Author Topic: Concentrated Solar Thermal for Mining & Propulsion  (Read 1411 times)

Offline Zed_Noir

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Fascinating  FISO telecon presentation from Joel C Sercel of TransAstra Corporation on August 16, 2017. Presentation about using concentrated solar thermal for propulsion and ISRU processing beyond NEO. Links to presentation slides and audio below.

Pewsentation Slides Link

Presentation Audio Link
Note: Play the MP3 from 17 minutes and 20 seconds onward. Dead air & pre-telecon  chat at start of audio.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Concentrated Solar Thermal for Mining & Propulsion
« Reply #1 on: 08/23/2017 09:20 PM »
Water is a good propellant on Earth because it is available in liquid form. Out at the asteroids other substances may work better. CO2 for instance may be available in solid form.

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Concentrated Solar Thermal for Mining & Propulsion
« Reply #2 on: 08/23/2017 11:05 PM »
So.. basically the plan is to build giant eyeballs and stare directly at the sun.  8)

(edit: sorry, this made more sense during the buildup to the solar eclipse, when there were countless warnings not to stare directly at the sun)
« Last Edit: 09/13/2017 09:04 AM by KelvinZero »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Concentrated Solar Thermal for Mining & Propulsion
« Reply #3 on: 09/15/2017 10:35 AM »
Pretty Powerpoints, but once sunlight has been used to vaporize and pulverize, how is separation and condensation achieved? That will always be more effort than mining and determines the means of mining used, not vice versa.

In the vacuum of space things in the shade get very cold, this can be used to condense materials. Separation can be achieved using centrifuges. These will need investigating.

Offline stefan r

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Re: Concentrated Solar Thermal for Mining & Propulsion
« Reply #4 on: 09/19/2017 06:30 PM »
Pretty Powerpoints, but once sunlight has been used to vaporize and pulverize, how is separation and condensation achieved? That will always be more effort than mining and determines the means of mining used, not vice versa.

In the vacuum of space things in the shade get very cold, this can be used to condense materials. Separation can be achieved using centrifuges. These will need investigating.

A cold beer can will separate water from air.  I believe that will work on the ISS just as well as a living room.  No need for gravity.  Will also work on the inside of a can.

Condensed water will have dissolved CO2 and ammonia.  Should not be a problem for solar thermal rocket fuel.  Ammonia has higher ISP.  CO2 should work.

There is a fair chance that the customer will simply buy "volatile gasses".  All of them have some uses.  A large frozen ball might get a higher price than a smaller high purity ball.  The mass of a centrifuge, distillation apparatus, molecular sieves, and/or chromatography columns may not pay off on small asteroids.

Offline matterbeam

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Re: Concentrated Solar Thermal for Mining & Propulsion
« Reply #5 on: 09/24/2017 10:05 PM »
Using solar thermal power for both propulsion and ablative mining is a neat idea. However, this 'Worker Bee' will be collecting ice and cannot process elements it cannot vaporize, so none of the metals and heavier elements the supposed trillions-worth space mining industry will be built on can be extracted.

I seem to be missing something here?
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Online TrevorMonty

Re: Concentrated Solar Thermal for Mining & Propulsion
« Reply #6 on: 09/25/2017 02:17 AM »
Using solar thermal power for both propulsion and ablative mining is a neat idea. However, this 'Worker Bee' will be collecting ice and cannot process elements it cannot vaporize, so none of the metals and heavier elements the supposed trillions-worth space mining industry will be built on can be extracted.

I seem to be missing something here?
Water is first product on their todo list, they need it for propulsion and hoping there will be market in cis lunar space for it.

After that is likely to be construction metals like iron which will need extracted water to deliver to cislunar market place.

Offline stefan r

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Re: Concentrated Solar Thermal for Mining & Propulsion
« Reply #7 on: 09/25/2017 10:51 PM »
Using solar thermal power for both propulsion and ablative mining is a neat idea. However, this 'Worker Bee' will be collecting ice and cannot process elements it cannot vaporize, so none of the metals and heavier elements the supposed trillions-worth space mining industry will be built on can be extracted.

I seem to be missing something here?

Why not leave the platinum in the bag?  If you ablate the CO2 and water and then you use the water for propulsion you are not delivering very much water. 

The asteroids come in a variety of types.  The platinum group, gold and rare earth elements are more concentrated in M-type asteroids.  The C-type asteroids have more water.  My impression was that the worker bee design was intended for mining volatile gas from C-types. 

Dragging one large M-type asteroid into earth orbit could overload the global market for precious metals.  Pay off for doing it once is huge but probably does not need a sustained operation.  Use one rocket or mass driver on a the chosen M asteroid.  Use a fleet of "honey bees" to collect fuel.

I believe you could cyclone separate heavy metal dust from lighter dust. 

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