Friday, July 17, 2009

Establish no-fly zones around SPS power beams

My sci fi novels (such as "Building Up") have stimulated a bit of discussion on old and new topics, some of which can be contentious. A new friend who also is into amateur radio (as I am too) and thus aware of potential problems of high power radio beams could have and need to be made safe for all concerned, surprisingly brought up the old argument against the use of Solar Power Satellites in GEO, that the power beams might be dangerous for aircraft to pass through.

Dealing with the effects of flying through a gigawatt power beam going to a 12 square mile area rectenna (rectifying antenna) with a power density (although at a single frequency) about equal to that of sunlight, that much of the solution seems to just do like in other high energy transmission systems such as high tension high voltage power lines, establish an avoidance zone around them, no-fly zones for those beam areas.

Birds flying through them would probably absorb more energy than already absorbing from the sunlight, and unless there are resonant effects for effects or double the heating from incoming energy that is not bounced off their feathers, so research would be needed re this; as to damage compared to the losses of birds and bats to wind turbine blades, another worst-case factor to be researched.

Even though aluminum-skinned aircraft would simply mostly scatter bounce the energy away from their curved metal surfaces, if they strayed anyway into the "no-fly" zones around space sourced power beams, except possibly for any resonant circuits it could pass to in the vehicle, and so aircraft would eventually need to be designed to avoid this frequency-dependent potential problem, or harden any such circuits to pass the sub-centimeter wavelength energy shorting it out.

As I envision the widespread use of such electric power beams, enabled built there using my proposed transportation methods, eventually there might eventually be a hundred such 12 square mile no-fly-zone power beams going down to various places around the world. Additionally probably an equal number of much lower energy density beams serving smaller countries and isolated areas.

Regarding the subject of having an ill-will group take over such a power station and modify its beam to make it much smaller and use it as a weapon, it seems to me that the full sized such GEO-sited gigawatt energy transmitters would need to have their antennas designed and built to prevent such focusing down to smaller than the, say, 12 square mile receiving area on the surface of the earth.

Smaller power energy satellites that would be used to deliver propulsion energy to tracked-position airliners, ships at sea and trains in some places, would need to shrink their power beams down to that which would be received by the much smaller rectennas on those vehicles; but the energy would be a closely controlled factor just as any large fast moving vehicle has much energy density that needs to be controlled so as to not run amok and cause damage, including at the hands of misguided aggressive folks who might attempt to take one of them over and use it to cause deliberate damage (not all humans have grown up yet, unfortunately.)

The way things go slowly in the rivalrous business world where the already existing powerful energy businesses (such as coal, oil, nuclear) and existing rocket-based space access systems, would strive to suppress such power sources and the new types of space access transportation structures (such as my proposed KESTS kinetic energy supported space escalator transportation system) needed to build and maintain them up in GEO, just to keep their business profits coming in; so probably by the time such space energy sources were fully in place, the wind turbines will have been worn out, that are needed built at the present time.

Such big business suppression of that which the world needs so desperately now - abundant cheap clean electrical power for the world and solar powered means to economically totally recycle toxic materials our industrial civilization produces, back into useful purified chemical forms - and maybe even huge new living space and easy access to asteroid mining potentials - does not make them evil or of destructive intent; they are just naturally wanting to keep their money rolling in to maintain their nice lifestyle they have established along with massive influence to control events; and to gain time to take over any such new power systems that might be built in the future, thus to be controlled by themselves in their own good time. Business profit is a hallowed thing in our culture, and most anything goes in that game.

