A general overview of the main sources of energy that will be distributed during the period of space civilization.
Energy is one of the basic industries and life support. Energy lies at the basis of the technological life environment that determines the standard of living and the level of civilizational development. Together with the transition of terrestrial civilization to the cosmic level, humanity must switch to other sources of energy.
The energy of burning fossil fuels, which is now the basis of the energy of the earth, can not be the basis of the energy of space civilization. It has limitations not allowing to increase the volume of world industry in dozens of times, which will accompany the development of a new industrial system and the industrialization of the solar system. The resources of fossil fuels will not suffice for the new industrial leap necessary for the transition of mankind to the space age. Increasing its use only a few times, will cause a global environmental catastrophe.
In this post, I listed the main sources of energy suitable for creating the foundation of the space industry on earth. For the subsequent transition to the industrialization of the solar system — the Space Era Industry.
The main source of energy for the new industrialization that accompanies the transition of mankind to the cosmic level is the sun. Solar energy is inexhaustible, pure and universally available. Both on earth and on the nearest planets and asteroids of the solar system.
Other sources of energy are nuclear reactors, of new generations operating on depleted uranium. In some perspective, 2 to 3 decades, the emergence of thermonuclear reactors on hydrogen isotopes «Tritium and deuterium». The thermonuclear reaction on heavy isotopes of hydrogen is easier to carry out, but it gives the release of neutrons, radioactive contamination. In the more distant future, in 50-60 years, pure thermonuclear reactors, operating on isotopes of boron and hydrogen, may appear.
Among the sources of energy of space civilization, there are also local, widely available sources of energy. The burning energy of renewable fuels of biological origin, and wind power.
The architecture of the energy of space civilization as a whole is defined. The main share in it will be occupied by solar energy, which in the next decade will replace fossil fuels. A minor share, about 10 to 30%, will be occupied by nuclear power, which will later be replaced by a thermonuclear one. Third place 1 — 5% will belong to the energy of biofuel and wind.
Currently, the share of renewable sources in the world energy is not large, but the scientific industrial base for the energy of the space age has already been formed. And solar energy in the coming years can go to the stage of lightning growth. Due to the emergence of new technologies, many times reducing the cost and difficult to produce solar panels.
Now, the space-age energy generators are available for sale, and people can switch to the space-age energy industry as a personal initiative. Becoming at the same time participants in the transition of world energy to the standards of space civilization.
Discuss in forum: http://cosmosclub.profiforum.ru/t30-topic#55
Fossil fuel, a source of energy for world industrialization, exhausted its potential before the transition to a space age.
The basis of modern energy is the burning of fossil fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, in the oxygen of the earth’s atmosphere. Fossil fuels are the remains of ancient plants that have been transformed from time or temperature. And they turned into natural concentrates, more caloric and convenient for industrial use, than fuel from modern plants, such as wood or briquettes from straw. Coal, this is the petrified wood of ancient forests, oil and gas, it is the fat of algae mixed with silt. Subjected to chemical transformation in the depths of the earth, at high temperature and pressure.
Energy, based on the burning of fossil fuels, facilitated and accelerated the industrial revolution. Fossil coal, made it possible to start a massive industrial production of steel. Oil fuel, facilitated the creation of a global transport infrastructure. Fuel transported through pipes, oil and gas, facilitated the development of large-scale industrial production and centralized energy.
At the present stage of development, mankind has to make a transition to the level of space civilization. To go to the cosmic level, we need to make a transition to other sources of energy. Which will make possible unlimited growth of industry on earth, and will enable to develop industry in the solar system.
Fossil fuels do not provide an opportunity to build industry and the civilization of the space age. There are too many restrictions for this task.
Fossil fuels are exhaustible, and not environmentally friendly. The reserves of oil and gas are enough for about a hundred years. While maintaining current consumption rates. Based on fossil hydrocarbon fuel, it is possible to increase the volume of world industrial production by three, four times. Not more. After that, the fuel resources will quickly run out. But global, climatic cataclysms caused by warming will begin.
The reserves of coal are much greater. At modern rates of consumption, it will suffice for 1500 — 2000 years. With a multiple increase in consumption, can suffice for hundreds of years. But burning coal on such a scale is guaranteed to lead to an ecological and climatic catastrophe.
In order to raise the population of the earth to a standard of living that is normal by modern standards, it is necessary to increase world production, at least ten times. And better 30 to 50 times. On fossil fuels, it is absolutely impossible to make such an industrial breakthrough.
