Technology pieces which turns dreams into reality


#1

Just one of many pieces of tech but essential part is power. I hope everyone heard about Kilopower plant. Here is a bit more about it from the developers. History, Krusty testing. And of course what next :smile:

DUFF KRUSTY and Kilopower

Its amazing piece of tech. We need of those on Moon and Mars bases.


What's missing to get humans to Mars? - Orbit 11.28
#2

One of my favourite near future technologies are Carbon Nanotube Fibres, which could help turn into reality the dream of space elevators in the next couple of decades. That is because that material would allow the production of ropes that are much lighter than steel ropes yet which can be much longer without snapping under their own weight.

Here’s a current article I found: Tsinghua University in China claims to have developed Carbon Nanotube Fibres which could hold 800 tons - equivalent to 160 elephants - per cubic inch (~2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 centimetres). According to the article, that corresponds to a Tensile Strenght of 80 Gigapascals. For reference: steel ropes typically have a Tensile Strength of around 2 Gigapascals.

You can produce steel ropes about 10 kilometers (6 miles) long before they snap under their own weight; at 40 times the Tensile Strenght, Carbon Nanotube Fiber ropes could be dangled down 400 kilometers (240 miles) from the International Space Station to the Earth surface without snapping.

Here’s the article:
https://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/stories/nanocarbon-strongest-material-earth-fibers.

Here’s the abstract of the scientific paper the article is based on:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-018-0141-z

Here’s some further reading on the critical constrains of the concept: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2093356-carbon-nanotubes-too-weak-to-get-a-space-elevator-off-the-ground/


#3

I compiled a (selective) list of revolutionary materials and technologies for spaceflight and -colonization. I will try to update it as I learn about new developments. Here it is:

Technology / Material Descripton & Use
Aerogel Silica Aerogels are an extreme thermal insulator with a thermal conductivity of as little as 10 Milliwatt per metre and Kelvin. They can be used for (internal) heat shielding of spaceships and space suits, even in very thin layers. Graphene Aerogels are also the lightest known material, weighing only 160 gramms per cubic metre.
Vantablack (Carbon Nanotube coating) The darkest known material, it absorbs 99.965% of radiation in the visible spectrum. Can be used in sensor Technology and for shielding optical telescopes from reflected sunlight.It could also theoretically be used for changing the Albedo of a planetary body in Terraforming.
Carbon Nanotube Fibers The material with the highest tensile strenght of 80 Gigapascals, compared to about 2 Gigapascals for steel ropes. Could be used for space elevators.
Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) The best known radiation shielding material is almost twice as effective in shielding from cosmic radiation than water (about 6 centimetres vs. 10), but its specific density is 2.6 times that of water.
Aluminium Oxynitride (ALON) Known as transparent aluminium, it is the hardest polycrystalline transparent ceramic available and has a melting point of 2150° C. It can be used for blast and fire resistant windows, for example in spacecraft.
Tantalum Hafnium Carbide The material with the highest known melting point at 4’263 K (3’990° C or 7’214° F). Can withstand extremly high temperatures (and also high pressures), but it has a specific density of 14.76 times that of water. It could be used for solar or crustal probes.
Poly-Paraphenylene Terephthalamide (Kevlar) Kevlar is a lightweight layered material that can effectively shield from impacts, for example by micrometeorites hitting a spaceship or a spacesuit.
Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA-X) Ablative (external) heat shield material for spaceships that can withstand temperatures of 1920 K (1’650° C or 3’000° F) on athmospheric re-entry.
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) The material with the largest known Global Warming Potential, exceeding Carbon Dioxide by 23’900 times over a 100 year period. Could be used as greenhouse gas in terraforming.
3D-Printing Revolutionary advantages of 3D-printing compared to other manufacturing methods include: Extremely complex shapes can be built with less or no excess material being wasted due to the production method (as say in casting or machining techniques); Spare parts must not be brought along in a space mission but can be printed on demand; Designs can be easily tweaked and altered on a cumputer with rapid prototyping; 3D-printing is potentially possible using a multitude of materials from metal aloys, glass and ceramics, through concrete and polymers all the way to foodstuffs (food replicator) and living tissues (spare organs). There is theoretically no size limit for 3D-printing; Parts or entire structures can be built in situ, for example in space or on another planet.
Reusable Rockets (in connection with methane fuel and in-situ fuel production from carbon dioxide) Revolutionary advantages of reusable rockets include: The prize for lifting cargo into space is dramatically reduced by re-flying rocket boosters multiple times. By re-flying the same booster multiple times in the same mission, a spaceship can be fuelled up in space; therefore payload sizes are no longer fast reducing while flying further out: The same payload that was lifted from Earth can thus be delivered for example on the Moon or all the way to Mars. A re-usable rocket can also be propulsively landed on an extraterrestrial body, be fuelled up and then take off again.
Fusion Reactors Fusion Reactors are currently in development. They promise a much more safer and cleaner energy source than the current Nuclear (Fission) Reactors and would produce in excess of 10 times more energy.They hopefully become available by the mid 21st Century.

