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U.S. Navy Plans to Beam Energy From Orbit

naval research laboratory solar power solar panels

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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 02:23 AM

The Navy’s Plan to Beam Down Energy From Orbiting Solar Panels


www.wired.com said:

For decades, the Pentagon has been the world’s largest oil consumer, and as global petroleum prices continue to rise, the military has been searching for feasible energy alternatives. Now they’re looking in space.

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is building technology that will allow the military to capture solar power in orbit and project it back down to Earth. Not only would space solar potentially save the Pentagon buckets of cash, but it could simplify military deployments. Fuel tankers would no longer have to reach remote or volatile areas, and missions could run longer without having to return to base to refuel.

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"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#2    spartan max2

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 02:45 AM

This is actually a really intriguing idea

" I imagine that the intellegent people are the ones so intellegent that they dont even need or want to look "intellegent" anymore".
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#3    The Id3al Experience

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 03:52 AM

Yay no longer will war cost heaps. YAY.....

How about we stop thinking war, and these articles should say.

Look a way to stop our polution to the world, making travel affordable to everyone, blah blah blah...

Noooooo lets look at the miltary benefits firts.

I do not want to live on this planet any longer..... not that I have a choice... fuel is to much for my rocket.

But yes, This idea is quiet interesting!!

Edited by The Id3al Experience, 18 March 2014 - 03:53 AM.

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#4    aquatus1

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 04:47 AM

Heck, figure out an efficient way to beam energy and you won't have to worry about solar power.  Just stick a bunch of nuclear plants at the bottom of the ocean, where it is nice and cold, collect the energy, and distribute.


#5    Zeta Reticulum

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 08:14 AM

View PostThe Id3al Experience, on 18 March 2014 - 03:52 AM, said:

Yay no longer will war cost heaps. YAY.....

How about we stop thinking war, and these articles should say.

Look a way to stop our polution to the world, making travel affordable to everyone, blah blah blah...

Noooooo lets look at the miltary benefits firts.

I do not want to live on this planet any longer..... not that I have a choice... fuel is to much for my rocket.

But yes, This idea is quiet interesting!!
N/Z stopped thinking about war a while ago, when it disbanded its airforce ... now relies on Australia to protect it, and as per the national anthem..."God defend New Zealand"


#6    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 01:23 PM

View PostZeta Reticulum, on 18 March 2014 - 08:14 AM, said:

N/Z stopped thinking about war a while ago, when it disbanded its airforce ...
I think you need to tell the RNZAF they have been disbanded because they don't seem to have noticed. They lost their air combat capability in 2001, but they still exist.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#7    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 01:44 PM

View Postaquatus1, on 18 March 2014 - 04:47 AM, said:

Just stick a bunch of nuclear plants at the bottom of the ocean, where it is nice and cold, collect the energy, and distribute.
Nuclear plants in the deep ocean sounds like a bad idea to me. The potential to contaminate the oceans in the event of an accident would surely out weigh any advantage.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#8    The Id3al Experience

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 07:22 PM

View PostZeta Reticulum, on 18 March 2014 - 08:14 AM, said:

N/Z stopped thinking about war a while ago, when it disbanded its airforce ... now relies on Australia to protect it, and as per the national anthem..."God defend New Zealand"

NZ would obviously need help. Even with our old air combat we simply do not have enough of a population do afford a army. We have more important things to contribute our money towards, Like social benefits and spending it on our country.

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#9    aquatus1

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 01:16 AM

View PostWaspie_Dwarf, on 18 March 2014 - 01:44 PM, said:

Nuclear plants in the deep ocean sounds like a bad idea to me. The potential to contaminate the oceans in the event of an accident would surely out weigh any advantage.

The potential is actually less than it would be on land.  Think about it:
  • The threat of a loss of coolant incident (the number 1 cause of meltdown) is all but eliminated.  Heck, you don't even need a circulation system, considering you are deep in the biggest heat sink in the world.
  • In the event of a meltdown, the radioactive melt goes straight down deep into the ocean floor.  On land, this would be a major issue, as it would contaminate the soil at a minimum and get into the water supply in the worst case scenario.  At the bottom of the ocean, it isn't going to affect anything.
  • Any radiation in the water is going to stay pretty close to where it is.  In the depths of the ocean, there isn't all that much circulation (that's why we see all those robotcam images with little particles just leisurely drifting down onto the silt), unlike the surface, where you get a bunch of radioactive coolant water and you can't just dump it into the ocean because it would get circulated.
  • You are literally hundreds, possibly thousands, of miles away from any human habitation (except the workers living a couple of miles above you).
  • It is entirely possible to use the warmth and circulation provided by the reactors to create a mid-ocean oasis on the surface.  The nutrient rich deep sea water on the warm surface would encourage the growth of algae and krill, which would attract and feed larger fish.