Let's hope humanity can survive by somehow getting out of such narrow-visioned modes; we live in a big-picture wide visioned world, whether we see it or not. We are within reach of the technologies to wisely solve our problems, if we can stop quarreling and get on with solving our mutual problems and enabling efficient fulfillment of all our mutual needs to thrive far better on into the future.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Comment about coal sourcing for electrical energy

Electrical power is essential to America. Coal is a home-source for such energy; far better than buying from offshore sources for mere oil to burn and is gone but our hard-to-pay debt for it remains. Coal sourced electrical power seems necessary as a desperate form of energy while we have massive wind and solar sourcing projects started and completed; but coal is not a substitute; it is imperiling the world environment and should be done only while waiting for direct solar sourced energy is being created. The risk is that coal business profit interests may secure their long-term income source at the expense of the nation's alternative energy system's creation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gadflies bothering the livestock - Referring to the article on SPS by Ben Bova

Referring to the article "An Energy Fix Written in the Stars" by the long time visionary writer Ben Bova, published in The Washington Post Sunday, October 12, 2008; Page B02

"DEAR MR. (FUTURE) PRESIDENT- An Energy Fix Written in the Stars"

Gadflies address the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
[my italics; this is apparently the Washington Post's summary opinion of it all. Note that the definition of "gadfly" per Webster's New World Dictionary p.550: "...1. any of several large flies, such as the horsefly, that bite livestock 2. a person who annoys others or rouses them from complacency"]

Anyway, from the referenced article by Ben Bova regarding Solar Power Satellites appropriateness now:

: ...You do it with the solar power satellite (SPS), a concept invented
: by Peter Glaser in 1968. The idea is simple: You build large
: assemblages of solar cells in space, where they convert sunlight
: into electricity and beam it to receiving stations on the ground.
: The solar power satellite is the ultimate clean energy source. It
: doesn't burn an ounce of fuel. And a single SPS could deliver five
: to 10 gigawatts of energy to the ground continually. Consider that
: the total electrical-generation capacity of the entire state of
: California is 4.4 gigawatts.
: Conservative estimates have shown that an SPS could deliver
: electricity at a cost to the consumer of eight to 10 cents per
: kilowatt hour. That's about the same as costs associated with
: conventional power generation stations. And operating costs would
: drop as more orbital platforms are constructed and the price of
: components, such as solar voltaic cells, is reduced. Solar power
: satellites could lower the average taxpayer's electric bills while
: providing vastly more electricity. ..."

It may also be relvant that probably I have been similarly considered a "gadfly" all these years, since 1989 - 19 years past and lost to civilization's capacity already- when I first started talking on computer networks and then the internet, about the potentials for using kinetically supported transportation structures for use in economically lifting the construction materials and personnel and infrastructure for adequately plentifully building those Solar Power Satellites in GEO, which could already have been done and we would already be receiving plentiful clean 24/7 electrical energy this way (ref and - but note that the latter website is getting frequently hacked and often knocked off the net, so keep trying, it will eventually be back on the internet.)

The hangup has always been the enormous energy and vehicular cost of rocketry used to put things up high into Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) - where our communication and weather satellites already are operating now; but unfortunately even the rocketry industry considers me a gadfly in their business soup.

At this point, however, even using rocketry to put up a few of the Solar Power Satellites could be a wise energy investment for America and other nations, as pointed out by the esteemed Ben Bova in the referenced article. (Also, instead of merely being a business-boondoggle-designed-to-fail-to-prove-a-point activity, it would instead need to be done Apollo-project-style with a sincere effort to get it done.)

In contrast to the very intermittent wind and solar ground sources of carbon-free electrical energy; power gotten from the Sun up high far beyond clouds, latitude and night's shadow, the Solar Power Satellite solution offers continuous 24/7 clean electrical energy to the world's electrical energy grids, and lots of it. Wake up, folks; it is already past time to go far beyond business-as-usual, to make a go of it all. Please apply wisdom and go for the gold.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Again explaining "KESTS to GEO" advantages

It is possible that a reader of this blog might not actually understand what my "KESTS to GEO" conceptual design is, someone who might actually desire to know. So here is another attempt to explain it briefly. Its first function would be to enable, finally, the construction of enough Solar Electric Power Satellites in GEO to supply the whole world with adequate really clean electrical energy to power civilization's advancement.