It is also impossible to use organic fuel in the space industry. In space, conventional fuel is not effective.
As a source of energy for power generators, chemical fuel in space is practically not used. Because of obvious not efficiency. Sometimes in fuel cells, on satellites, a hydrogen-oxygen fuel vapor is used, but it is used in a closed cycle to store energy. Generators on hydrogen and oxygen were used in shuttles. But these machines did not have a long flight time, for them there was enough onboard fuel.
As an energy source for vehicles, chemical fuel in space is enough only to sometimes send research probes to other planets. One way, without returning back. For the flight of three people to the moon, and back, according to the Apollo program, it was necessary to burn three thousand tons of fuel. In order to ensure the full-scale industrialization of the solar system, and the supply of land with alien resources, it is necessary to freely move in space billions of tons of cargo. On chemical fuel, this is absolutely impossible.
Energy, based on the combustion of fossil fuels, played a role in the transition to an industrial level of development from the feudal one. She allowed to replace manual labor with a machine. And to improve the quality of life tenfold. But for the transition to the space age, a new energy is needed. Fossil fuels have too low potential and too many deterrents. Establishing a ceiling of growth, through which the energy of fossil fuels can not cross.
To go to the level of space civilization, humanity needs to move on to new types of mass energy.
What can be the energy of space civilization?
Of the possible sources of energy to replace fossil fuel combustion, either nuclear, or thermonuclear, or solar energy can come. As fuel for earth transport, a transition to synthetic fuel from oil is likely. In space, for movement, the energy of solar, atomic or thermonuclear generators will be used. Each of these energy sources has its advantages and disadvantages.
Atomic energy is a high-potential energy source. In the sense that a small amount of fuel makes it possible to obtain high energy capacities. Nuclear power plants do not emit greenhouse gases and do not need constant fuel supply. Atomic reactors, can work for a long time at one fuel station. In this, the main advantages of nuclear power plants.
The main drawbacks of radioactive contamination. Details of used nuclear reactors are a long-term source of radiation. They need to be buried after the development of the resource. In the event of a nuclear reactor accident, they can cause local environmental disasters, such as the Chernobyl disaster, or Fukushima.
In the future, nuclear power will definitely get mass distribution. But it will not become the basis of world energy, it will remain secondary, just as it is now.
Atomic rectors of the future will consume the uranium isotope — 238. The so-called «Depleted Uranium», the most affordable and cheap type of uranium, whose resources on earth will last for thousands of years. Reactors will be built underground, at great depths. And after the development of the resource, or in the event of an accident, will be poured with liquid concrete, molten salt, or molten glass. After that they will turn into safe, radioactive burial grounds.
Atomic reactors will also be used in space. As energy generators for powerful orbital tugboats. Transport ships capable of moving heavy loads, with low fuel costs. Or as part of power plants on alien bases, especially at a great distance from the sun.
Thermonuclear reactors are now a promising technology, as an energy source. These devices are very complex, and so far technological progress has not reached such a level of development to use fusion reactors as sources of industrial power. Now, there are only experimental, thermonuclear reactors.
In the coming decades, perhaps the technology will be able to get sufficient development to create commercial thermonuclear reactors. With thermonuclear fusion, hopes for pure nuclear power are connected. Use of thermonuclear reaction of synthesis, which does not give radioactive contamination, radiation of neutrons. But in practice, the creation of clean fusion reactors is not an easy task.
Now the technologies of experimental thermonuclear reactors working on a mixture of heavy isotopes of hydrogen «Deuterium» and «Tritium» have been mastered. This reaction occurs at a relatively low temperature, 100 million degrees, but with the release of neutrons.
Promising thermonuclear reactors on isotopes of hydrogen, as dirty as modern atomic reactors. Only much more complicated and much more expensive. In mass energy, the benefits are doubtful. But in space, they can be very useful, since they allow you to create relatively light and compact engines with low fuel consumption and high power.
Net reactions of thermonuclear fusion, go at temperatures from one billion degrees and higher. It is ten times higher than the reaction of burning of heavy isotopes of hydrogen. Accordingly, to create a clean thermonuclear reactor is an order of magnitude more complex than a dirty reactor with hydrogen isotopes.
