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Extracting energy from the moon

 
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NASA is already using orbital energy to power space craft to extraordinary distances. A number of probes have already left the solar system and are speeding into deep space.
The energy cost to NASA was a small fraction of what is required to achieve this task.
They accomplished this task by using what they call gravity assist or as referred to in science fiction as "the sling shot effect".
What is not often mentioned is that this energy is not free. Whenever a space craft fly's by a planet/moon the gained energy is actually extracted from the orbital energy of the body the craft fly's by.
Since most celestial bodies have massive orbital energy, the effect is de minimis and virtually imperceptible.
NASA also uses fly by's to slow craft down. They dump excess energy into a celestial body's orbital energy.

The magnitude of moons orbital energy is 36 x 10^27 Joules . The present global energy consumption of earths civilizations is about 600 x 10^18 Joules per year. Therefore the moons orbital energy could supply the earth for about 60 million years at our present usage.

After 60 million years the moon would crash into the earth so it's more reasonable to consider a shorter time line. Like maybe a thousand years. It's most likely that we would not be able to find a method to extract all our energy needs but even a sizable fraction could make a big difference. If we did get 100% here's what we could expect: In that time the moon would move about 6.5 meters per year closer to the earth. That would only amount to .0017 percent of it's present distance per year. Right now the moon is moving away from the earth at a rate of 3.78 cm per year. This added orbital energy is coming from the earths rotational energy which is actually an order of magnitude larger than the moons orbital energy. This is causing the length of a day on earth to increase by about 75,000th of a second per year. The bottom line is that there are two massive sources of energy that are available to us.

Tapping into a miniscule fraction of this energy would power civilization for a long, long time with almost imperceptible changes to dynamics of the earth/moon system. But is it possible with our present technology?

When one considers that the moons gravity causes tides and tidal energy  is already being tested/developed  see: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/tidal-energy/  perhaps this idea is not so far fetch as to be summarily dismissed.

Astro physicist have already developed the necessary physics and NASA engineers (and of course we can't ignore all the private companies like SpaceX) have developed the methods to extract and use orbital energy. To date this enormous energy source has only been used to create kinetic energy.

If you asked the following question to a group of engineers; "Who knows how to convert kinetic energy into electrical energy", I dare say everyone of them would raise their hand without giving it a second thought.

So, yes we do have the technology.

I personally have come up with a few different methods and if anyone request, I'll gladly share them.










 
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Please share!  I am under the illusion that the only way to harness that energy is with a device (space ship) that can visit the neighborhood of the moon.
 
J McKravits
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My first thought was to magnetize the moon. This could be done by placing a super conducting ring around it. It is cold enough on  the moon, if shaded, to where there are many different materials that will super conduct. The current could be maintained by solar panels on the moons surface.
Every point on the earths surface would be moving in the moons magnetic field.
A coil of wire properly orientated anywhere on the earth would have a current induced in it.
Imagine driving your car where the power came from a coil of wire powering an electric motor.

The problem with that idea became clear when someone reminded me that the earth is covered with electrical distribution cables and the moons magnetic field would wreck havoc.

My next idea is to place large magnets on the moons surface orientated so as to spin a satellite in a close flyby.
The satellite has magnets on it and just as the rotor in an electric motor spins by alternating poles the satellite would pick up angular momentum.
It would essentially become a big fly wheel. Since it is in space it would maintain it's energy. The satellite could maintain it's linear velocity by getting a gravity assist from the moon.
The satellites trajectory could be directed back toward earth and the massive rotating magnetic fly wheel could power coils. Much like a generator.
This field would be highly concentrated and could be directed in an area void of power lines.
A series of these satellites on orbital paths between the moon and earth could supply a constant stream of energy.

 
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Interesting. Big picture thinking! Sort of Trekkie, but this is the kind of thing Elon might look at.

Though I confess I'm not clear on how you will counteract the influence of the collossal magnetic field of Earth. I think that might be sort of a problem.

Edit: It occurs to me that this might work on Mars, though. Lots of rotational energy, and no magnetic field to get it the way -- and it needs one to be habitable, to deflect the solar wind.
 
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I would think that if you capped a column of air over water that rises and falls with the tide, you could harvest the compressed air at the top of the tide and the vacuum at the bottom of the tide... turn a motor with it, etc.
 
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I think we already have technology to use this orbital energy and in a few places it can actually be used.  This is tidal energy where energy is derived from rising and falling tides.  Obviously this works best in places where tides rise and fall the greatest.  The Bay of Fundy in Canada has tides that rise 60 feet!  This would be an amazing place to take advantage of tidal energy, but the local landscape would need to be substantially altered and the locals probably would not like that and for good reason.

