course ensure you are plugged into a continental wide grid so you can call in power as necessary from other areas e.g. from Scandinavia, Iceland, Ireland, Denmark and mainland Europe.

But I think we are also moving to a scenario where green hydrogen will fill much of the gap. This is important because even if that is more expensive than LNG, if it forms part of your domestic economy it represents a huge wealth creator.

Currently I estimate that Green Hydrogen might cost around 27 cents per KwH. If that cost can be reduced to something under 7 cents per KwHe as seems feasible if the price of hydrogen reduces to $1-$2 per Kg, then coupled with a price of 2-3 cents per KwH for green energy - solar and wind, that will deliver cheap and secure energy at around 3-4 cents per KwH (noting we will only require the green hydrogen for perhaps 10% of production, max).

For a relatively small island like the UK, it is madness to rely on nuclear power when a serious accident could cause a major catastrophe with millions losing their homes and agricultural production being reduced by as much as 50%. It's an even greater madness to let the Chinese Communist Party control the plants.


Calliban wrote:

Louis, you don't like £0.09/kWh for a first of class NPP?  How about £0.152/kWh?  That is the actual average breakeven price for offshore wind in the North Sea and Irish Sea.  But that's for wind energy, so I guess you would say that's cheap.
For onshore wind things look a little better.  But that is for the UK, which is just about the windiest place on Earth.  Believe it or not, the cost per installed MW of wind power has been trending up for a while.  But capacity factors have increased as turbines have gotten larger and have moved into deeper water.
https://www.ref.org.uk/ref-blog/365-win … nd-reality

The actual day ahead wholesale price of electricity in the UK as of March 2022 is running at £0.302/kWh.  Retail prices were capped until 1st April something that resulted in numerous retailers declaring bankruptcy.  They now exceed wholesale prices by a comfortable margin.  They will rise again in October.

The UK electricity supply is now dominated by three energy sources.  Natural gas, mostly burned in CCGTs, wind power (a roughly even mix of onshore and offshore) and nuclear power.
https://gridwatch.co.uk/

Why is electricity costing so much?  When you buy a unit of electricity, you are paying the capital and operating costs of all of the systems needed to deliver it to you.  In the case of wind power, you are essentially paying the capital and operating costs of both the natural gas CCGT power plant and the wind farm.  You need both of them to produce electricity reliably.  Essentially, wind power reduces the amount of natural gas burned in the CCGT.  So your renewable energy is actually 30% wind and 70% natural gas.  Saving the gas is worth about £14/MWh.  But it costs £152/MWh.  So the real cost of a MWh of combined wind and natural gas power is something like £200/MWh.  That's because you still have to pay all of the capex and operating costs of the CCGT even if it sits there doing nothing.  And you pay for the wind power as well.  And then there is the cost of transmission, carbon taxes and profit margins.  Which takes it up to £300/MWh.  That represents a 20x increase in the wholesale cost of power over the past 20 years.  That is equivalent to a compounding 16% increase per year for 20 years.  Now millions of people get to feel real righteous as they freeze in the dark.

With nuclear power, you pay for the cost of nuclear generation and that's it.  Just one power plant.  Refuelling and planned maintenance takes place in summer when power demand is lower.  This is why £100/MWh, though expensive compared to legacy nuclear power, is actually a bargain compared to what we are paying right now for the UKs renewable energy folly.  And nuclear power allows the UK to reduce its dependence on natural gas.  Renewable energy increases that dependence.  Since 2008, the UK electricity usage has declined by around 20%.  This is what happens when a country's manufacturing industries die.  Those industries have gone to India and China and other places where energy is cheaper.  The price we pay for ideological stupidity will be poverty and a sliding position in the world economic order.

The breakeven cost of wind power is about to go up some more, as Chinese steel exports are constrained by that coal crisis that they are having.  Both wind and solar power infrastructure are made using liw-cost Chinese coal based energy.
https://www.instituteforenergyresearch. … n-percent/
https://www.congress.gov/117/meeting/ho … 009-U1.pdf

How much would wind and solar power cost if those turbines had to be made using wind and solar power?


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

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#22 2022-04-04 21:12:51

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 6,228

Re: John Creighton Postings

Louis,

All the money was blown left, right, and center on this "green energy", but it still costs 3X more than the nuclear solution you don't want.  When you need a complete set of wind turbines, solar panels, and gas turbine power plant to add up to a complete solution, all 3 of those end up costing 3X more than a nuclear power plant that provides power all or nearly all of the time.  3 complete power plants that can meet all or most of the demand cost 3X more than a single power plant.  Who could've possibly figured that out?  Your opposition is ideological.  It has no basis in fundamental economic reality.  It seems as if you'd rather have your own people freeze to death than admit this hasn't worked out the way you wanted it to, unless the goal was to force people to pay 3X more for the same electron flow.