Some reactions of thermonuclear fusion, do not give collateral radioactive particles. The fuel for such reactions is either a mixture of hydrogen isotopes with helium 3, or a mixture of hydrogen and boron isotopes. But the temperature of pure thermonuclear reactions is ten times higher than that of heavy hydrogen isotopes. Accordingly, the creation of reactors on clean fuel, the task is an order of magnitude more complex than the construction of reactors on hydrogen isotopes.
Now studies are underway to create experimental, industrial, thermonuclear reactors. The largest of which is the ITER project. Official website:https://www.iter.org/
Perhaps in the next ten, fifteen years, there will be commercial thermonuclear reactors. But they will not make any revolution in the energy sector. These cars are too complicated and expensive. So they will not become mass in the next few decades.
Perhaps in 20 — 40 years, industrial reactors will appear on pure fuel, which does not emit neutrons in the course of the reaction. But such reactors will be very large, complex and expensive. This will be mega projects in the energy sector. They will be able to join the world energy. As powerful, clean, and inexhaustible sources of energy. But the main drawback of any giant projects, slow growth, is unlikely to allow fusion reactors to take a significant share in the world energy industry in the not too distant future. If thermonuclear reactors become one of the main sources of energy, then it will happen in the distant future, 50 years and later.
Thermonuclear reactors as space engines.
Thermonuclear reactors have all the necessary characteristics to become engines of transport orbital ships of the future. In the process of thermonuclear reactions, a lot of energy is released. By specific energy, thermonuclear fuel is the most effective of known fuels. Apart from anti-matter, but this fuel is too complex for the foreseeable future.
Thermonuclear fuels are approximately 4 times more effective than atomic fuels, in terms of weight. In space, the products of thermonuclear reactions can be emitted in the form of a jet stream. Receiving reactive traction, almost unlimited power, with very low fuel consumption.
Ships on thermonuclear engines will be able to fly freely within the solar system. At the same time developing high speed, carrying loads weighing in thousands or millions of tons.
Modern ships on chemical or ionic engines allow sending to different planets and asteroids of the solar system, single research probes. The weight of which is usually within a few hundred kilograms.
Heavy ships with thermonuclear engines will be able to carry loads comparable in mass to modern cargo ships, and many times more. If you want, you can increase the speed of flight, 2 — 10 times, with reduced payload. The range of their flight within the solar system will be practically unlimited. They can make several flights from one end of the solar system to another, on one fuel station.
Thermonuclear engines will allow the free movement of industrial equipment, mobile enterprises and resources in the solar system. Discovering ample opportunities for its industrial development.
Perhaps, space thermonuclear engines will appear in the next 20 to 30 years. But it is unlikely that they will become widespread in the coming decades. If several thermonuclear tugboats are created, they will be single. The basis of the orbital transport fleet of the next decades will be tugs with electrically reactive engines on thin-film solar batteries or nuclear generators.
Thermonuclear reactors, one of the promising areas for the development of energy and space transportation of the future. But the projects of thermonuclear reactors are too complicated, expensive and long-term. For the next few decades, they are difficult to implement. Therefore, thermonuclear reactors have no chance in the future of 20-40 years, to become mass. Become one of the foundations of industrial energy and space transportation systems.
Probably, thermonuclear reactors will be widely used in more distant periods, 50 years later. When there will already be a massive industrial development of the solar system. But in the period of transition to the cosmic level, the basis of energy and transport, there will be more simple and affordable, solar, and nuclear power sources.
Solar energy is the energy of a star located in the center of the solar system, and propagating in the form of light radiation.
The advantages of solar energy, in its ubiquitous availability in conditions of land and space. In its unlimited resources and ecological purity. The sun is a natural thermonuclear reactor. The power of the energy emitted by it is practically unlimited. Solar energy is clean from an ecological point of view.
The main disadvantages of solar energy is its absent-mindedness. And in the conditions of the earth, the dependence of solar radiation on the conditions of climate, weather, and time of day. The average solar radiation power is about 100 watts per square meter. This is not bad for a natural, source. But still not enough for industrial power. In the industry it is necessary to receive energy flows from several thousand to several billion watts. Therefore, for the industry convenient, powerful, high-potential, energy sources.
But the dispersion of solar energy can be compensated for by its concentration. With the help of mirrors that can be cheap and easy. For example, a plastic film. Or produced locally from the footsteps, for example, from fibrous ceramics. Light is radiation, and it can be concentrated by mirrors into streams with high energy capacity. The power of concentrated radiation depends on the area of the mirrors and the quality of the concentration. In places where there is a lot of free space, such as deserts or open space, it is possible to build solar power plants of industrial capacity. From hundreds of megawatts to several gigawatts.