#4

Pretty sure I read about a formulation of Tantalum Hafnium Carbide originally designed by the russians (or maybe it was just a coating… I can’t find it anymore), which had either niobium or zirconium (can’t recall which) and could go an extra 300-400 C before melting. The use was for Nuclear Thermal Rockets and increasing specific impulse by increasing output temperature (and thus particle speed). NASA was projecting specific impulses in the range of 920-980s (I really wish I could remember where I read it).

Also, here’s another technolgy you might consider looking at adding to your list: metamaterials. Basically, the bulk of the material is just plastic fiber or filler, but woven into it are specifically placed and sized resonators which can absorb and re-emit electromagnetic waves of a specific frequency. Because the space between resonators can be tuned to the wavelength(s) at which they resonate, you can design the material to have unusual properties: for instance transparency or a negative index of refraction for that wavelength. A consequence of this is you can make a lens which is flat and flexible (and possibly even progressive). The current challenge is making resonators small enough to do it in the visible wavelengths. There’s lots of other tricks you could do as well: the possibilities are not yet well explored. Basically, it’s designer light bending.


#5

The space industry used a lot of lightweight silicate plastics e.g. Materials like electric kettles, ptfe

Rocket motor looking at selenium, nikel electro-plating, galium nitrate, ceramic glaze.

Bii6TfNIAAAbPCx BlCBB6aIMAAMblC


#6

My fav new material is the Cellulose Nano Crystals (CNC) … cheap to make (from plants and algae) and up to 2x the strength of carbon fibre. I have a strong belief that it will be one of the primary materials used/manufactured on Mars. Can be used for just about anything. It can be transparent and stronger than ALUM. can be used in 3d printer filaments. Its base material Cellulose can be made into clothing. Can be grown from highly productive algae. etc etc …


#7

I like vanadium foil, it’s electro conductive but thermaly non-conductive

See ladee testing on iss


#8

Thanks for sharing. It’s very interesting and informative. Some tech are ready some sci-fi still. I picked up “kilopower” cause of two main reasons.
1 it’s ready to be used right away
2 in Mars case You can’t rely just on solar power (and have backup on Moon will be wise too)
Power generation on other celestial bodies are essential. And also it can be placed underground. Demands very little maintenance and can be done relatively easy.


#9

I’ve been looking at a lot of earth-moving videos: excavators, bulldozers, back hoes, and what not. Something I’m noticing (that I hadn’t thought much about before) is a lot of dust. I’m expecting this to be a lot worse on Mars, where the dust is talcum powder sized and likes to hang in the air. When we first go to build structures on the surface, we will likely want to level the ground or build it up to improve its ability to hold heavy loads (launch pads). In these cases, our earth-moving machines will likely kick up a cloud of dust that will take hours or days to settle out or blow away. Any nearby solar panels may wind up being choked by the dust, and since the machines will likely be using this power, this could easily slow the work. The same would be true when using the machines to expand the settlement. Since we’re planning on an ever-growing settlement, the dust would be a perpetual problem for solar power.

