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A Space Based Renewable Power System

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posted on Jul, 3 2007 @ 10:46 PM

A magnetic field produced by a superconducting coil which shields the occupants of a vessel could capture the radiation and redirect it towards a neutron multiplier such as a beryllium sphere, which in turn will recharge a fissionable radioisotope mass within the reactor.

It is a very simple process, but my question is feasibility, and if it is, why am I not already aware of it?

Imagine, no "waste", because the fuel is never spent!

posted on Jul, 3 2007 @ 11:08 PM
Can you prove this mathematically? I don't think you can, you'll be getting diminishing returns due to entropy.

posted on Jul, 3 2007 @ 11:30 PM

Originally posted by uberarcanist
Can you prove this mathematically? I don't think you can, you'll be getting diminishing returns due to entropy.

You sound smart.

posted on Jul, 4 2007 @ 07:07 AM

Originally posted by uberarcanist
Can you prove this mathematically? I don't think you can, you'll be getting diminishing returns due to entropy.

Oh, yes, that is a very smart question. But when one considers that the source of ionizing radiation is the Sun and the rest of the galaxy, and that radiation can be trapped in the magnetospheres of Earth and Jupiter thus providing an abundant source. All that remains is scaling the reactor to meet the energy demand of the end user.

So in effect what we have here is a solar and galactic driven renewable source of energy.

Engineering would be easy, a single superconducting coil around the equator of a reactor kept at space temperature with a reflector and heat sink that provides a powerful magnetic dipole which can both shield the occupants of a space faring vessel and guide the ionizing radiation into the reactor core where it meets a beryllium sphere. Neutrons will flow out of the beryllium into a water bath causing them to slow down, then they would be captured by the radioisotopes in the reactor thus replenishing the radioisotope supply.

Imagine a space station orbiting Jupiter inside one of the belts of its magnetosphere, collecting all that synchrotronic radiation and replenishing reactor cores. A ship could do a spent core dump at one end and pick up a recharged one at the other end!

Or it could be implemented in satellites as an indefinite power source for attitude control and orbit stabilization. Propellant availability still becomes a problem over time though.

posted on Jul, 4 2007 @ 08:31 AM
Matyas, if you agree that uberarcanist has a smart question - and he does - the least you could do is try to answer it. Where's the math that backs up your claim?

And I'm sorry, but the fact that your post includes the words

TextEngineering would be easy

...followed by this

a single superconducting coil around the equator of a reactor kept at space temperature with a reflector and heat sink that provides a powerful magnetic dipole which can both shield the occupants of a space faring vessel and guide the ionizing radiation into the reactor core where it meets a beryllium sphere.

leads me to think that you haven't entirely thought out your design just yet. How do you know that you only need a single superconducting coil, and what would this superconducting coil be made out of, exactly? I'll buy, in principle, that you'd be able to use such a coil as a sort of shield to protect the crew of your spaceship from solar/galactic radiation - the concept is hardly revolutionary in the literature of the field - but how do you propose to "guide the ionizing radiation into the reactor core"? You have a lot of ideas but no specifics.

Even if what you describe in terms of superconducting coils, ionizing radiation, and the like is even possible, that does nothing about the biggest hole in your little proposal. I've highlighted the pertinent section in this selection from your OP:

A magnetic field produced by a superconducting coil which shields the occupants of a vessel could capture the radiation and redirect it towards a neutron multiplier such as a beryllium sphere, which in turn will recharge a fissionable radioisotope mass within the reactor.

I don't know what you mean by being able to "recharge" fissionable material, but it sounds like you're talking about a breeder reactor - that is, a nuclear reactor which creates much of its own fuel. But you can't get something for nothing - you may want to read up on the Three Laws of Thermodynamics - and even breeder reactors require input of additional fuel, although that fuel does not necessarily need to be an especially radioactive isotope of Thorium/Uranium/Plutonium, depending on the type of reactor you are using.

Which begs the question: if all you're doing is designing the equivalent of an over-complicated breeder reactor, why not just power your spaceship with a breeder reactor in the first place? Remember the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Sonny.

posted on Jul, 4 2007 @ 01:27 PM

Originally posted by PhloydPhan
Matyas, if you agree that uberarcanist has a smart question - and he does - the least you could do is try to answer it. Where's the math that backs up your claim?