(I had written this recently to improve the initial part of my website, but found that something is blocking me from doing ftp to my website, so I cannot fix my website; I get a message that says my username is not allowed access. The ISP support does not answer my email about it. Probably what happens in a system where passwords and ID are sent unprotected; and the easy-money crowd decides to make a harvest. So, I will put it here in a blog.)

So here goes: this is to suggest that there is "another" (that is, a non-tether space elevator) possible technique to support structures that reach from the ground all the way up to high orbital altitudes, enabling economical large scale space access; and thus enabling a huge expansion of civilization while also thereby restoring the Earth's fragile ecosystem. Come dream with me a moment; once you see it clearly, you will see it is obvious (and therefore is not "new & innovative" since everybody must have known it all the time.)

Basic principle of structural support: The outward centrifugal force on the mass of the armature of an electric motor that is in hoop-form encircling the planet, a force thus in opposition to the force of gravity at its location. The structural support means is similar to the principle that enables a satellite to be in an orbit, the outward centrifugal force component of circular motion on its moving mass, balances the inward force of gravity on its mass. Except, in the structural support application, the circulating mass is going very much faster than its orbital altitude would balance, its excess outward centrifugal force component being used to balance the weight of the planet-encircling structural mass within which it slides around at high velocity, which is the structure enabling economical large scale space access.

That is the basic mechanism of structural support being described here. There are many other mechanisms involved to implement such an energy-supported structure that reaches from the ground, such as from surface-connection at some place on the Equator, all the way up to orbital altitudes, including up to GEO. Such as mechanisms for maintaining a hard vacuum environment for the high velocity mass streams while they flow through the earth's atmosphere in the lower part of their loop. And mechanisms for very slippery sliding between the high velocity mass and the supported structure it pushes upward against, all around the loop.

Integrated mechanism: A fairly well integrated overall structural mechanism utilizing the basic structural support principle, coalesces into the form of a multiple armature synchronous electric motor, overall. The armatures are shoved along as they cruise past the ground terminal, inputting kinetic energy to the system. The armatures mass push outward, upward against the non-moving magnetic levitation track-ways in which they slide along under the supported structure loop. And the armatures inductively share some of their upward momentum with vehicles they pass by, lifting the vehicles up and down the structure between ground and space.

Major advantage: And that is the point of it all, that the payload carrying vehicles carry no fuel mass for the journey, which is the really big energy hog of conventional rocket transportation between ground and orbit. Rockets have to lift the immense mass of the fuel that will be used to get to orbit, and that is where most of the work is spent getting payload into orbit, in the lifting of the fuel and of the fuel tanks and engines needed to lift that huge mass off the ground. Consider what a light weight vehicle would be needed, if it did not have to also lift the fuel mass needed to make the journey. A vehicle that is also gently lowered back to the ground on return, its energy returned to the system instead of through re-entry heating.

Electrically powered space access: That the transportation structure system is entirely electrically powered, also implies some interesting potentials. The lack of atmospheric pollutants from the rocket propellants is an obvious one, that becomes more significant it the lift of a large amount of payload is being considered. Such as for building the long-envisioned Solar Power Satellites in GEO. Some of that beamed-down electrical energy could be used to power the transportation structure itself, thus a large scale space access transportation system becomes no burden to the planetary system thereafter.

Transportation energy cost: So what is the basic energy cost to lift something from the ground and put it into GEO? Well, a bit of thought shows it has to be less than the energy needed to impart the "escape velocity" to that mass. That is to speed it up to 25,000 mph, which is 7.9 KWh of energy per pound of mass. That is 80 cents a pound if electrical energy costs 10 cents per KWh, or 8 cents per pound if energy costs 1 cent per KWh. Since GEO is significantly short of the infinite distance that "escape velocity" theorizes, only 7.15 KWh per pound to GEO, lifted from the equator, is the energy imparted to the mass as it is lifted up there and given orbital velocity at GEO altitude of 22,300 miles above the equator. That is 72 cents of electrical energy, if energy costs 10 cents per KWh, per pound delivered into GEO. However....

