Nuclear battery charging via Fusor?

It may be difficult to separate "theory" from "application," but let''s see if this helps facilitate the discussion.
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TomCraver
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Nuclear battery charging via Fusor?

Post by TomCraver » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:14 am

In discussions of solar power for a Mars base, I raised the point of long duration dust storms that cut off power for months at a time. (The alternative of just using nuclear power is countered by the supposed difficulty of getting permission to launch enough nuclear fuel to power a reactor for several decades, given that we were talking about a long term settlement.)

The obvious solution would be to store energy from a solar PV array. And since we were also discussing the use of nuclear power, it occurred to me that maybe one could use a fusor, generating neutrons, to "power up" a nuclear battery. That is, the neutrons get absorbed into plates of some material, transmuting it into another elemental isotope that will decay with a half-life on the order of a month or two, for use in generating power.

One question that raises (other than "what material would be best as the absorber) is: how energy efficient is a good fusor? Obviously not break even - but how far from break even? I suspect the answer is "You'd be far better off cracking hydrogen and oxygen out of water", but it seemed like an interesting question to raise here.

Dan Tibbets
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Re: Nuclear battery charging via Fusor?

Post by Dan Tibbets » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:50 am

Current fusors operate at a Q of ~ 1/ 1 Billion, so yes, electrolyzing water or other energy storage means is tremendously better. Flywheels might be a good storage mechanism on Mars.

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David Geer
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Re: Nuclear battery charging via Fusor?

Post by David Geer » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:08 am

One nuclear method is an array of nuclear pellets, the same that is used to power satellites, to charge battery banks along with solar and wind power generators. Just my two cents.
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Richard Hull
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Re: Nuclear battery charging via Fusor?

Post by Richard Hull » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:28 pm

As noted, forget fusors forever in a power sense.

Any real base on Mars or any of the outer worlds, moons, etc., would have to have fission nuclear. Such fuels could be launched in small fissile bundles, loaded on the mars ship and assembled on mars into a critical mass within a fission reactor there, on-site. No need launching or even taking a working fission reactor to any other world.

In the above manner the critical mass can be carried in bundles well clear of each other (no effective radiation) and no active reactor would hazard a launch or landing on another world.

Wind power? What sized blades? With is low pressure atmosphere, that would be a big facility and winds fast enough to effect decent unit time density would have high velocity sand blasting going on. We're not in Kansas any more.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Chris Bradley
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Re: Nuclear battery charging via Fusor?

Post by Chris Bradley » Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:34 pm

Tom Craver wrote:
> The obvious solution would be to store energy from a solar PV array.
Seems reasonable.... And the obvious solution to keeping that energy stored is to use batteries!.....

Good engineering starts with using the right tool for the job.

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Re: Nuclear battery charging via Fusor?

Post by adrian.f.h » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:18 pm

Hello,
It’s somewhat off topic but I think solar power is by far the most feasible method on the mars. Those rovers did/do a great job and worked much longer than expected. You can place a solar panel nearly everywhere on this planet especially if from time to time some intelligent being shows up to clean it.
Of course a fission reactor is a compact, powerful unit but it's also pricy, potentially dangerous and you will probably need somebody servicing it. You also need to be able to get all the equipment down to the surface without damaging it. I don't think that would be easy at all. Who needs so much power and for what? High living standards? If it goes boom vacation is getting unpleasant. I would prepare for a low energy scenario anyway. It's once again much more a question of saving as much energy as possible instead of mass producing it. It’s the same thing here on earth. That’s at least what I think.

Adrian

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Chris Bradley
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Re: Nuclear battery charging via Fusor?

Post by Chris Bradley » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:45 pm

Further off-topic ... but surely an invention bound to get some interest with fusor.net readership?...:-

Could Alvin Marks' vaneless ion wind generator be operated using dust, rather than water droplets, and if so maybe this could be a means to capture Martian wind energy?:

(for those who have never heard of it... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaneless_i ... _generator

... or further explanation http://www.rexresearch.com/marks/marks.htm )
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Dennis P Brown
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Re: Nuclear battery charging via Fusor?

Post by Dennis P Brown » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:20 pm

Nuclear fission thermo-electric is the only method that offers high power at low total mass. Remember that the sun is much farer away so solar intensity at Mars is, at best, half what the Earth see's. Also, the Mars atmosphere is nearly 1/1000th the Earths so not gonna get much there in the way of energy and like on Earth, winds don't blow 24/7.

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Richard Hull
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Re: Nuclear battery charging via Fusor?

Post by Richard Hull » Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:23 pm

Smart money on a moon or Mars base....Note I said base and not a little metal cocoon there for a month.......will demand sub-surface existence to avoid lethal cosmic ray and solar proton events and CMEs. It will be dark and if the base expands, power levels will demand tens of thousands of watts. A large wind/sand blasted damagable solar array on mars can produce a few thousand watts. A simple fission system operating at 1/10th max design power would need near zero servicing as it is not stressed.

Sure a solar panel set up that can expand would do for a start and temporary supply to charge batteries. Solar arrays would have to be cleaned of photon robbing dust monthly and after major dust storms. An underground simple fission system would give power regardless of surface goings on. Worth the effort and limited risk if we were there to stay, for real.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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