#10    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 01:37 AM

You might be right aquatus1, but you would never get it past the green lobby.

Besides, if we had the technology to construct something as complex as a nuclear reactor on the sea bed and beam the energy to the surface would it not make more sense, both environmentally and economically, to build power stations on the sea bed that use geothermal energy and beam that back to the surface?

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#11    aquatus1

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 02:02 AM

View PostWaspie_Dwarf, on 19 March 2014 - 01:37 AM, said:

You might be right aquatus1, but you would never get it past the green lobby.

I wonder if you would have to?  Two reasons:

1)  Who would have jurisdiction out in the middle of the ocean, hell and gone from any countries territorial waters?

and 2)  Very few people actually care about this sort of thing as long as it isn't happening in their backyard.

I think the biggest problem would be from the Non-Proliferation laws.  They have a very dim view of breeder reactors.

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Besides, if we had the technology to construct something as complex as a nuclear reactor on the sea bed and beam the energy to the surface would it not make more sense, both environmentally and economically, to build power stations on the sea bed that use geothermal energy and beam that back to the surface?

Well, I'm not talking about beaming the energy to the surface.  It's just a couple miles; you can use cables for that.  Beaming is for getting the energy from the middle of the ocean to wherever it is needed on land, by way of space.

As far as geothermal energy goes, the places where that is feasible are few and far between, and not only do they tend to be geologically active (which is where the energy is coming from to begin with), they also tend to have an already existing ecology, which I am loath to destroy, even if they are just a bunch of crabs and worms.  The biggest killer though, is simply that geothermal energy simply cannot compete with nuclear energy.  Around the world, all the geothermal power plants put together manage about 11,000-12,000 MW.  Kashiwasaki-Karikawa  (Japan) and Bruce (Canada) produce between the two of them (15 reactors), an average of 14,000 MW.  There is really no comparison in terms of output.

And technology, well...it would actually be technologically simpler to make a deep ocean reactor.  You can get rid of the circulation system entirely, for starters, which is the number one maintenance hog.  You can also make much greater use of standard robotics, as the water will help protect the delicate electronics from radiation.

Really, all that is needed is an efficient way to get the energy to shore.  And to keep terrorist away from the U-238.


#12    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 02:16 AM

View Postaquatus1, on 19 March 2014 - 02:02 AM, said:



I wonder if you would have to?  Two reasons:

1)  Who would have jurisdiction out in the middle of the ocean, hell and gone from any countries territorial waters?
Greenpeace make it difficult enough to drill for oil, they would certainly mobilise for undersea nuclear power plants.

I was, for a long time, very pro-nuclear, now I sit on the fence. It was not Chernobyl or Fukishima that changed my mind, but the vast cost and difficulty in providing long term storage for the contaminated waste products.

Your idea seems, on the surface (no pun intended) a great idea, but I can't help thinking that it is really an exercise in "out of site, out of mind". Stick a reactor where no one has to see it and we can pretend there are no problems.

Edited to add:
Of course if the U.S. Navy's idea works it can be scaled up. If it can be scaled up then we could be getting a sizeable portion of our energy from orbital solar plants. Then the need for nuclear (as well as fossil fuel) power plants could be diminished.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 19 March 2014 - 02:18 AM.

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#13    aquatus1

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 04:22 AM

View PostWaspie_Dwarf, on 19 March 2014 - 02:16 AM, said:

Greenpeace make it difficult enough to drill for oil, they would certainly mobilise for undersea nuclear power plants.

Sure, oil that is near habitats.  Even then, they don't always put all their effort into it, depending on the significance of the location.

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I was, for a long time, very pro-nuclear, now I sit on the fence. It was not Chernobyl or Fukishima that changed my mind, but the vast cost and difficulty in providing long term storage for the contaminated waste products.

That's the advantage of breeder reactors.  They have much, much, lower waste output, because they "breed" that waste into new fuel.

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Your idea seems, on the surface (no pun intended) a great idea, but I can't help thinking that it is really an exercise in "out of site, out of mind". Stick a reactor where no one has to see it and we can pretend there are no problems.

That's a large part of it.  See, the truth of the matter, as in the facts, the reality, the statistical percentage, is that nuclear energy is the safest and most efficient form of energy production there is.  Quite literally, the biggest problem is people's perceptions.

Quote

Edited to add:
Of course if the U.S. Navy's idea works it can be scaled up. If it can be scaled up then we could be getting a sizeable portion of our energy from orbital solar plants. Then the need for nuclear (as well as fossil fuel) power plants could be diminished.

For me, it comes down to efficiency.  Solar power is an even lower capacity producer than geothermal, but what's worse, it doesn't have a base load.  Though that might be somewhat ameliorated by building it in space.





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