Sure, I was thinking math one day, and viola! There it was, all neatly packaged in pretty equations.

If you or uberarcanist want to see the math so desperately, then why not help me create it? Obviously if that is what you are looking for, then that is the language you and uberarcanist communicate with?

And I'm sorry, but the fact that your post includes the words

TextEngineering would be easy

I am not sure about TextEngineering, but actually engineering it would be a matter of applying vast resources of existing knowledge.

...followed by this

a single superconducting coil around the equator of a reactor kept at space temperature with a reflector and heat sink that provides a powerful magnetic dipole which can both shield the occupants of a space faring vessel and guide the ionizing radiation into the reactor core where it meets a beryllium sphere.

Geez, I shouldn't have to quote myself, especially since I am just a few posts up

What part of dipole do you not understand, N or S? That is exactly how an Aurora Borealis is created by Mother Nature, and if you don't believe me you can go ask her for the proof, or proof in math, I am sure she will let you look up her dress as the opportunity affords itself....

leads me to think that you haven't entirely thought out your design just yet.

How do you know that you only need a single superconducting coil, and what would this superconducting coil be made out of, exactly?

Well, would it make any sense to have any more? And of course, the superconducting coil will be made out of a superconducting material like Nb3Sn.

...how do you propose to "guide the ionizing radiation into the reactor core"?

As I said, a dipole. The magnetic field pinches the plasma into its own center.

As far as having specifics, is that all you are interested in, the complete package? Then you don't have to do any work. Personally I like a challenge, it keeps things from being boring.

...it sounds like you're talking about a breeder reactor - that is, a nuclear reactor which creates much of its own fuel.

Thanks for that Wiki link. I notice even the most efficient designs require the addition of new fissionable stock:

Even more comprehensive are systems such as the IFR pyroprocessing system, which uses pools of molten cadmium and electrorefiners to reprocess metallic fuel directly on-site at the reactor. Such systems not only commingle all the minor actinides with both uranium and plutonium, they are compact and self-contained, so that no plutonium-containing material ever needs to be transported away from the site of the breeder reactor. Breeder reactors incorporating such technology would most likely be designed with breeding ratios very close to 1.00, so that after an initial loading of enriched uranium and/or plutonium fuel, the reactor would then be refueled only with small deliveries of natural uranium metal. A quantity of natural uranium metal equivalent to a block about the size of a milk crate delivered once per month would be all the fuel such a 1 gigawatt reactor would need.

you may want to read up on the Three Laws of Thermodynamics

Thanks again for that weaki reference, much like this one? I fail to see how any laws are violated or overlooked when there is an external input. According to your understanding, as I am receiving it, the universe should have died a heat death long ago. Solar energy would not work, and no difference in potential could be created to do work. Perhaps you should read up on the second law.

- and even breeder reactors require input of additional fuel,

Which is the whole point of this idea to start with, so why are you shooting yourself in the foot?

although that fuel does not necessarily need to be an especially radioactive isotope of Thorium/Uranium/Plutonium, depending on the type of reactor you are using.

Which depends on application.

Which begs the question: if all you're doing is designing the equivalent of an over-complicated breeder reactor, why not just power your spaceship with a breeder reactor in the first place? Remember the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Sonny.

I think any spacefaring vessel within the solar system can be powered by fast breeder reactors, but spent fuel and replenishing supplies can become a problem.

Besides. I prefer the original meaning of KISS, "Keep It Simple Stupid!" because I don't think you know how old I really am. If you are afraid of offending my sensibilities, I assure you I can hold my own and no cliche is powerful enough to undo my mental strength.

posted on Jul, 4 2007 @ 02:00 PM
Impressive, Matyas - a long post that says absolutely nothing.

I am asking you to back up your design with some math and some engineering specifics - like what kind of superconducting material you will use, etc. - because, frankly, I don't see why you think this will work. It is not my job - nor is it uberarcanist's - to supply you with equations and the like. If you expect anyone to take you seriously you need to do this yourself.

I included the information about breeder reactors and the laws of thermodynamics to illustrate that you can't get something for nothing. You aren't going to magically "recharge" spent fissile fuel by bombarding it with neutrons, you're going to have to add more fuel at some point. If you want to keep your reactor pumping out power you will have to add Thorium/Uranium/Plutonium to your pile at some point, it doesn't - as you put it - "depend on the application."

