Colonizing Luna, part 3: Energy


Originally written: 8 August 2005. Previous | Overview | Next


Earth-built photovoltaic panels, batteries, fuel-cell/electrolysis pairs.


Luna-built photovoltaic arrays, parabolic solar ovens for manufacturing, possibly thermoelectric.

Massive, solar-powered?compulsators; alternators capable of delivering massive pulses of electricity.


At present the most efficient photovoltaic cells are still p/n-doped monocrystalline silica wafers. Hopefully the necessary rare metals are available on Luna for their production. Large PV arrays should remain low low and wide so that flying vehicles do not hit them. Near the south pole, one simple geometry is a circular fence of outward-facing, fixed-position panels. These can be placed on hills, and around both habitats and compulsators. This simple, no-moving-parts configuration is inefficient, but its simplicity and reliability may offset the cost once PV wafers can be manufactured on Luna in large quantities.


Initial flywheels will be disks of iron just light enough for an astronaut to lift (carefully) under Lunar gravity. These disks can be stacked together on spindles, like gymnastic freeweights, to make high-mass cylindrical flywheels. In addition to powering compulsators, flywheels can store mechanical energy for direct use in machinery such as roller-slabs.

The massive compulsators needed to drive the mag-launcher will require flywheels the size of gravitats. These should also be situated in craters, so that if they malfunction and disintegrate the debris will impact the crater walls, and not threaten the rest of the base. The spindle may include an electric motor/generator assembly, or a separate ‘spin-up’ motor if the winding of the compulsator needs to be a different geometry.


The temperatures in the lunar shade are low enough for ‘high-temperature’ superconductivity to be sustained so long as materials are insulated from heat-conduction and perhaps refrigerated slightly. This makes Meisser bearings, mag-lev tracks, and the movement of large amounts of electricity feasible. At this point the main constituent elements in higher-tempreature superconductors are either copper, titanium and oxygen for cuprate-perskovite materials, or ytrrium (La), copper, oxygen, and barium (YBCO). So an important early feasibility-test will be the availability of these materials and their refinability.

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