The basic ways of converting solar energy into electrical energy are photo elements, and thermal generators that work from concentrated light.
Photocells, converters of light energy into electricity.
Photocells are two layers of a semiconductor, with different types of conductivity. When irradiated with light, in an N-type semiconductor (negative), an excess of electrons is formed, in another «P-type» (positive), a defect. And electrons flow over wires from one layer of semiconductor to another, forming thus an electric circuit. The transition between layers of a semiconductor with different types of conductivity is called «P-N», a transition.
The main types of photocells. It:
Made from silicon plates. And they are divided into several types.
Silicon on monocrystals, the most expensive, but have a high efficiency, 15 — 20%. And the most durable, on average, serve 25 years. The drawbacks of monocrystalline solar cells are that they work well only with precise orientation to the sun. Why do we need movable frames that automatically turn to the sun. And also reduce the efficiency at heating above 25 degrees Celsius, by 0,4 — 0,5% with each additional degree. Usually, they are used in solar power plants.
Silicon, polycrystalline silicon, are cheaper, but their efficiency is slightly lower than 12-15%. Service life without loss of quality, 15 — 20 years. Polycrystalline photocells do not require precise orientation in the sun, but they also decrease the efficiency at elevated temperatures. Usually used in individual generators. For energy supply of houses, greenhouses, and the like.
Photocells on amorphous silicon. The cheapest, but they have low efficiency, 6 — 8%. And they are not durable, they serve for several years. The latest modifications of solar cells on amorphous silicon, more durable, can work for more than 10 years. Batteries of this type work well in diffuse light and do not reduce efficiency at high temperatures. Usually used in auxiliary low power generators, such as mobile devices for recharging laptops or phones.
Photocells that do not contain silicon:
Photocells on cadmium telluride. They have an efficiency of 10 — 12%, at a price comparable to silicon solar panels. The main disadvantage is the toxicity of the cadmium metal in their composition.
Film photocells on rare earth metals. As a rule, these photocells are based on indium-copper-gallium selenide (CIGS) or indium-copper selenide (CIS). The efficiency of elements on rare-earth metals averages 15 — 18%. Some modifications reach up to 30%. Photocells on rare-earth metals consist of a thin film, a thickness of about 1 micrometer, microns. Their main advantages are a combination of low weight and high efficiency. The main drawback, high price, which is several times higher than the most common silicon elements. Photocells on rare earth metals are used wherever lightness is needed and the price does not have a critical value. In space, on electric transport, in portable solar generators of various kinds.
One of the advantages of photocells on rare earth metals, the ability to work stably at high temperatures 130-150 degrees Celsius, without loss of efficiency. Allow to use them in conjunction with solar concentrators. In which the mirrors concentrate light on photocells. Multiply increasing the influx of solar energy to them. Complexes of concentrators and photocells are advantageous in that concentrators repeatedly increase the efficiency of solar panels. But at the same time, they are cheap.
Organic photocells. They are made on the basis of conductive organic substances. Such as, fullerenes, polyphenylene, or copper phthalocyanine. The main advantages of organic photocells are the simplicity and low cost of production. The main drawback is low efficiency, about 5 — 7%. In recent years, active progress has been made in the development of organic photocells, and elements with sufficient efficiency of 10 to 14% have begun to appear on the market. So, the film batteries of the German company Heliatek have efficiency, up to — 13%.
Official website: https://www.heliatek.com/en/
Article. Types of solar panels: https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/…/2015/09/types-of-solar-panels
Wikipedia. Types of solar cells: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_types_of_solar_cells
Solar panels with several P — N junctions.
Inexpensive photocells distributed on the mass market have as a rule one p-n junction. But there are varieties of photocells with several p — n transitions. The so-called «Multi-element photocells». They have high efficiency, but also a high price.
Photocells with several p — n junctions are designed for sequential absorption of several spectra of sunlight, optimal for each separate transition. Typically, such photocells have three p — n junctions operating in the red, green, and blue spectrum.
The efficiency of multi-element photocells, reaches 30 — 45%. By the efficiency of energy conversion, they are comparable to internal combustion engines, or turbine heat generators. But because of the high price, multi-element photocells are not widely used. They are used mainly in space, or as generators, together with mirror solar concentrators. As part of the complexes, the concentrator is the solar panel.