Thus, more than ever, I’m thinking that a geothermal variation of the Krusty generators (where waste heat is put into the ground) would be the most ideal way of generating power.


#10

Moon dust was a challenge for Apollo missions. Some metals might attract/repell the dust. Dusting solar panels is easy for manned missions not so easy for robots.

Heat swings in the moon are extreme. Sinking into the ground maybe an option.
Geothermal would be great.

latest analysis instrument had sucessful Atacama testing
https://www.instagram.com/impossiblesensing/


#11

Dust suppression is done during construction work on Earth; Unfortunately this is done by making the area damp to congeal the particles and spraying to help get the particles out of the air. With water (or other liquids) liable to be rationed due to resource levels we may have to come up with another idea. I suppose depending on depth large ‘vacuum cleaners’ could be run over an area to get the bulk of the lose particles up then rollers to compress the remaining tighter (which of course could run with a vacuum as well in fact a nozzle in the arch of each wheel/track of all vehicles could help). The captured regolith could then of course be processed for concrete / soil / whatever production it would be like harvesting something that could be a issue and making something useful out of it.

As for solar on mars we already know that can have issues due to dust storms … but at least someone could go out a clean them off after. However there will of course be a minimum power requirement for I expect the answer like here on earth will be a combination of techs. Geothermal heat pumps would make sense and depending on what Insight finds there could be other options … in fact any difference in temperature can be used to generate power or heating. Solar is of course a no brainier certainly with the performance reported from Insight and assuming a reasonably close to the equator position (efficiency decreasing with increasing latitude). RTGS could be a good solution as a backup/background source but would need serious consideration as to positioning etc (see the Martian when he goes grabs the one from a robotic mission). Of course despite many people saying its not ‘realistic’ in the surviving mars game Wind could also be an option … again wind on mars with thinner atmosphere not going to be as efficient and of course blades would have to be designed to take this into account … but they already have some idea of this to produce the rotors on the 2020 helicopter. Also of course during a dust storm limiting solar there is more wind for the windmills. Of course on the Moon no atmosphere so no wind but also only impacts and our activity to kick up dust. And on top of all of this shipping a load of battery packs wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The tech we need the most is the means of getting all this stuff to where it needs to be in the first place. So I’m most excited for the new heavy and super heavy lift vehicles that are being worked on. It would be great to see some sort of more efficient propulsion for large vehicles I have no idea how big an ION Drive can go but perhaps large ION thrusters on Interplanetary ships could cut down on the amount of fuel needed to be carried for interplanetary insertion and slowing down? Closed Cycle Nuclear engines look good for out of atmosphere use but there are obvious risks with launching radio active material so maybe once we have made our first steps and found something we can mine and use as fuel already up there without having to launch it from Earth.

The best existing tech has got to be 3D printing … Just look at what we are already doing with them … printing engines, body parts, and TMRO even had a guest who was looking to print entire rockets. This is still a very new tech and is already having a massive effect. Printing in orbit makes sense … only feed-stock to store in-order to have an infinite set (ok pattern storage drives needed) of part types available.


What's missing to get humans to Mars? - Orbit 11.28
#12

Yep. And I bet on solar+nuclear (such as NASA’a “kilopower”). Geothermal heat pumps it’s very interesting proposal but lets wait data from Insight and it will be marsthermal heat pumps :wink: then. Wind will be the worst option imho.
p.s. “kilopower” has been designed to be transported with the help of existing rocketry.


#13

#14

gobi desert


#15

We’re kind of talking across threads here, but I did some math on “minimum power” for solar and nuclear:


…and by “minimum” I mean, the lowest power needed to refuel. Obviously that goes up if you want to do anything else :slight_smile: