Timon Singh

Massive Lunar Solar Power Tower Beams Energy to Earth

by , 10/26/10

bryna anderson, 2010 Moon Capital International Design Challenge, shift boston, Lunar Solar Power System, dr david criswell

This massive astral power tower just won the 2010 Moon Capital International Design Challenge. Designed by Bryna Anderson, a graduate student from Columbia University, the concept is based on American physicist Dr. David Criswell’s proposal for a Lunar Solar Power System. It works by collecting energy on the lunar surface using photovoltaic converters and then transmitting it to Earth via microwave generators.

bryna anderson, 2010 Moon Capital International Design Challenge, shift boston, Lunar Solar Power System, dr david criswell

The competition received over one-hundred submissions from six continents and 26 countries. New York native Anderson describes her design as a “microwave provision of terrestrial energy collected with lunar photovoltaics which combines an interesting program and the notion of creating Earth-normal gravity on the lunar surface in a massive rotating torus.”

The Lunar Solar Power System is a theoretical idea put forward by Dr. Criswell. After solar power is collected on the moon’s surface it is beamed to earth, where a set of receivers would capture the microwave beams and supply commercial electricity to regional power grids. It is theorized that the system would continuously provide the equivalent of about two kilowatts per person.

Of course, there are a few drawbacks, one of which concerns the construction of massive solar arrays on the moon, a feat that would reportedly require 4,400 constructors working on the moon, 340 in low-lunar orbit, and 400 in low-Earth orbit.

Anderson’s design combines Dr. Criswell’s ideas with an approach towards creating Earth-normal gravity on the lunar surface using a massive rotating torus. Both concepts are hypothetically feasible, but unfortunately, far from achievable in the present day.

+ Shift Boston

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8 Comments

  1. SHiBBY May 27, 2011 at 9:29 am

    If the progress of the human race depended were in the hands of previous commenters, we would still be stuck in the stone age. Don’t be afraid of technology. And if you are, why not chuck away the PC you’re posting from because that too was at some point the future!

  2. ingoratsdorf March 20, 2011 at 5:56 am

    @kurotsuki:
    And you believe that bundled energy in the form of microwaves to power the planet will be of a lesser level than in the kitchen microwave oven?
    And do you also believe that it will be less than four times more expensive to build a station on the moon rather than on your house, even when 4 times larger?

  3. kurotsuki March 18, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Why would you always think that this microwave is in the save level like microwave in the kitchen? Do you know that satellite TV is using microwave to transmit the program to your house?

    And to build generators over the surfaces. How many solar panels do you think we need to provide power need around the world? In term of efficiency, solar rays we can harness at surface point is only 20% because the radiation is blocked by our atmosphere and ozone. In term of efficiency, generating electricity and send them through microwave approximately 80% gain. So if we build it on the surface, we need 4 times larger than what we need to build on the orbital. That’s on equators. If you go north and south, efficiency will drop again thus larger solar panel needed. Have you ever imagine that?

  4. Earendur November 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    You people are so ignorant. Yes, we have plenty of radiation being directed to the earth from the sun, but we have something called an atmosphere that protects us from it. This includes the ionosphere, and the ozone layer.

    We also have a powerful magnetic field that protects us from solar radiation, the effects of which are the source of Aurora Borealis.

    On the moon, though it is likely to receive some protection from the earth’s magnetic field, has no where near this level of protection. This means that the effectiveness of solar cells would be greatly increased. I’m not going to look up the energy conversion calculations and the efficiency levels of solar cells but I’m positive that a higher input of energy would result in a greater output.

    In addition to this, one side of the moon always faces the Earth. This is caused by the equilibrium of tidal bulges generated by both celestial bodies. This means that the lunar solar station can be made to face the earth at an exact lateral line. As the moon rotates around the Earth it can be adjusted to aim the microwave power transmission at different lateral lines at different times to target receiving stations. Meaning multiple countries can get power at different times of the day.

    Oh, and before I get more detailed, the reason why they need to use microwave radiation to transmit the energy, in a nutshell, is because the ionosphere won’t easily allow any other type of radio transmission through. Satellites communicate to your T.V satellite dish with microwave signals for this reason.

  5. geva October 30, 2010 at 6:14 am

    @ingoratsdorf : you pegged exactly what I was thinking. Why complicate (and in this case… it is EXTREMELY complicated) something that we can currently do on Earth. It isn’t bad for a cover for a lunar death ray however…. imgine the headlines “New York Gets Microwaved, Rest of Country Benefits from solar power without the eye-sore of solar arrays” :P

  6. ffonz October 28, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Sounds like the ultimate socialist control
    weapon.. a massive death ray machine in the
    wrong hands if ever there was.

  7. DRC October 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    What is truly depressing is some people still doesn\’t even know something that really wastes and one that is not.

  8. ingoratsdorf October 26, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    The last thing we need!

    Why constructing something on the moon when the solar radiation emitted to earth far exceeds what we ever need on the planet even with current bad technology?

    Why burning gazillion tons of fuel to get workers and stuff up on the moon just to get some power back?

    How long would it take to offset all the emission?

    Why doubling up by building transmitters and receivers when you can simply generate on earth?

    Is it really a good idea to send microwaves to the earth? Like we don\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’t already have enough unwanted radiation here?

    What happens if transmitter alignment fails and emits over populated areas?

    Think again please.

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