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4.10.2005

Space Elevator Update

Do nuclear waste storage options need to be only as good as the time it takes to build a space elevator?

What do you expect the outcome for private ownership of land on extra-terra to be? Will any regulation be made irrelevant by settlers who can't be evicted?

Time frame for the majority of energy in developed countries to come from space-based solar cells?

3 Comments:

At 3:11 PM, Blogger joško said...

>Do nuclear waste storage options need to be only as good as the time it takes to build a space elevator?

I think Yucca Mt. is a good idea, but I read a NG article (July02) about American nuclear waste written by a pro-nuclear energy, pro-MAD doctrine, pro-Yucca former marine saying that the amount of waste _already_ in exsistence in America will fill 80% of Yucca. In a decade or two we'd need to build another one. Given the cost of building and maintaining (~$400B USD over the first 75 years) and headaches associated with lobbying and bribing the hosting state, this is obviously not a long term solution.

(Most of the waste is from weapon development and testing, and most of it is low grade waste in the form of mildly toxic "tailings" from milling uranium ore. FUNFACT--If all of America's nuclear waste were put on a train, it'd go around the equator, and then some.)

Longer term solutions are:
1) Using the clean new fission reactors that produce waaay less waste.
2) Old reactors "burn" opnly 3% of their fuel. The other 97% is declared "spent" and becomes "waste." A new technology REUSES waste (old uranium and plutonium and other nasty -ium's) and burns about 99.9% of it. Tested but no govn't approval yet, not to mention that there hasn't been a new nuclear power plant opened in this country since, like, the 70's because of the public's bogey-man fear of nuclear energy.
3) The most toxic waste (like cesium and strontium) has half lives of, like, 40 years, which ain't that bad ;)!
4. Space Elevator! Cheaper than $400B USD!!!

>What do you expect the outcome for private ownership of land on extra-terra to be?

..I was wondering about this vis-a-vis the Moon. The US Govn't will probably regulate ownership to prevent any settlers from playing the "Invade Earth" or "Hulk Smash Moon" cards.

>Time frame for the majority of energy in developed countries to come from space-based solar cells?

..50 years, I reckon. At this point, though, isn't the energy required to build solar cells prohibitive? That is, doesn't it take a few years of use to get a net energy gain from currrent solar cells?

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

The size string of train cars is a bit misleading. The volume of a train 3m wide, 3m tall, winding around 40Mm of earth is about the same as a cube with a 712m edge. That's still really big though.

As for the solar cell space stuff, it has to do a lot with the efficiency of the cells. Getting them from ~25% to 60% and making them en mass would make them worth it in a few hours of unadulterated sun in orbit (not counting the energy to put them in space). That's my guess at least. A bigger concern is getting the energy back, as you would lose a lot even in a microwave laser through the clouds...

 
At 2:40 PM, Blogger joško said...

>A bigger concern is getting the energy back, as you would lose a lot even in a microwave laser through the clouds...

This is where magical room-temperature super-conductors would come in handy! Sciencemen have developed higher&higher temperature superconductors but the exotic materials are sorta like ceramics and thus shitty materials to work with (i.e., brittle) and thus inappropriate "wire"-like materials to run down a Space Elevator.

I think it's time I read the article you linked to.

For more general information that's accessable to lay-people but thorough (and a good place to send your curious future Space-Elevator-enthusiast friends), go to Wikipedia.

 

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