Eric
 
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Abe Coley wrote:I would think that if you capped a column of air over water that rises and falls with the tide, you could harvest the compressed air at the top of the tide and the vacuum at the bottom of the tide... turn a motor with it, etc.


Abe you're on it! I saw something like this a group a surfers built. I'll try and find it online. They took a large cylinder fixed to a dock or pier vertically and put a modified wind turbine in the top of the cylinder. Every wave pushed air past the turbine creating enough energy to power their little surf shack.
 
James Sullivan
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Eric Hanson wrote:I think we already have technology to use this orbital energy and in a few places it can actually be used.  This is tidal energy where energy is derived from rising and falling tides.  Obviously this works best in places where tides rise and fall the greatest.  The Bay of Fundy in Canada has tides that rise 60 feet!  This would be an amazing place to take advantage of tidal energy, but the local landscape would need to be substantially altered and the locals probably would not like that and for good reason.

Eric



Eric the Nova Scotian govt has already installed a tidal generator. I think the first one was installed in 2008 and was destroyed by the tide. There is new one that was to be complete in 2021. They plan to crate enough tidal energy by 2040 to power one third of the Province.

Dont mean to hijack the post mc Kravits very interesting!
 
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I like the idea of utilizing forces of energy that happen on Earth that are related to the moon, like the tide, better than placing any kind of device on or around the moon itself. It's bad enough we cover and surround the Earth with all kinds of gizmos and materials to apparently help humanity limp along...it feels really bad to start doing that to other bodies of mass in the universe that we are not exactly aware of the long-term affects of. I'm not a scientist but I can see that what humans have done and are continuing to do here in the name of "energy" is counter-productive in a lot of ways when considering how we should probably be evolving.

On a side note...the topics here so far of "extracting energy from the moon" are lighter than what I was expecting! I envisioned Extracting = a large space ship mining operation to bring the raw materials of moon here to be crushed, cooked, mixed, liquified and dispersed to the masses of humanity for gluttonous consumption (que - evil laugh ahahahaha :) kidding but not kidding, because that's what will probably happen inevitably when some genius discovers that we can power microwave ovens with moon dust.

Interesting topic, but I must say some things are just better left alone in my little book that no one likes to read?
 
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Hmm. Moon power? Sounds like interesting science fiction, but a dang hard engineering problem. How exactly is the power getting from the spinning space probes back to the surface? Magnetic field strength drops off as a square (or is it cube?) of the distance, right? This is why the air gap in a generator or motor is measured in fractions of an inch. Low earth orbit is like 250 miles, and even that might be too close, as the there is atmosphere there that will slow a satellite and eventually crash it.

Also, the probes will need fuel to make the course corrections needed for each gravity assist, right? Even an ion drive would need reaction mass refills.

Also, if you need to build a superconducting ring on the surface of the moon, how much is it going to cost to launch all of that? The Apollo program cost nearly 200 billion in todays dollars, and all they sent was a few little buggies.

And the last thing that comes to mind for me is what sort of protection is all of this equipment going to need from solar storms? No magnetosphere in the moon, right? Giant superconductors might do interesting things during a big CME. Which reminds me, that the surface of the moon gets up to 250F during the 2 weeklong day, so you are going to need to cryogenically cool the loop anyway.


All of this makes me wonder if maybe it would be easier to build solar panels in the desert in Nevada, and just deliver the power with a superconducting electrical grid?
 
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It is not only possible but being done already. The question is, at what cost to the environment?



 
J McKravits
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Eric Hanson wrote:I think we already have technology to use this orbital energy and in a few places it can actually be used.  This is tidal energy where energy is derived from rising and falling tides.  Obviously this works best in places where tides rise and fall the greatest.  The Bay of Fundy in Canada has tides that rise 60 feet!  This would be an amazing place to take advantage of tidal energy, but the local landscape would need to be substantially altered and the locals probably would not like that and for good reason.

Eric



Great observation Eric.

See;   https://canada.constructconnect.com/dcn/news/projects/2021/01/fundy-tidal-power-project-nears-finish-line

It'll be interesting to see just how many KWH they'll be able to get out of it. They're estimated that it'll produce about the equivalent of 3000 wind turbines.

BTW, The tides are not caused by the moons orbital energy rather just the gravitational poll of the moon and to  lesser extent the sun, It is the earths rotation that is the main cause of tides.
It turns out in fact that the because of the phase relationship between the tides and the actual position of the moon, some of the earths rotational energy is actually being transferred to the moons orbital energy. Not to worry though, The earths rotational energy is about 10 times larger than the moons orbital energy.