Some people learn from their mistakes even while others never do.  Be a member of the former rather than the latter category.  When something simply isn't working out, it's time to let it go and move on to something that might work.  The entire "green energy" gimmick is merely people who can't admit to themselves that ideology is not reality.  You had an idea in your head.  Great!  That's step one.  The next step is evaluating how closely that idea correlates with observable reality.  When it doesn't line up, you come up with a new idea, that all-important third step, and then you move on.  If this is a core belief thing, then there's probably nothing that will ever change it, but if this is an aesthetics issue you'll simply have to learn to see the beauty in things that work versus things that don't presently work- even if they might work the way you want them to a century or two into the future.  I was clearly "born too early" to see a functional warp drive enabled interstellar ship.  I can and will daydream about having one, but nobody with any good sense would rely on such a craft to start a colony on Mars, because it's probably not in the cards for our generation.

Also, this zero-sum thinking about "we only use this" or "we can only do that", and no other solution is even possible...  That's an ideological cage people lock themselves into.  I don't understand it and I don't think they do, either, else they wouldn't be trapped there.  While known physics could be viewed as something similar to that, it has a basis in physical laws with fairly iron-clad evidence supporting them.  That said, all actual national-level energy grids run on science reduced to extremely repeatable engineering practice.  If some revolutionary new technology comes along, then it may take a generation to figure out how to best use it.  This is how I view wind and solar power.  We clearly don't know how to use it yet, because we're still cave men who barely know how to appropriately use fire.  The level of understanding we need to make wind and solar work the way you want it to, simply doesn't exist yet.

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#23 2022-04-05 03:46:16

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,218

Re: John Creighton Postings

louis wrote:

For a relatively small island like the UK, it is madness to rely on nuclear power when a serious accident could cause a major catastrophe with millions losing their homes and agricultural production being reduced by as much as 50%. It's an even greater madness to let the Chinese Communist Party control the plants.

Louis, this whole thing about 'a nuclear accident leaving us without a country' is nonsense.  A serious nuclear accident would indeed be a colossal pain in the arse.  But let's put the real risks into perspective.  Here are the contamination maps for Fukushima immediately after and one year after the accident.
https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_R … 03131.html

If you lived in one of those red areas and didn't move, you would have taken about 200mSv gamma dose in the first year.  That is about the same dose as we will be taking living on Mars surface or serving on the ISS.  There are places on Earth where natural background is as high as that.  It will expose you to the same level of risk (for one year) as air pollution in one of those big Japanese cities.  Doesn't sound so scary when you put it like that does it?  After 1 year, the red area had shrunk by about 90%.

Some five years after the accident, only a few areas remained heavily contaminated.
https://www.world-nuclear.org/informati … ident.aspx

This is the result of no fewer than three core melt accidents and an open air fuel pond accident.  And if no one moved or took any counter measures, people living in the red areas would have taken the same pollution risk as people in Tokyo for a year or two, in most cases.  It would be difficult to measure any decrease in average life expectancy.

These accidents look scary because they are sensationalised by the media.  The reality on the ground is a pollution hazard, no more dangerous than the air pollution that billions of people live with every day in the world's cities.  It isn't an ideal situation, but you won't see people dropping like flies or growing extra heads.  And most of the hazard is gone within a few years as the most radioactive fission products decay.

The calculated risk from the various means of power generation always ends up showing nuclear power as the safest.  That's because the probability of a major accident is very small.  If it does happen and you happen to be living nearby, you might end up having to live with same pollution risk, for a year or two, as someone living in a city.  That's a drag I admit.  It is one of several reasons that I don't like going to London, or Manchester or Glasgow.  But I live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant.  The danger I face from a nuclear meltdown does not make it into the top 100 concerns I have in life.  There are plenty of things that do scare me.  I fear car accidents.  Having stuff dropped on me when I carry out site inspections.  I have a fear of heights.  I don't particularly like spiders or snakes.  Lately, my power bill scares the heck out of me.  This year, it will cost me around £3000.  That is the hazard of living in a big house and having three kids that are glued to computer games.  I fear losing my job above all other things, because it pays for everything.

If the UK suffers some sort of great depression event because we fail to provide an adequate energy supply, it will do a lot of damage to a lot of people.  They will lose their income, their homes and many of them will die.  I fear that and so should you.  It is a much bigger concern for me than having to live with some radioactive pollution for a few years.  The depression is something that is very likely to happen.  The radioactive pollution is not.