Relative efficiency: No transportation system is 100% efficient, and transportation process energy would be added to the overall energy consumption involved in the transportation system. Yet we are starting with a figure of 7.15 KWh, and even with a lot if added energy, it still is an insignificant amount of energy as compared to that used by the Space Shuttle, for example, or the launch vehicles now used to put communication satellites in GEO. A really tiny amount of energy.

Exploring what then would become possible: And that would make economical projects in GEO, that are now quite impossible due to the reaction engine launch vehicle transportation technique we are now limited to.

Such projects are interactive with the chosen transportation system. For example, by lifting the structural materials up to GEO with which to build plentiful Solar Power Satellites, which would power the transportation system itself, as well as providing abundant clean electrical energy for civilization around the world.

That itself would be justification for the transportation system's creation. But once in place, there are many other things that become possible too, that are otherwise not feasible. They include such things as high capacity materials processing in the zero-gee, hard vacuum, solar powered environment in GEO, with its potential for total recycling of industrial waste materials. Imagine the space exploration vehicles that could be built in GEO, their mass and fuel electrically lifted up there, already 91% up out of earth's gravitational energy well, ready to head for the Moon, asteroids, and other planets to explore, gather raw materials, and bring life to where there had been no life before. In GEO, we could build the "Stanford Torus" rotating city of 10,000 self-supporting people, originally designed for construction in L-5 back in the mid-1970's, except now build-able out of materials brought up from the earth surface instead of from the Moon's surface; and its population also lifted up there electrically just as easily, and easy commute back and forth. The potentials go on from there.

Remember what became possible due to the creation of a railway system across America, as compared to what was possible with horses and ox-drawn Conestoga wagon trains. What had been impossible became quite possible and eventually everyday to people. Such expansion potentials are foreseeable here, too.

And provides justification for serious examination of transportation systems based on the basic principle of excess outward centrifugal force of mass in a loop around a planet, being used the balance the weight of the hoop-shaped structure.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Philosophically exploring efficient biofuels

Chatting via e-mail with my normally too busy daughter who had recently graduated with a degree in Horticulture, I had been pointing out recent articles about higher quality biofuels made from fruit, fuel better than ethanol. I had suggested possibility of using fruit, leaves, stem, root material and forming into containers so as to efficiently go direct from sunlight into fruit material with a minimum of extraneous material normally associated with fruit tree orchard production.

She responded something about "mad scientist" and messing with life. So I have responded, and perhaps it all would be appropriate for my energy blog here.

I then wrote:

"There are scientific, economic, and philosophical considerations that can be involved, true.

And yes the image of the mad scientist can be a valid one, where the scientist has been so long bent into the linear scientific analysis process that it is no longer possible to straighten up and look around to see the greater world about, and to see where one's own analytic scientific task is fitting into the much greater picture, and deciding if it is still going in a wholesome direction into the larger picture.

Philosophically speaking, plant physiology as directed to fruit production, I believe, is designed to dangle out that tasty fruit for some critter to amble by and appreciatively munch, to later deposit a mound of nice fertilizer which contains some of the surviving seeds. Maybe one can also philosophize it as the plant giving the critter a gift of tasty fruit in return for going and planting more of its kind. Everybody wins.

As for the manipulation of life forms, the razing of a pine forest and planting rows of apple trees and harvesting the apples later, seems to have messed with nature quite a bit. Also, sometimes a tree is partly grown, then cut off a few feet above the ground and spliced with the trunk and leaves of a different kind of tree, to provide a hardiness. Isn't that also messing with nature? When one bites into an apple and crushes it with the teeth and munches it down, the apple gets really mangled ... is that not messing with it?