 
J McKravits
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Cole Tyler wrote:I like the idea of utilizing forces of energy that happen on Earth that are related to the moon, like the tide, better than placing any kind of device on or around the moon itself. It's bad enough we cover and surround the Earth with all kinds of gizmos and materials to apparently help humanity limp along...it feels really bad to start doing that to other bodies of mass in the universe that we are not exactly aware of the long-term affects of.

Interesting topic, but I must say some things are just better left alone in my little book that no one likes to read?



If I had to pick a place to mess up, I rather it be the moon than the earth.
Just my preference.
 
J McKravits
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Carl Nystrom wrote:


All of this makes me wonder if maybe it would be easier to build solar panels in the desert in Nevada, and just deliver the power with a superconducting electrical grid?



That would be nice if the technology existed. The last I heard the highest temperature superconducting material had to be below -220 F.


 
J McKravits
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James Sullivan wrote:


Dont mean to hijack the post mc Kravits very interesting!



Please feel free to post on my thread anytime. It's lonely being a mad scientist.
 
J McKravits
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I just found this online. Thought I'd share it with anyone interested.

https://www.shimz.co.jp/en/topics/dream/content02/

I'm not sure microwave lasers are safe but it seems these guys figured out a way to transmit energy over great distance in space.
 
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Mike Barkley wrote:It is not only possible but being done already. The question is, at what cost to the environment?



That's the problem, isn't it.

A techno-fix that requires taking over some more of nature seems like we lose somehow, possibly in ways we won't understand for decades (such as rivers blocked by dams). Ideas that fit into/onto works that we already have built (solar panels on roofs, those tidal generators on an old pier) seem like a good use. Ideas that improve functions, rather than degrade them? A solar array over a parking lot at an office building near me, as an example: space for 150 cars, all covered. No more broiling hot cars in the summertime (eliminate remote starting to run your A/C?), no more scraping snow and ice off them in the winter, less snow plowing (just the entrance/exit and margins (not around the cars), possibly less heat than the sun hitting the asphalt paving (which might also last longer)?

A tidal system like in the second video (my guess by the thumbnail) where the generators are moored, could be combined with an aquaculture project like Bren Smith's (which requires moorings), for growing kelp and shellfish, for food and fertilizer, while also providing habitat for fish, and barriers to destructive waves. Add electricity to the project? Maybe you get to run an electric boat? (instead of diesel) Maybe you tow/swap a battery barge or buoy and sell power back at shore, or maybe there's a big enough operation that could run a cable ashore or to an island (which often run diesel generators for power)?
 
J McKravits
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:

A techno-fix that requires taking over some more of nature seems like we lose somehow, possibly in ways we won't understand for decades (such as rivers blocked by dams). Ideas that fit into/onto works that we already have built (solar panels on roofs, those tidal generators on an old pier) seem like a good use. Ideas that improve functions, rather than degrade them? A solar array over a parking lot at an office building near me, as an example: space for 150 cars, all covered. No more broiling hot cars in the summertime (eliminate remote starting to run your A/C?), no more scraping snow and ice off them in the winter, less snow plowing (just the entrance/exit and margins (not around the cars), possibly less heat than the sun hitting the asphalt paving (which might also last longer)?

A tidal system like in the second video (my guess by the thumbnail) where the generators are moored, could be combined with an aquaculture project like Bren Smith's (which requires moorings), for growing kelp and shellfish, for food and fertilizer, while also providing habitat for fish, and barriers to destructive waves. Add electricity to the project? Maybe you get to run an electric boat? (instead of diesel) Maybe you tow/swap a battery barge or buoy and sell power back at shore, or maybe there's a big enough operation that could run a cable ashore or to an island (which often run diesel generators for power)?



Modern solar panels only have an albedo of .02 whereas the earth has an average albedo of .29. That means that solar panels capture 15 times more solar energy per unit area than what would be captured normally. It may turn into electricity and then into light, heat or a power a television but ultimately it just becomes heat. Of course some can be stored in batteries but that too eventually becomes more heat.
You could argue that it's just a tiny amount of disturbance to nature,  but then you should consider the tiny disturbance to nature that other methods or ideas will have.

 
Kenneth Elwell
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"If only there were a fusion reactor in the sky that delivers energy to the earth on a daily basis..."

"If only we could harness the power of the Moon without having to go get it..."

Before we go "Luna-forming" the Moon into a power station, maybe we could Terra-form a tidal generator network on Earth.

Look at what we humans have/are doing... Three Gorges Dam in China, novelty islands in Dubai, Colorado River that no longer reaches the sea (except by decree).
We know (or certainly could know better) what makes places like the Bay of Fundy such tidal powerhouses. Geographically, the underwater terrain, and so on...
What if we "create" many Bays of Fundy??

Probably not feasible to excavate our way out of sea-level rise... unless we want to flood Death Valley and the Salton Sea and a bunch of other low-lying places.
 
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