Author Topic: Power options for a Mars settlement  (Read 47092 times)

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: Power options for a Mars settlement
« Reply #420 on: 06/18/2017 02:55 PM »
Just use CO/O2 as a fuel system. Then you don't need to mine water and don't need to collect the exhaust.
In principle this is a backup system that is only needed in emergencies. On that basis any system should leverage as much existing infrastructure as possible. Since SX have decided on Methalox (and show no signs of changing that decision) the simplest option is to run power generation (either combustion based or FC) with the same reactants, running overnight needs on batteries.

I agree with using methalox for emergency power supplies if methalox is available - i.e. you happen to be near where methalox propellant production facilities are sited, which will be true in the early days. But any settlement is likely to soon have outposts and a CO/O2 system might then be useful as an emergency backup power system; perhaps even a non-emergency one. The obvious alternative is simply more batteries, but batteries are heavy, expensive and need a great deal of industrial infrastructure to manufacture. A CO/O2 system may be more easily manufactured on Mars. I foresee an engineering trades analysis!

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Power options for a Mars settlement
« Reply #421 on: 06/18/2017 03:54 PM »
A system that can burn both CO/O2 and methane O2 would be helpful at the main site. CO/O2 can keep heavy industry running over night and may be more efficient than batteries, when weight and lifespan is included. In emergencies like long dust storms the propellant store can be used.

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: Power options for a Mars settlement
« Reply #422 on: 06/20/2017 04:58 AM »
A system that can burn both CO/O2 and methane O2 would be helpful at the main site. CO/O2 can keep heavy industry running over night and may be more efficient than batteries, when weight and lifespan is included. In emergencies like long dust storms the propellant store can be used.

Good idea. Dual fuel shouldn't be a problem (the on-board generator for the Wrightspeed hybrid truck is a micro-turbine that is designed to run on diesel, compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, liquid propane, or landfill gasses).

You might want generators at two sites (and away from any batteries) for redundancy/safety reasons. Just as you probably don't want to keep all your propellant in two big tanks. Though such redundancy comes at a cost, of course.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Power options for a Mars settlement
« Reply #423 on: 06/21/2017 10:53 AM »
Good idea. Dual fuel shouldn't be a problem (the on-board generator for the Wrightspeed hybrid truck is a micro-turbine that is designed to run on diesel, compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, liquid propane, or landfill gasses).
I had not heard of Wrightspeed before. There technology sounds interesting and the power level seems to be in the range that a small settlement would need, although you could cluster them for larger sizes. 
Quote from: CuddlyRocket
You might want generators at two sites (and away from any batteries) for redundancy/safety reasons. Just as you probably don't want to keep all your propellant in two big tanks. Though such redundancy comes at a cost, of course.
The last thing you want is your contingency system (which is only operating in an emergency) to fail on you, making what's already a serious situation worse.

If the system could run on either CO or CH4 you would have two sets of tanks anyway. Keep in mind while on emergency power it's likely all propellant production will be shut down and if the system has to switch to Methalox burning things will have gotten very serious.
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Offline Ludus

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Re: Power options for a Mars settlement
« Reply #424 on: 06/27/2017 04:37 PM »
From the POV of a commercial project, Solar Power Satellites in Areostationary Orbit have some real advantages. ASO is less than half the distance of GSO, not much atmosphere to get in the way, no real environmental issues or land issues with the rectenna.

SPS's have the advantage of scaling. If you have a design that can deploy itself and start beaming power it can be replicated and improved. Local conditions don't change for every deployment.

The system is likely to be lower upkeep. Ground PV has to be kept free of dust. Rectennas are likely much less trouble.

It provides reliable power 24/7 unlike ground Solar, without batteries. Unlike the Terrestrial version it's not competing with Solar PV with zero launch cost...it all has to get to Mars one way or another.

It's flexible. If Mars has a new settlement it can be powered right away hundreds of miles from old settlements.

It's a utility service that bills for power delivered not a product.

Mars will need a lot of electricity.