Wikipedia. Multiple element photocells: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-junction_solar_cell
Solar batteries with prisms.
Another type of solar cells of increased efficiency are solar batteries, which include prisms that decompose the sunlight into several spectra. And several different types of photocells arranged in bands, and absorbing the spectra of light that are optimal for their generation. Photocells with prisms have high efficiency. But they are too expensive for mass use. Because of the prisms, they have a high weight. And they require precise orientation in the sun. Perhaps in the future, solar cells with prisms will become cheaper and more affordable. But now they are too expensive and not convenient for mass use.
Lens solar panels.
In the solar panels, lenses are sometimes used. Cheap plastic lenses work like concentrators. Concentrating the sunlight on small photocells. And due to this, it is possible to reduce the area of photocells tenfold. Lens solar cells require precise orientation in the sun. When the market did not have cheap photocells, lens solar cells were considered an alternative way to reduce the cost of solar energy. Now they do not have mass distribution.
Photocells based on the type of semiconductors «Perovskite», which can serve as a cheap substitute for silicon, are considered a promising version of the mass photovoltaic of the future.
Photovoltaic cells on perovskite are much easier to manufacture and cheaper than silicon ones. Their main disadvantage is low efficiency. But in recent years, scientists have been able to increase their efficiency to acceptable values, and some firms are preparing to start their mass production.
Photocells on perovskite are 5 to 7 times cheaper than traditional silicon ones. If they enter the mass market. Their appearance will make a revolution in solar energy. Solar energy will be significantly cheaper than other sources of energy, will become mass and widespread. It will become one of the foundations of world energy.
Articles on perovskite photocells 1: https://news.energysage.com/perovskite-solar-cells/
2: https://www.electronicsweekly.com/…/perovskite-materials-so… 2017-05 /
Wikipedia. Perovskite photocells: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perovskite_solar_cell
The general properties of photocells, as converters of solar radiation into electrical energy, are: Convenience in operation. Solar panels, technically simple devices. There are no moving parts, only auxiliary motors, turning panels towards the sun. Therefore, solar panels can work for years, almost without the need for repair and maintenance.
Modern solar cells do not have high efficiency and a high price. Solar power stations, and individual power plants pay for themselves, on average 5 to 12 years. Economically, they are ineffective. At present, photocells are no longer an auxiliary source of energy. They are often used in solar power plants. Or as independent, autonomous sources of energy for individual use. But they have not yet become truly massive. At the same time, solar panels are constantly becoming cheaper. In the field of photo generation, new technologies are emerging. If prices for photocells decrease by 2-3 times, photovoltaic generators will become real competitors of fossil fuel power stations. The widespread use of photovoltaic generators will begin, and they will become one of the main sources of energy in the world energy.
Thermal generators, powered by solar concentrators, mirrors that concentrate light.
Solar radiation can be turned into an electric current, not only by direct generation of an electric current in photocells. But also through thermal machines, the source of heat for which is the sunlight concentrated by mirrors.
Mechanical generators that work from solar heat are close analogues of traditional thermal machines, such as steam engines or turbine generators of power plants. Only they do not work from chemical heat, combustion of fuel, but from the heat of sunlight.
Thermal solar generators can be hybrid. Work from both the sun and the combustion of fuel. This is one of their advantages. Since solar energy is not constant. It depends on the time of day and weather conditions. Hybrid heat sources can work stably and permanently. When there is sun, work from concentrators, when there is no direct sunlight, work from fuel. Fuel can be used as traditional fuel, coal, gas, oil, and inexpensive renewable fuel, such as vegetable fiber granules, or firewood.
Machines for converting thermal energy into electrical energy are of two main types. Piston engines and turbines.
Turbine generators are widely used in thermal power plants, or power plants of large ships. They are convenient for powerful, industrial generators.
Piston, steam engines, were previously distributed in locomotives. Now they are used in steam engines with a closed cycle of the working fluid, Stirling engines. Stirling generators are multi-fuel thermal generators that can consume almost any kind of fuel. But they can also work from concentrated sunlight.
Complexes from solar concentrators and Stirling generators, are convenient for low-power power plants or generators for individual use. Hybrid generators in sunlight and organic fuels can be handy in rural areas. So there is enough free space for solar concentrators, and there are a lot of farm waste, such as straw or husk, from which you can make cheap solid fuels. In the form of pellets or briquettes. Such hybrid generators can work entirely on renewable energy sources, sun and plant biomass. But if necessary, can switch to fossil fuels.