So if one were to figure out how to take a bit of apple fruit cells, stem, leaf material (maybe from the parts that were headed into the garbage can and landfill) and getting them all to grow in a more efficient conversion process from sunlight into biofuel, it seems not much different philosophically.

However, plants and animals that get domesticated by civilization, tend to flourish, but other kinds of creatures get crushed out of the way, lost. So if apple fruit material could be grown in sheets for biofuels, it might also then get cookie-cuttered into neat efficient packages for sale instead of apples, and then apples themselves might cease to be tended in orchards.

Such changes need to be responsibly orchestrated into the bigger picture; which unfortunately is rarely done nowadays since "there is no money in it." Only in the long term, big picture, are such things visible as being very economically wise. Growing small apple orchards, or apple trees as part of a forested landscape of diversity in a responsibly tended way, might become a part of civilization's solid progress. Same philosophy for all other kinds of fruit trees ... and other food sources.

OK I can't resist flapping away more with this, and so visualizing growing a tree whose trunk is in the size and shape of a 2 x 4 stud 8 feet long at harvest. No huge logger trucks or sawmill needed. And I recall when I was a boy, fantasizing growing houses by planting and tending various kinds of trees and vines etc to grow into the frame and walls and roof of a house. One could start on a plot of land and start growing such houses; when the first one was adequately grown, install remainder of plumbing, electricity, and move in, live there while tending houses nearby similarly, producing houses year after year for sale, a type of farming. I have it mentioned somewhere on one of my web pages probably one of my old pages, since several years ago I got an email from someone in Hawaii who was building a full sized home supported by three - Banyan? - trees, had seen the page and was looking for ideas."

Friday, February 2, 2007

Global warming entertainment romance style

As the report on global climate change is released today, it seems appropriate to entertain a bit (including a bit of February romance) with a bit of some of my Science Fiction writings, "Novelway Prototype Shop" Chapters 1 & 2:

Chapter 1: Redwood Forests Remembering

The great redwood forests had memory of their past eons of greatness, and the mind of their collective beingness came to a decision: it is time to have the change. Their aura was so expansive that it had felt the entire planet's saga, now written into their essence.

And that aura felt how now the carbon-stored sunshine energy, so patiently and laboriously stashed away by countless plant beings ages ago, so as to enable an oxygen-based animal life to exist, was being poured back into the atmosphere faster than sea and land photosynthesis beings can re-absorb it. What was causing this? They felt deeper into it, seeking.

It was these new two-legged scrapy beings with their machines, who, like a mosquito on a bird's back, stuck a probe deep into the earth's mantle and drew up the fluid petrochemicals, then burned them back into the atmosphere, heedlessly. It was not for the carbon to build their clever machines out of; no, it was to pull out the stored past energy of the sun that was consumed to stash the carbon away from the atmosphere, so long ago, that life might wonderfully expand and prosper, based on oxidation power.

So the great redwood beings coalesced into their planetwide aura, a new pattern of thought channels for those scrappy knowledge-gathering beings and their machines so clever. Like the river channels, new thoughts would flow as time went on, engraving new patterns for their civilization which now squatted so heavily on the world of nature's vast life flow.

The misty morning fresh dawn cooly sifted down through the great redwood tree, its top so high the Pacific Ocean was in view, multitubular cluster strong long trunk, down to where its roots fingered along in the soil below it, tasting the moist chemistry for the building pieces for today's construction. The great tree sipped of the earth's dainty water and aired her limbs in a fresh breeze, then focused on the interesting pair of beings who had chosen to nestle between her roots and great branches overnight. The couple were snuggled peacefully in each others' arms, knowing in their dreams of the warmly loving dance of life, down there in their tent so tiny, a cold campfire nearby, and a metal car machine. The redwood tree resonated with that peaceful togetherness intertwined in love so quietly gentle resting, resonated like she had always resonated with all her spread family across the great land across time in oneness, spreading bole to bole, bonded family united in auric oneness knowing of beingness so detailed. She spread her part of the forest aura around to tuck in the loving couple a bit more, and waited with the patience of eternity for new things to happen. Yet this pair of cuddly beings, in the tent sandwiched between her awning branches and anchoring root field, were of the kind that had brought forth the metal machines that crawled around releasing the CO2's carbon, so as to utilize the energy of the sun that so long before had been stored so as to lock the excess carbon away from the air. And the metal machine they had brought, was it not one of them? Yes. So the redwood tree gently laid upon the dreamy couple, a holographic piece of the new auric pattern which the great forest had formed. The new auric pattern so softly and gently merged with that of the two sleeping beings, now one with them.

