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Earth Leaves

If its good enough for plants....
  (+9, -8)
(+9, -8)
  [vote for,

Ok, hows this. We make a space elevator using nano tubes for the ultra high tensile earth tether. This is all good and groovy for many reasons. BUT - DON'T just stick a dead wait on the end!!! No. Put a REALLY big solar panel on the end. Nanotubes are uber conductive, being in space the panels will be highly efficient for their surface area. Everyone's happy. Loads of cheap energy, piped from the 'leaf' to earth. a nice long string, up which you can climb in to space, enabling a stupendous drop in the cost and dangers of space travel and exploration. Making off world colonisation a serious possibility (as you don't need to send a shuttle up, every time you need any more materials for your constructions). Now make a few of them, so there are always two in 'full sun'.

You could (by the reckoning of one academic I've seen commenting) make 100 of these for the cost of the Iraq war, to the US. This may be ambitious, but I certainly think 10 or more could be possible in 20 years or so for less than $20b

Who's with me?

--- edit----

OK I got lots of minus points, because I'd not made it clear that I was proposing this as a means of power production/acquisition. When I say, big solar panel, I mean a truely HUGE solar array (the likes of which the earth has never seen, etc... etc...). As the space elevator provided by the 'stalk' will allow 'easy' access to the space based solar array, the array can be added to continually.

Ballancing the position of the array can keep tensile strain on the tether within workable parameters at any one position on it. Thus 'growing the array can be an ongoing task. Until limits of material strength are reached. As the business end will have little gravitational force place upon it, the array could be the size of a fairly large country, by the time this limit was reached.

Having multiple stems/stalks could mean the support of an array that would reach nearly pole to pole in longitude.

Being unhampered by atmosphere this could go a very long way towards solving the energy crisis outright.


btw re the Iraq = 100 space elevators, see the link (suggesting a cost per elevator/stalk at being less than $10 billion) and then consider the total cost of Iraq being $1 Trillion. 1 trillion / 10 billion = 100

Most people are rightly sceptical of the accuracy of such huge figures, but I honestly think the orders of magnitude may well be accurate here.

Instine, Jul 15 2006

(?) If budget estimates are correct, we could do it for under $10 billion. http://www.space.co...vator_020327-2.html
space.com [Instine, Jul 15 2006]

Electrodynamic tether https://en.wikipedi...ectrodynamic_tether
Generating power from a cable in space [BunsenHoneydew, Jan 28 2020]


       I don't know who this academic is - but //100 of these for the cost of the Iraq war// is a stupidly huge number. Besides, who's to say what the world economy will be like when this kind of construction is actually possible.
fridge duck, Jul 15 2006

       dead wait...
lurch, Jul 15 2006

       I don't think the extra power generated would really justify the energy expened to put the solar cells there, over the lifetime of the panel. If we were lifting them via elevators instead of rockets, the numbers might be different. I don't know.
david_scothern, Jul 15 2006

       Fairly obvious, innit? I have never read of a space elevator that didn't have solar panels on it. [-]
baconbrain, Jul 15 2006

       yer. But RELLY big ones. Not piffly little one to power the lift.
Instine, Jul 15 2006

       So, if I look at this as a proposal to build a solar power station in space, I can see it differently. Most space-power ideas have hung up on the problem of getting the power to Earth. This idea is to put the solar panels in geostationary orbit and use nanotube cables to transfer the electricity. That's kinda clever. Fishbone deleted.   

       But: The idea says one big solar panel--which is crock. The title says leaves, which I thought implies a bunch of smaller panels, would work a lot better. They could be hoisted one at a time, and be used to power the lifting of new panels. The design of a "tree" would be interesting.
baconbrain, Jul 15 2006

       Now your talking baconbrain - and thanks for reducing fishiness Tho I still stick apparently. :(   

       Anyway, I agree with everything you say. I get so used to saying array, to the point I leave it out of conversation. Yes, you could 'grow' it. And yes modular or cellular design is bound to be a good thing here. Much as with many leaves/trees.   

       The stalk means you can just keep growing the leaf without the cost of space launches being the end of it. So the space elevator part is still important.
Instine, Jul 15 2006

       I like this better than making a big mirror in space and beaming concentrated solar energy down to the ground. That idea is due to be posted again soon, I feel.
bungston, Jul 16 2006

       What [baconbrain] said. Although your idea needs, uh, some tweaking, it's still a useful direction. [+]
kuupuuluu, Jul 16 2006

       Glad to see growing acceptance. So who's got the first round investment of $5 billion? I can forward my Paypal account details if required ;¬)   

       Shame you all gave me nasty minus points to start with though. May be I don't explain myself well...   