Wikipedia. Concentrator solar power plant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentrated_solar_power
An article on an industrial, concentrator, solar power plant in Morocco: https://www.weforum.org/…/morocco-is-building-a-solar-farm-… -sahara-desert /
Article. About small concentrators working in conjunction with Stirling generators. 1: http://www.solartronenergy.com/…/electricity-stirling-engi…/
2. A generator with a thermal energy storage capable of operating on gas fuel: http://www.unitedsunsystems.com/ technology / # csp
Economic efficiency of solar energy.
The average cost of solar energy, at present, on average, is in the range of 1 to 5 dollars per watt of generated capacity. Accordingly, 1 — 5 thousand dollars per kilowatt. 1 — 5 million per megawatt. Or 1- 5 billion dollars for gigawatts. This generation cost is comparable to traditional power plants, fossil fuels, or nuclear power. Solar power plants are profitable, but they have long payback periods, 5 to 12 years. They are able to compete with traditional energy sources, but they are not super-profitable, they can not create a rush demand and quickly take the niche of traditional energy.
Autonomous solar generators include not only the generators themselves, but also devices for accumulating energy. Accumulators of electric current, or thermal accumulators, for industrial, concentrator, power stations. Electric accumulators, increase the cost of small, autonomous, generating systems. Therefore, solar panels are advantageous to use as an auxiliary energy source. Or in combination with other, autonomous generators. For example, to have in the house a complex of solar generators, wind generators and thermal generators, Stirling, or an internal combustion engine.
Now in the field of solar generators of various types, there is active progress. Solar generators are rapidly developing and becoming cheaper. Now, the cost of generating inexpensive photocells is about 70 — 90 cents per watt. If the price of generation by solar generators is reduced to 50 — 30 cents per watt, and lower. Solar generators will begin to actively displace other sources of energy, moving from the category of auxiliary, to the category of basic.
Now, installing fully autonomous, solar energy systems in individual homes is expensive. But auxiliary solar generators, of small power, are not expensive and convenient. Solar generators, with modern prices, are beneficial for equipping mobile homes, on a wheeled or floating base. Small portable solar panels are quite cheap for ordinary consumers. And convenient as energy sources for electronic devices, smartphones or laptops. Or light electric vehicles, such as electric scooters, light electric cars, or electric boats.
Biofuel is also a source of energy for the space age. Unlike solar energy, its resources are limited. Since biofuel is a product of the accumulation of solar energy by plant organisms. And the volumes of plant biomass on earth are limited. And their industrial use should also be limited so as not to damage the ecosystem.
The principles of organizing the industrial activities of the space age, suggest not only the development of high technologies in various fields. But also the maximum use of accessible, local resources, in different spheres. In the energy sector, such an easily accessible, local, resource for the earth, is a fuel of biological origin.
Biological fuel is basically carbohydrates of vegetable origin, such as «Cellulose», which consists of the skeletons of plants. Starch, or sugar, which plants accumulate as a supply of nutrients. Or products of chemical processing of these carbohydrates. It is also possible to use vegetable fats as a fuel.
The main types of biofuel are:
Solid biofuels. The simplest and most ancient variety of which is wood, or briquettes of straw, which served as fuel since ancient times. Now solid biofuel is mainly used in the form of granules, consisting of crushed, dry plant fiber. Fuel pellets «Pellets» make mainly from waste wood processing, and agricultural waste, such as straw, husk, or husk. Granulated solid biofuel is characterized by increased caloric content and convenience for automatic feeding systems. Pellets are loose, convenient to transport, or fed from bins in the oven in automatic mode. Granulated, solid biofuel, the cheapest and most massive. Its main drawback is that it can not be used as a fuel for transportation.
But solid fuel can be converted to a gaseous form, using the devices of «gas generators». The principle of operation of which, in the combustion of solid fuel with a lack of air. As a result, a mixture of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and hydrogen, a high-calorie feed for the motors, is formed. And on fuel pellets, promising machines with steam engines can work.
Ethyl alcohol, produced from plant foods with a high sugar content or starch. Basically, waste processing sugar cane or grain. Used as a motor fuel in developing countries with a warm climate, and a well-developed agrarian industry. Mostly in Latin America.
