Sunday, May 27, 2012

Energy on mars

The single most important thing a mars colony needs is energy. Nothing else happens without it. Have too little and life is limited. It is required to produce all elements of life support. It is required for all industrial activity. Solar and nuclear are the main sources. Thorium may be the best nuclear source. Some history. A blog.

Dr. Alexander Cannara says, "...every cubic meter of rock on Earth, Moon & Mars has 12 grams of Th232, which turns out to be enough to feed a reactor that meets an American’s energy-consuming needs for about a decade."

Of course, the colonists will need training to make a reactor. Nuclear power is the easy part.

What about solar power on mars? Part of supplies they bring from earth would be several 2 metre-wide rolls of thin-film solar panel arrays which would take two astronauts 17 hours to set up each providing about 100 kilowatts of power. Of course they will need to produce their own ISRU solar power collection methods in short order.

Secondary power sources include methane which can come from the martian atmosphere and used to run engines that can produce, electricity, hydraulics or direct power to a drive shaft or PTO. For energy storage they should consider Nickel-Iron Batteries.

Colonists are going to arrive on mars in a lander which is a temporary shelter. I would propose the lander include a small thorium power reactor (227 kg, 250 KW) so the colonist would have immediate and long term power (one less thing to worry about.) They are going to need to immediately build a permanent shelter which starts with a trench. They could start from orbit to limit how long they stay in the temporary shelter.

150 kw for four.

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