Lunar-produced solar cells

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halman

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Thank you for the link. This is another bolt in the arsenal of Lunar return justification. If a lander carrying a few of the robots mentioned in the article could be sent to the area selected for the first outpost a couple of years in advance, it would help a great deal. It would also give us some data on rates of meteoric dust fall, and, perhaps, a statistical analysis of impacts large enough to cause habitat integrity failure. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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bobvanx

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Even with the low efficiency that seems likely, having any sort of ability to leverage your landed assets is a huge bonus.<br /><br />Little solar-powered roving solar cell factories, laying cells out behind, with a nice glassy causeway nearby to keep dust down from future activity... just pick the number of years you want that factory running, and that's how much energy you have waiting for you!<br /><br />Even some small amount, like 50kw, would be amazing and enough to enable the development of higher-efficiency in-situ processes.
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"Even with the low efficiency that seems likely, having any sort of ability to leverage your landed assets is a huge bonus. "</font><br /><br />Kinda-sorta. It's certainly an important step -- but the efficiency will need to go up significantly to really make it feasible. Mind you I expect that can happen, as this is just a baby step. However -- this is far from a near-production technology. <br /><br />The robots are only manufacturing the base, not the cells themseleves. This means they will have a limited number of completed cells that they can manufacture before running out of parts. The article says that the base of a solar panel "makes up the majority of its mass", but does not give an actual figure. More than 50% obviously, but how much more? Dunno. For a working figure, let's assume 90% of the mass is the base (my own bet is that this is high, but that's just a WAG). This would mean that ten times the amount of solar cell 'bits' could be sent to the moon in lieu of conventionally manufactured cells. However -- given that they would then have an efficiency of 1% in lieu of the standard 20%... only half as much power would be created by mass. Going further -- if instead of assuming the 'conventional' 20% efficiency, you were to use the triple-junction cells normally used for space operations today (~35% efficiency), less than a third of the energy would be produced by mass. <br /><br />So -- one of two things has to happen before this idea will fly. Either the power efficiency has to go up, or a means must be developed for producing the cells themselves from in-situ resources instead of just the base. If the robots can produce an essentially unlimited number of cells, then the efficiency/mass ratio becomes much less important. This Link suggests how to use lunar resources to create thin-film silicon cells via vacuum deposition on a reg
 
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mikejz

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This would be a sort of neat idea for an electrofide lunar roadway.
 
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crossovermaniac

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<font color="yellow">That basically spells unlimited future power available for a moon outpost, without nuclear reactors.</font><br /><br />Unless you have a power distribution system that spans the entire moon or a base near the lunar poles, you won't have power at all much less unlimited power during the 14-day long lunar night.
 
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no_way

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"you won't have power at all much less unlimited power during the 14-day long lunar night. "<br /><br />There are reportedly some spots near lunar south pole that have near-continuous sunlight. <br />Plus, theres always power storage systems. Flywheels and other mechanical storage systems seem especially appropriate on moon.
 
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