Chapter 2: Camping Aromas of Fresh Coffee

Aromas of fresh coffee and fried pancakes which Marsha was cooking on re-kindled campfire, wafted in along with cool breeze through the open tent flap, to awaken John to the day. What he been dreaming? Something about the car and air and trees, what was it? Like they were all dancing together with the people a new song; strange dream.

Marsha, too, admired the aroma and flavor of the fresh coffee, and as her eyes drank in the wondrous foliage of the forest around them, and especially the curiously interesting redwood tree over their head, its branches like a mother hen over her brood of chicks, protecting and comforting in instinctual responsibility.

Marsha sipped coffee more, noticing John was stirring in the tent. What was it about these nights with him, how the next day her usual no-nonsense, get it done right, avoid the unconventional, attitude changed to add a curiosity of "what would happen if...." John was certainly low-maintenance, all she had to do was be there for him; he seemed totally addicted to her. Yet a man of dreams was he, always off in the future, could hardly take care of himself in the real tough world. Why did he let people walk all over him, make him such a fool? No dummy, him. It was times like this morning that she actually considered taking the position at her Dad's prototype shop, be lead engineer in the R & D section that normally scared her with its demands to create things college never taught her to do. Intimacy with John somehow opened up some new part of herself so that the unconventional became an interesting adventure to make happen, there would be a way, and it would be fun. Instead of the usual irritation at the very thought of having to do something not by the book, what are those idiots going to ask for her to make happen next. She had done well in college, would go back for her masters degree in a few years; she knew every engineering principle that school could teach, and applied it well at her job, no question.

John wafted out of the tent along the path of the coffee aroma, receiving a cup of brew from her. These times with her brought a joy of belief that dreams will come true, the world is here to make them happen, when she was around him. And there was a new magic in the air here somehow, more than the usual forest fine air. Life is wonderful, keenly alive, when he was with her; all would turn out OK, he knew with certainty, like now."

The full Sci Fi story can be found at or

and my earlier writing from which this is derivative, written in 1988 while the Iraq-Iran war was ongoing:

"Unfinished Transportation Story"

The great redwood tree forest remnants remembered their greatness, spreading from coast to coast, far North to far South. Their ancestors' carbon had been locked beneath the rocks for millions of years, buried in the form of coal and crude oil, locked away from use by the forests.

Animals had come to munch on leaves, that there may be room for more trees. Bigger animals with bigger teeth came to munch on the leaf eaters, that the forests would not become extinct. But the upheavals of the earth had buried the forest carbon. Now there were creatures that tapped into those hydrocarbon burials, and the creatures' engines spread the carbon into the atmosphere. Now there was about too much CO2 and the planet would become too hot unless there was time for the forests to spread again across the land. It was time.

The oil producing countries of the Mid-East gently gave the news to the western world. The Iranians, the Saudies, the Kuwaites, the Iraqians chose to change from the adventure of war to the adventure of rebuilding their desert lands into wondrous gardens of plenty. In three years from the announcement to the Western nations, no more crude oil would be exported. The decades during which they had saved up the hundreds of billions of dollars of US money from petroleum, would be used to buy solar cells from the US, and all else they would need to terraform their deserts. Their petrochemical subterranean stores would be used to supply their deserts with the necessary carbon to build forests of plenty. Biological engineering would start with lichens and oil-eating microbes would start, and eventually a thousand-year-old redwood forest would elate over what had been the Sahara Desert.