Vegetable oil, from some highly productive oilseeds, such as Rapeseed, is used for the production of Biodiesel. Biodiesel, mainly produced and used in Europe.
Disadvantages of modern varieties of motor biofuel, is that they are produced by products that can be used to feed people. Alcohol that is produced from non-edible waste is also widely used in medicine and industry. And to burn it is rather wasteful, from the point of view of saving world, food, resources.
Synthetic liquid fuel, produced from cheap plant fiber, could be a good alternative to alcohol and biodiesel from edible vegetable oil. But modern technologies for the production of synthetic gasoline from plant biomass are too expensive and do not have a mass distribution. Now, promising technologies are being developed, direct distillation of plant fiber into motor fuel, with heating with catalysts. Or direct conversion of fiber into substances like gasoline with the help of genetically modified microorganisms. But these technologies have not yet reached the mass market.
Growing algae with a high fat content, is considered one of the alternative methods of producing biological fuel. Algae grow rapidly and are convenient for industrial cultivation. Fat of algae is a high-calorie and universal fuel, similar in its properties to oil. Fat can be used as fuel for diesel engines, aircraft turbines, furnace furnaces, power plants or boiler houses. Or recycle into gasoline, similar to refining.
The main advantages of biofuel, is that it is cheap, renewable, environmentally friendly and widely distributed. The main shortcomings in the limited resources. World biofuel resources are too small for it to become the basis for the fuel and energy industry of the future. This direction can only be ancillary.
Generation of electricity due to wind energy, is one of the fuel-free, clean, energy sources. From renewable, readily available sources of energy, wind energy is the least efficient and highly dependent on weather conditions. Wind generators are beneficial only in regions with constant winds. In regions where there are no permanent strong winds, wind generators are not cost-effective.
The average payback period of wind generators is from 2 to 10 years. From the economic point of view, the most profitable small, low-power, «Home», wind generators. Since they are of low cost, they do not require the installation of a foundation, and expensive maintenance. Accordingly, they have a short payback period, about 2 to 5 years. For power supply at home, it is always better to buy several low-power wind generators, with a capacity of about 1000 watts, than one powerful one, by 5-10 thousand watts.
Wind generators are on average inferior in efficiency to solar or biofuel energy sources. But their effectiveness depends on the specific conditions. So in the northern regions, in an open area, where there is little sun, but plenty of wind, solar generators can be effective. And they can play the role of basic, fuel-free energy sources. But in most cases, wind generators are good as stand-by sources of energy. And they can work in complex systems of independent power supply, together with solar and thermal generators.
In the future, the new industrial structure can reduce the cost of wind generators and increase their profitability. Due to the production of the heaviest parts, racks and rotors at mobile micro enterprises. From local resources, sand or rocky soil. Wind generators, consisting of fibrous ceramic and mineral cloth, produced near the installation site, will cost less.
The energy of the space age, and its probable evolution, from the present time to the civilization of the cosmic level.
In the energy of the space era, the main share will be occupied by solar energy. Atomic rectors of new generations, fueled by depleted uranium, will take a secondary position. Approximately the same as what nuclear power is now, in relation to fossil fuels. At present, nuclear energy occupies 10% of the world’s energy, in the future, perhaps, its share will grow to 30%. Renewable biofuel, also will occupy an auxiliary position. But the biofuel industry will actively develop. Thermonuclear energy, too complicated and expensive. It will not be able to develop actively in the coming decades. Perhaps in 50 years, there will appear pure synthesis reactors that do not release neutrons. And then pure thermonuclear reactors can become one of the foundations of the world energy system and space transportation systems.
The main source of energy capable in the near future to replace fossil fuels, provide energy resources for a new industrial breakthrough and the transition of mankind to the cosmic level, is solar energy. It comes from a free, clean source, its resources are inexhaustible. Unlike atomic energy, solar generators are not only industrial, but also small and mobile, convenient for the decentralized industry of a new way of life.
For an approximate estimation of solar energy resources for the earth, one can give an example. To fully ensure the Earth’s energy, with the current level of technology, we need a solar power station occupying the area of France. In the desert regions, such as the deserts of northern and central Africa, Asia and North America, dozens of areas with the area of France are freely located. It is logical to assume that with a decrease in the price of solar energy, desert regions in the equatorial and subequatorial latitudes will be built up by solar power plants. And they will turn into global clusters of energy and industry. Capable of ensuring the growth of energy and production is tens of times higher than today’s. This is not counting small, and individual solar generators, evenly distributed throughout the planet. And solar generators are water and air (airships), basing. The total supply of solar energy to the earth is 4,000 times higher than the needs of modern energy. The resources of solar energy for a new industrial breakthrough that will accompany the transition of mankind to a new industrial structure on earth is enough.