Two final notes: I don't call anyone "stupid" or even habitually use the word, whether they're someone I know personally or just another poster on ATS - not even when they deserve it, which some posters here do, and from your posts so far I'll say that I do not think you are one of them. You have an interesting idea here, I just don't see how it would work.

Secondly, I don't have any problem posting Wiki links to well-researched summary articles - things like Breeder Reactors, say, or the Laws of Thermodynamics. You'll notice that I provided more specific links to more specific claims/data. If you have a problem with that, say so, but please stow the passive-aggressive "weaki" commentary.

posted on Jul, 5 2007 @ 11:36 PM
Apparently I was wrong. Particle accelerators are being used to transmute spent fuel as shown in this article.

But FR (fast reactor) technology appears to be closing the fresh stock and waste elimination gap for thermal and molten salt reactors. The only application I see for my idea could possibly be elimination of the bulk of the accelerator by taking advantage of the synchrotronic radiation for space based nuclear reactors. I don't know how 100 MeV-1000 MeV particles compare to a 1.5 GeV 25 mA proton beam, but I bet it would be enough to use in a very small reactor.

For deep space exploration it is still a ways off, even a very good neutron economy for upwards of 30 years is not enough to keep an interstellar vehicle powered up, considering current and widely accepted rocket technology puts a rendezvous with our nearest star at about 70,000 years? I can dig the reference up on that one if needs be.

posted on Jul, 14 2007 @ 03:28 PM
This thread is one of numerous examples of the regressive reception people with new ideas receive in the science community. This article explains such behavior in detail:

Dean Radin (1997) broke down the acceptance of a new science idea into the following four predictable stages which this author sees as being rife with various aforementioned biases and dissonance reduction:

Stage 1, skeptics proclaim that the idea is impossible.

Stage 2, skeptics reluctantly concede that the ideal is possible, but trivial.

Stage 3, the mainstream realizes that the idea is more important than the trivializing scientists in authority lead them to believe.

Stage 4, even the skeptics proclaim that they knew it all along or even that they thought of it first (P.243).

The reader will note that once my idea was shown to have merit and discovered by me through further research to be already widely accepted, implemented, and in use, all criticism ceased, but the thread was moved to the "skunkworks" in a possible effort to hide the error.

posted on Jul, 17 2007 @ 09:54 PM
Actually, Matyas, this thread is one example among many of the sort of reception posters to ATS receive when they make wild claims and then refuse/are unable to back those claims up with solid evidence.

Reacting to the article you linked to in your above post, if you had bothered to read any of the other posts on this thread - those authored by myself, uberarcanist, or Project_Silo - you would notice than no one (not even myself, and I proudly consider myself a "skeptic") proclaims your idea "impossible". Impractical? Sure. Needlessly complicated? Absolutely. Not backed up by any data/math/experimentation of your own? Without a doubt. But it isn't impossible, and no one ever made such a claim.

I'm not privy to the exact reasons behind this thread being moved, but - if I were to hazard a guess - I would say that it ended up here in the Skunk Works forum because it is a better fit here than anywhere else. In the introductory thread to this forum (the one pinned at the very top of the forum) Skeptic Overlord has this to say about the Skunk Works Forum:

As mentioned, this forum is for your most outlandish and extreme speculative conspiracy theory ideas. The intent is for like-minded members to engage in collaborative discussions about these theories in an environment that embraces and encourages extreme thought.

Outlandish? Check. Extremely speculative? Check. Collaborative discussion? Not so much, but since you've failed to explain why your concept is better than, for example, a run-of-the-mill breeder reactor - and since you seem to prefer to wander off on tin foil tangents about how your ideas are being suppressed because their sheer ingenuity is too much for the hoi polloi to handle - I'd say that the responsibility for the lack of interest in this thread falls squarely at your feet.

All things considered, I'd say this thread meets the criteria required for residence in the Skunk Works forum quite nicely.

posted on May, 18 2008 @ 08:04 PM

A magnetic field produced by a superconducting coil

Take some time to read this:

Major De Seversky's Ion-Propelled Aircraft

It is an atmospheric (air-born ) design. Anyone has any knowledge if any similar concept ever tested in space? Not electrodynamic tether parallels but ion generated perpetual motion.

I will be back, I have to go!

[edit on 18-5-2008 by spacebot]

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