Three years, OPEC had told the Western world, during which the oil shipments would exponentially decrease to zero. It was time for this to happen, they said with wisdom.

In America, the few who wanted to go to war with the Mideast to rob them of their oil, were quickly brought to their senses. The US instead chose to cherish their Yankee Ingenuity, welcoming this need to responsibly recreate their transportation system. The Government chose to bring back the process that had brought about the early inventiveness of America, that of offering prizes to those who invented and built adequately innovative ways to make the commute system better than ever, and without the use of gasoline in cars. It was time for this to happen, they knew with wisdom.

Permit stickers required to park on the streets in some cities. Gridlock. Finite fossil fuel resources. America selling its land to foreign countries...46% of LA's best real estate already sold to foreign pay largely for transportation fuel and cars...we don't make anything they want to buy from us, so we sell our land. Surely wake-up-to-reality time for the U.S.. And now the loss of Mid-East fuel impending. It was time to do something about transportation.

Ground transportation. Evolving from the complex of automobiles, busses, trucks and motorcycles...toward what? A measure for transportation efficiency needs be developed, from transportating food around a kitchen while cooking to transporting concrete to a building site. Mostly transporting commuters between residence and worksite. Total brainstorming was invited on the problem by the federal government; to bypass the restrictions on individual inventing, the government offered to buy outright the company that employed the winning ideamaker...for twice the company's worth. Corporations eagerly switched from censoring employee rights to inventions, to eagerly urging them to think about transportation widgets.

They created a race. A child on a skateboard would compete with a bicyclist and a railroad train, based on sheer transportation efficiency geared for the daily work commute.Initially the bicycle won, long known for its outstanding transportation efficiency, and utilized massively in many countries. But the Los Angeles commute, where many workers casually commute 40 miles each way, the bicycle was too slow, and too messy on rainy days. A walk-amplifier was invented, analogous to carnival stilt walkers, except low to the street...ok on flatland, but also amplified to effort needed to go uphill. A massive increase in buses was tried, covering every street every day every 10 minutes...but the cost of running them empty was nearly as much as running them full of people, and coverage had to be 24 hours a day to cover all contingencies. Changing to vans in the wee hours helped some, but driver pay still had to be made. The advantage personal cars had had was that when no one wanted to go anywhere, there was no energy cost during that time. One city, which had an experimental high-tech communications system which had a computer link to every residence and workplace, eased the problem by asking that each commuter send a brief message telling of expected bus needs: starting what time, where going to, and how many people...the computer then adjusted the bus/van/taxi schedule according to the expected needs of the route at the time.

Electric lines for electric cars or buses exposed much too high voltage for safety, enough power to move every vehicle on the street...unsafe. And where would the electric power come from, anyway? Nuclear fusion powerplants still depended on great breakthroughs in technology; solar power satellites required building an industrial support system for utilizing Lunar materials for construction. Much creativity was found in creating human powered transportation systems, such as pedal-powered mini-monorail cars.But when someone failed to be able to pedal, then the monorail stopped until that vehicle could be gotten off the track. A tow cable system was tried, which started with a simple tow cable continually going around each block, and one grabbed onto the cable while on roller skates or whatever wheels, and towed down the street, then crossed the street to grab onto the next block's tow cable. The tow cable ran constantly, powered by salvaged automobile engines with speed governers that adjusted for the daily varying commuter load. Wearing daypacks or backpacks for lunch and packages became popular everywhere. As the tow cable system became more in use, ultralight wheeled enclosed vehicles were created to provide some weather protection, and mechanical cable grippers became programmable to shift at block cable intersections automatically routing through the city without thought. The cables were replaced by steel bands for higher efficiency and less stretch. Then a system of higher speed tow bands around each block were built...extending further into the old roadways as speed went up, so that when routing long distances, one could shift from slow tows to ever faster tows until approaching destination, then reversing the process. The tow bands were powered by whatever was available locally, coal-fired engines, hydropower or whatever could turn something around fast enough. Then the tow bands were run through enclosed tubeways, to shield from the weather and to allow the airflow to move along with the vehicles, cutting drastically down on wind resistance. On long intercity tubeways, air was pumped into the traffic, boosting the speed; the air was forced under the lightweight vehicles enabling them to airsled along the tubeway on air bearings. Inside the tubeways, speeds went up and up, unaffected by the space outside the tubes; tow-air-sledding through the tubes at hundreds of miles per hour were unnoticeable by the occupants. (JEDCline 88I11)

