Steam pipe into space?

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grooble

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Hi, i don't know anything about science but i had this idea.<br /><br />I know there is the problem of getting enough water into space cheaply for consumption & colonization efforts.<br /><br />Is it possible to have a huge pipe connected to, say, a space elevator, and for a station on the ground to heat water into steam and for the steam to rise through a heated pipe?<br /><br />The pipe could end at a platform in space and the steam cooled back into liquid and then packaged up and ready to use. It could be ferried to the moon via a freighter or somthing.<br /><br />Perhaps it could cut the cost of missions to the moon or mars if the construction of the pipe is factored into any future space elevator. <br /><br /><o v O />
 
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nexium

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Steam does rise in the air, because it is lighter than air, Steam in a pipe is not levitated, as steam plus pipe is heavier than the air it displaces. High presure steam would move vertically up a pipe for a few miles, until the weight of the steam column exceeded the pressure. Unless I have missed something, your idea won't work. Neil
 
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yruc

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Right' o nexium.<br /><br />Though I think the steam would condense long before it got to far. As you go higher in the atmosphere, the temperature drops considerably. A passenger jet Usually flying around 35k feet (~7 miles high) has an outside air temp of about -75 degrees Fahrenheit.<br />
 
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a_lost_packet_

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Just for the sake of far-flung speculation:<br /><br />If such was possible, you would still have to install stage heaters to maintain the temperature. You'd also have to do something about equalizing pressure. Also, while steam seems lighter than air, it is still just made of water "vapor." It just has some extra heat added to it and, depending upon pressure, won't go very far on it's own. So, you'd have to pump it. That requires extra pressure compensation. In turn, the extra pressure makes the steam less dense and more likely to condensate. So, you have to add more heat. etc etc.. The amount of force required to pump such a collumn of steam into orbit would be excessive I would think. Fairly soon, you would probably reach energy consumption that would rival just lifting the water with conventional means.<br /><br />There's an industrial sized gas-fired boiler at our facility. It puts out enough BTU's to heat an entire neighborhood. (30 homes or so.. It's not that much really, but it's impressive compared to a residential unit.) It's about the size of a VW Minibus and scary as heck when it gets "angry." heh heh. The gas company guys think it's a dinosaur, but I kind of like it. It's old.. but it's got style.<br /><br />Anyway, we still have occasional problems with steam-lines. They're not alot of fun to play with either. Maintaining industrial steam lines is a major industry in and of itself. To maintain a steam line to the stars.. well.. that would keep a small country fairly busy I bet. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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scottb50

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This does bring up a major problem that could be a show stopper for further Space exploration. In a zero G environment steam, or heated vapor would require a lot of mechanical input, pumping and radiators to perform fractional distillation, impurities would not drop out, because of their mass, as they do in fractional distillation on Earth and lighter volitiles wouldn't continue upward in a column. <br /><br />The same type of problem would exist with a anerobic fermentation reactions, the orientation of the reactants plays a factor in most reactions. Case in point most ales use a top fermenting yeast and lagers use bottom fermenting yeast. In zero gravity they wouldn't know where they are, gravity wise. So to speak.<br /><br />Because of the current launch costs a 33 pound case of beer would cost $33,000 and a gallon of liquor would be equally prohibitive to launch. Plus, even if you could grow crops in Space you couldn't ferment them or distill them to produce recreational alcohol without prohibitively complex equipment.<br /><br />This could be a serious problem! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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jmilsom

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This reminds me of the Solar Tower project in Mildura Australia. The plan is essentially to build a 1 km high tower that utilises rising hot air to power turbines. If constructed, it would be the tallest structure in the world, 400m higher than the planned Freedom Tower in New York. Quite visionary project. <br /><br />Article here:<br /><br />http://bulletin.ninemsn.com.au/bulletin/eddesk.nsf/All/A7BD712D34AE25B3CA256B12001BA833!open<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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Swampcat

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<font color="yellow">"This could be a serious problem!"</font><br /><br />Wow...that's an understatement <img src="/images/icons/frown.gif" />.<br /><br />At around $700 a bottle it better be damn good beer !!!<br /><br />The heck with using the centrifuge for astronaut health. It's gonna be needed for beermaking! <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="3" color="#ff9900"><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>------------------------------------------------------------------- </em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."</em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong>Thomas Jefferson</strong></font></p></font> </div>
 
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igorsboss

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Next time, try jumping down the inside of the exhaust tower and have a fun ride on the upwelling air currents...
 
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a_lost_packet_

Guest
<font color="yellow">igorsboss - Next time, try jumping down the inside of the exhaust tower and have a fun ride on the upwelling air currents... </font><br /><br />That's how special forces and other special paratroop type guys practice some intricate free-fall manuevers. They go into a chamber that has an extremely large fan in it. Kind of like a reverse blender. Although, I don't think many of them would get the same humor out of the comparison. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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a_lost_packet_

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<font color="yellow">Scottb50-Because of the current launch costs a 33 pound case of beer would cost $33,000 and a gallon of liquor would be equally prohibitive to launch. Plus, even if you could grow crops in Space you couldn't ferment them or distill them to produce recreational alcohol without prohibitively complex equipment. <br /><br />This could be a serious problem! </font><br /><br />!!<br /><br />Mothball the ISS! All research and funding should be directed towards overcoming this serious issue! No beer in space? My god! How could they have overlooked this for all of these years! Just another case of NASA sweeping an issue under the carpet and refusing common sense!<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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a_lost_packet_

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<font color="yellow">shuttleguy-Make that $330,000. The curren launch costs run about $10,000 a pound. </font><br /><br />..<br /><br />We're doomed! Doomed I tell you! We'll never get into space at this rate! Who's going to go on missions where they can't have a beer for months on end?<br /><br />I bet they secretly send up cases of beer to those guys on the ISS! They'd have to wouldn't they?<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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jmilsom

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Beer, wine and liquor are a big global industry. I'm sure one of the big beer makers would be interested in funding a study entitled "the effects of zero-g on the beer brewing process." In fact one of them could fund a whole module and slap their logo on the side - then shoot down a load every few months (if the astronauts don't consume it all), which would probably sell for a packet and help them recover their investment! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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jmilsom

Guest
It may be that the upwelling currents are so strong, you could start at the bottom with a parachute and shoot out the top, like some fantastic dandelion seed! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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scottb50

Guest
I though I heard the Soyus was around $1,000 per pound, I know the Shuttle is a lot more! Either way it kind of puts the cost to orbit in perspective. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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