Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Regenerative Fuel Cells: Power For Lunar Nights? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(Image: Regenerative fuel cell, Credit: NASA)

One of the biggest "show stoppers" against humanity colonizing the Moon is energy. While solar power can easily collect energy from the sun during a "lunar day," its the nights that might quite literally leave us in the dark.

While Germany has developed a unique way to power future off world outposts, it looks as if another scientist may have found a longer lasting method for keeping the lunar lights on.

(Moon Today) A typical hydrogen fuel cell combines hydrogen from a tank and oxygen from the air to produce electricity, leaving water and heat as its only byproducts. A regenerative fuel cell also works in reverse, using electricity to divide the water into hydrogen and oxygen, which are fed back into the fuel cell to produce more electricity.

"What makes our regenerative fuel cell unique is that it's closed loop and completely sealed," Bents said. "Nothing goes in and nothing comes out, other than electrical power and waste heat. The hydrogen, oxygen and product water inside are simply recycled over and over again." [...]

"On the moon, you would start with a tank of water. You'd use the solar arrays to make hydrogen and oxygen during the day, then use the hydrogen and oxygen to make electricity during the night when there's no sun," said Bents. "Ideally, if nothing broke and nothing wore out, it could run forever without being refueled."

According to the article, not only would these fuel cells last much longer than the standard batter, but they could provide four to six times more energy pound for pound.

Coupled with standard solar panels, humanity may not only have enough power to stay warm on that frigid moon, but also be able to develop artificial magnetic fields to protect their homes from the wrath of the sun.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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