Low-Wind Speed Wind Turbine: Producing and Storing Electricity on Mars

When considering different methods of producing electricity on the surface of Mars, mechanical methods are the most promising since they are inherently simple in design, and make it easy for in-location production, operation, and maintenance. Sunlight and Mars’ atmosphere are the only two resources with known properties right now, presenting a continuous, uninterrupted presence on the surface. From the early stages of work, it became clear that in spite of their continuous presence on the surface, both sunlight and the atmosphere lack the desired density for creating a system in practical physical dimensions. A huge system requires large amounts of material and space. To make up for lack of density, the only remaining option is a method that combines the two resources to compensate for a lack of density, both for sunlight and atmosphere.

Design Approach

Our design approach was based on the oldest methods of harvesting the moving atmosphere (wind): simply a wind turbine. However, we decided to equip our wind turbines with flexible solar panels installed on both the front and back surfaces on the outside of the blade, along with small flywheels inside the blades. Our blades are also equipped with rechargeable batteries to store the electricity produced by flywheels, to assist powering the electric-ducted fans.

Electricity produced by solar cells will power the small electric-ducted fans installed at the tip of the blades, powering the moment arm between the blade tip and the turbine shaft—thus powering the generator. The only sections of this system that must be premanufactured on Earth are the generator, the solar cells, electric-ducted fans, and small batteries. The remaining sections such as the shaft, tower, blades, and wiring can be premanufactured on Earth
or prepared on Mars using leftover materials that accumulate at the facilities over time.

Installation of solar cells on the turbine blades compensates both for the low-lift coefficient presented by tin atmosphere, and low solar cell efficiency due to the great distance from the sun. Combining the two should provide Earth-surface- like wind turbine efficiency. The addition of a flywheel will also store some of the kinetic energy from the rotation of the blades.

Preliminary Investigation

Below is a preliminary investigation of the system, based on analyses and information available to us about Mars’ surface, atmosphere, and sunlight density.

1. Sunlight intensity at typical noon on the surface of Mars, under ideal conditions with no dust on the surrounding atmosphere = 590 watts/square foot.

2. Mars atmosphere density at surface (6% of Earth).

3. Lift coefficient presented by Mars’ atmosphere at surface = variable under different atmospheric conditions.

4. Average surface temperature = -225˚ F to +95˚ F

5. Mars gravity = 38% of Earth

6. Targeted rate of electricity production/each blade system = W1500

Blade System Types

1. Two-bladed wind turbine

2. Three-bladed wind turbine

3. Single-blade/counterbalanced wind turbine

Energy Storage Options

1. Electricity Production and Storage

In this configuration, the blade systems will produce electricity for immediate consumption and storage. Permanent magnet generators or any alternator—even bicycle generators connected to the turbine shaft—will provide ample amounts of electricity for use and storage.

2. Compressed Atmosphere Production

Compressed atmosphere production on the surface of Mars can be one the most important energy production and storage methods on Mars. Wind turbines connected to oil-less air compressors will continuously pump the Martian atmosphere into tanks and the pressurized gases can be used for any purpose (cooling, heating, rocket fuel, or used as stored kinetic energy).

Numerous Martian wind turbine units can pump the Martian atmosphere into sealed underground caverns and create a huge pressurized underground environment for any purpose. The stored kinetic energy stored as pressurized gas inside underground caverns can also be used to power the electricity-producing wind turbines at times when sunlight is not available. (Technical details submitted for the wind turbine design will show how). Storing the sun energy in the form of stored mechanical energy is an attractive method of energy storage compared to batteries. Batteries are heavy, expensive, and require maintenance and periodical replacement, whereas a pressurized tank is composed of only a tank, intake valve, and discharge valve.

Design

Design and specifications information about any of our products can be provided with a request for information to Mitraaerospace.