With the onset of mass industrialization of the cosmos, solar energy will be transferred to outer space. Where its resources by terrestrial standards are absolutely inexhaustible. And they make it possible to provide with energy the industrialization of the solar system close to the sun, from Mercury, to the main belt of asteroids.
The construction of orbital solar power plants will begin simultaneously with the construction of other elements of the space transport and industrial infrastructure. In space, sunlight can be collected in powerful currents, with the help of concentrators consisting of a thin mirror film, of micron thickness. Such a film is cheap and easy. In the conditions of space, the absence of gravity and wind, it is possible to build giant areas of ultra-thin mirror concentrators that have high productivity with low mass. Concentrated sunlight can be converted into electricity by means of thermal generators, or special photocells with high efficiency and designed to work at high temperatures.
The energy generated at the orbital stations can be transported to the earth in the form of microwave beams. Delivering it to the right regions without long power lines, oil tankers, or pipes for oil and gas transportation, thousands of kilometers long.
Decentralized, mass solar energy, consisting of small generators, will develop simultaneously with industrial solar power plants. Technological progress will lead to the continuous improvement of solar cells, and other individual solar generators. Their cost will decrease, their efficiency will increase. The market will be distributed thin-film solar cells, convenient in global trade, as they can be sold by postal parcels.
The modern industry of individual solar cells and low-power solar power plants is the direct predecessor of the decentralized solar energy of the space age. Now decentralized solar energy takes a small share in the energy sector, the land percentage of the percentage. But, nevertheless, this is the already established mass industry.
Modern individual power supply systems, power from several kilowatts to tens of kilowatts, on solar generators. Capable of providing energy at home. For economic benefit, they are now on the same level as the centralized power supply. They are profitable, but they have a very long payback period, 5 to 7 years. Now solar panels pass the price barrier, which will make them from an exotic way of energy supply to the mass. The cost of solar panels is constantly declining, from 2006 to 2016, in ten years, it has decreased from $ 3.50 to $ 0.7 per watt of generated capacity. And for 2017 it dropped to $ 0.49 per watt. Now in the middle of 2018 is approaching $ 0.42 per watt. After reducing the price 2 to 3 times, individual solar generators will become more profitable than centralized energy supply, and their active, widespread distribution will begin.
In the future, the development of a new industrial way of life. Light, mobile manufacturing micro enterprises will also stimulate the development of individual solar energy systems. Since an autonomous power source will allow micro enterprises to operate independently of electrical networks. Will make them more independent in the work. A modern analogue of the micro enterprise of the future, it is a 3D printer that operates from portable solar panels. Or a micro workshop located in a trailer running from solar panels on the roof and walls.
Light and portable solar generators, serving as auxiliary sources of energy, for recharging electronic devices, such as laptops or cell phones. Or individual electric transport, such as electric scooters, bicycles, or mini karting. Now profitable, and convenient for individual consumers. Their price is not high, but they add freedom and convenience in life, allowing the use of electronic devices and light electric transport, regardless of centralized electrical networks.
In this post, I listed the main types of energy in the space age.
Energy-insignificant space-age, alternative sources of energy, such as modern hydro-power plants, tidal power plants or geothermal energy, did not. Since they do not have the potential to become the basis of the global energy system of space civilization. They are too local. Tied to a specific location and they have too limited resources.
The sources of energy listed in the post are highly likely to constitute the global energy system of space civilization.
The dominant place in the energy of the space era is solar energy. The sun is an inexhaustible source of energy, both for the earth industry, and for the future solar system industry.
Modern solar energy, including individual generators, is a direct predecessor of the space industry’s energy industry. Working on the basis of the same principles and technologies, on which the global energy of space civilization will operate. This is the foundation on which the solar energy of space civilization will develop.
The sources of energy listed in the post are predecessors of the global energy system of space civilization. Using them for themselves, people can become participants of the space age industry in the energy sphere. Receive for yourself the benefits and benefits that independent energy provides. And by its participation contribute to the reformatting of modern, terrestrial, power engineering to the standards of the energy of space civilization.
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