Last edited by Calliban (2022-04-05 04:38:19)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#24 2022-04-05 12:59:34

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: John Creighton Postings

Well I recall we couldn't eat Welsh lamb for several years after Chernobyl - maybe 2000 miles away.

Calliban wrote:
louis wrote:

For a relatively small island like the UK, it is madness to rely on nuclear power when a serious accident could cause a major catastrophe with millions losing their homes and agricultural production being reduced by as much as 50%. It's an even greater madness to let the Chinese Communist Party control the plants.

Louis, this whole thing about 'a nuclear accident leaving us without a country' is nonsense.  A serious nuclear accident would indeed be a colossal pain in the arse.  But let's put the real risks into perspective.  Here are the contamination maps for Fukushima immediately after and one year after the accident.
https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_R … 03131.html

If you lived in one of those red areas and didn't move, you would have taken about 200mSv gamma dose in the first year.  That is about the same dose as we will be taking living on Mars surface or serving on the ISS.  There are places on Earth where natural background is as high as that.  It will expose you to the same level of risk (for one year) as air pollution in one of those big Japanese cities.  Doesn't sound so scary when you put it like that does it?  After 1 year, the red area had shrunk by about 90%.

Some five years after the accident, only a few areas remained heavily contaminated.
https://www.world-nuclear.org/informati … ident.aspx

This is the result of no fewer than three core melt accidents and an open air fuel pond accident.  And if no one moved or took any counter measures, people living in the red areas would have taken the same pollution risk as people in Tokyo for a year or two, in most cases.  It would be difficult to measure any decrease in average life expectancy.

These accidents look scary because they are sensationalised by the media.  The reality on the ground is a pollution hazard, no more dangerous than the air pollution that billions of people live with every day in the world's cities.  It isn't an ideal situation, but you won't see people dropping like flies or growing extra heads.  And most of the hazard is gone within a few years as the most radioactive fission products decay.

The calculated risk from the various means of power generation always ends up showing nuclear power as the safest.  That's because the probability of a major accident is very small.  If it does happen and you happen to be living nearby, you might end up having to live with same pollution risk, for a year or two, as someone living in a city.  That's a drag I admit.  It is one of several reasons that I don't like going to London, or Manchester or Glasgow.  But I live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant.  The danger I face from a nuclear meltdown does not make it into the top 100 concerns I have in life.  There are plenty of things that do scare me.  I fear car accidents.  Having stuff dropped on me when I carry out site inspections.  I have a fear of heights.  I don't particularly like spiders or snakes.  Lately, my power bill scares the heck out of me.  This year, it will cost me around £3000.  That is the hazard of living in a big house and having three kids that are glued to computer games.  I fear losing my job above all other things, because it pays for everything.

If the UK suffers some sort of great depression event because we fail to provide an adequate energy supply, it will do a lot of damage to a lot of people.  They will lose their income, their homes and many of them will die.  I fear that and so should you.  It is a much bigger concern for me than having to live with some radioactive pollution for a few years.  The depression is something that is very likely to happen.  The radioactive pollution is not.


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

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#25 2022-04-20 08:50:31

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 12,008

Re: John Creighton Postings

Here's another noteworthy post by John Creighton...

http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php … 043#p42043
John Creighton
Nova Scotia, Canada

The post itself is short, but the idea is huge/gigantic/massive ... worthy of recovery from the mists of time

I have long thought that the "standard model" space elevator "climber" concept is on the order of ridiculous.

yes, it would work... students have been competing to build real-universe climbers for years and possibly decades.

Creighton describes an improvement, and acknowledges the inevitable tradeoff.

All space elevator designs that I have heard/read about so far are dependent upon a very weak force... simple electrostatic bonding between molecules.  It is generally understood that the gravity of Earth is too strong for any imaginable material that might be created using electrostatic electron bonding.

However, there are stronger forces in the Universe. 

There may be research into harnessing of any of these, but if their are, ** I ** haven't heard about them. But ** that ** isn't saying much, so a NewMars member may be able to report research along these lines.

The ** strongest ** candidate (pun intended) is magnetism.  Unlike electrostatic force (as expressed in chemical electron bonds) magnetic force is NOT limited, and therefore a space elevator constructed of materials which play host to magnetic force would NOT be limited, except by those Laws of the Universe that govern magnetic force.

There is an opportunity here (on the occasion of another John Creighton posting) to find and list all the topics that relate to space elevators.

*** to be fair, I should point out that Free Spirit gave John Creighton useful insight:
http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php … 051#p42051

(th)

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