       If this is the case we'll need a PR agent too (as well as the 5 billion).
Instine, Jul 16 2006

       Instine, think about your idea more as a presentation, not a conversation. Polish the delivery a bit.   

       Can nanotubes transfer electricity at all?
RayfordSteele, Jul 16 2006

       Carbon nanotubes are incredibly conductive. They are just shy of being super conductors.   

       Are you serious about presentation? It is the Halfbakery! Not a dissertation. Or were you kidding? Anyway, could you do me a favour? Bacon Brain wanted to retract his - but couldn't I assume. Could you make a positive to make up. I don't mind admitting I quite like my idea and am sad to see it in fishbone territory. :-s
Instine, Jul 16 2006

       Makes sense, but just imagin what would happen if a solar flare hit the earth. You've just build a big collector and a cable to transmit it straight to the ground. Now harnessing that would be somthing!
vaccumac, Jul 16 2006

       Try reverse psychology. Ask for bones, instead.   

       This idea is too close to obvious for me to bun.
daseva, Jul 16 2006

       Hmmm. What would a flare do here....?   

       I should have some idea, with a very sound physics education, but sadly, I have no idea.   

       But I think the EMP that can occur during a flare 'strike' of the earth comes from charged paricals accelerating through the earths magnetic field. The further from the earth, the less acceleration occurs, and the weeker the magnetic field, and thereby the less pulse current generated. So no big freaky power surge. But probably a big cause of deteriation of the array.   

       Thanks for the pluss point to all who gave. Its cheered me up a bit. Keep them coming :)
Instine, Jul 16 2006

       Still waiting. Dead-ly.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jul 16 2006

       Does that mean something? Or is it the absinthe talking?   

       And hey with negative points again. Whats this place become? Bah!   

       We also need to breed special space cats to orientate the solar cells (see related submition by robinism).
Instine, Jul 16 2006

       [instine] when you have only one idea posted, you can't expect it to immediately be flooded with buns. in order to get the buns, you need to work out your delivery.   

       i would also like to know if this thing is manned, or if everything is done with robots.   

       P.S. you should talk to [jutta] about your account.
tcarson, Jul 16 2006

       Nope. I don't get this place anymore. I'm not here to make a proposal, just share silly ideas with like minded (silly) people. Ho hum.   

       Re robots, It doesn't really matter. But most of the work would be robotic, checks would be manual.
Instine, Jul 17 2006

       Apart from the bad science, this is not much of an idea, and anyway, the idea of putting solar cells on a space elevator was mentioned in an anno some four years ago.
ldischler, Jul 17 2006

       Okay, I just came back to this one after some time, and saw some changes. It is now clearer, and emphasizes feature that I thought were needed. I must give a croissant, and say that a geostationary solar power plant is new to me. The problems that I saw have been worked out. Bravo. [+]   

       Side note: this place isn't just for silly ideas.
baconbrain, Aug 20 2006

       A conductive cable the length of a space elevator would generate DC current all by itself, by rotating through the earth's magnetic field [link].   

       As AC is the most efficient means of transmitting power over long wires, I would assume that the spaceward end of the elevator would have a DC to AC inverter to convert the DC from the solar panels. So, at the ground station, you would have a combined DC and AC current, which you can pass through filters to extract separately and then do with as you please.   

       One point that's making me headscratch a little is this - flowing electricity requires a complete circuit, so there would have to be a second conductor up the elevator to act as the return loop. And this would generate the exact same DC flow as the positive lead, and in the same direction. I'm not sure how you create a DC return path without running into the same problem again.   

       The AC component of the current would not be affected the same way.
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 28 2020

       But would a cable rotating WITH the earth generate current, as (presumably) the magnetic field also rotates with the earth? Or does the geo-dynamo field do weird things?
neutrinos_shadow, Jan 28 2020

       The geomagnetic field is relatively constant, so as you have realized - according to the Right-Hand Dynamo Rule - since the cable is not "cutting" any field lines, no current will be induced.   

       An object orbiting in the field will have a voltage induced in it, but there's no convenient way of accessing the energy. That's probably a good thing because any actual current will cause joule heating in the structure, and the energy has to come from somewhere- in this case it's the orbital momentum of the object, causing it to deorbit faster.
8th of 7, Jan 28 2020


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