Copyright © 1995 James Edward David Cline

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Example of my energy-related SciFi writings

(Note: this is an example of my Science Fiction adventure writings involving peoples' struggles to cope with various energy crisis. The novel from which it is extracted, "Building Up" by J E D Cline, includes many energy coping references, as do my other Science Fiction writings which are available in my various blogs.)

Day 29 of 30 (November, 2006)

The construction and use of the space access structure was energy starved. As there were no electric power lines existing servicing Cayanbe, the Ecuadoreans pitched in and got a powdered-coal fueled electric power plant brought in to the construction site, and while that fuel supply lasted, they could speed up the scaling up construction of the structure. At some point they would need to shift to using energy resources for lifting materials up to GEO to build a Satellite Solar electric Power plant, with which to power the transportation structure thereafter.

The supplies available to fuel the coal-powered electric power plant were rationed and getting less each week. So when the diameter of the KESTS structure to GEO reached 36 cm, they called a temporary halt to the scaling up process. At this point the mass of the structure was 4E10kg, and the structure was capable of receiving 600 megawatts per hour while lifting 20 million kg of mass to GEO each hour, so it was extremely underused, being only powered by the small powerplant on site. And that powerplant was running out of allowed fuel ration, too. They had to get to building the solar electric powerplant built in GEO as soon as possible.

They had instructed the old dual wheel space station to be towed to where it could continually beam microwave energy to rectennas to either the White Sands location, or to the Cayanbe location. They arranged to time share the energy beamed down from its solar power source, a kind of SSPS, but welcome addition to the petrochemical powerplant. They used the energy primarily to lift the construction materials for a SSPS capable of delivering 600 MW of solar-sourced energy continuously to the earth surface, If they could achieve that before their earth sourced energy supplies ran out, they could at least run this KESTS at full capacity, building more solar electric powerplants, and start negotiating with countries for delivered electric power, and start having an income. From then on, things would be easier.

As it was, the combined energy input from the coal-fired electric power and their average share of the space station's beamed energy was only half a megawatt, with which they could only deliver 15,000 kg to GEO each hour. They chose to build the main structure of the powerplant out of glass cast in a hard vacuum, which had enormous strength to mass ratio, far greater than the finest steel or aluminum, so long as it could be kept free of the atmosphere's molecules wiggling into glass surface microcracks, wedging into the glass until it was as fragile as it is normally on the earth's surface. They chose to melt the glass down at the KESTS ground terminal, and haul it up to the GEO construction site while still in the melted state, for feeding the extrusion facilities making the SSPS.

The structure had severe limits to the amount of concentrated load it could carry, however. It was very efficient at lifting a fairly continuous series of payloads of about equal mass, but the limits to concentrated mass load meant that they could not just haul up a solar powerplant ready-made. So Improy and Catalie went up in their little two-person spacecraft again, this time being lifted up by the KESTS, about its limit of a concentrated mass load. They only had a brief time they could work in GEO, being without passive radiation protection, and the injected DNA repair substance formula had long since been lost. So they used their space worksuits to assemble the solar-electric power panels into the glass main structure, and connected it to the microwave beam generator.

Looking down from the construction site, in GEO above the opposite side of the planet from the Ecuadorean mountain tunnel site, the world looked mostly watery. They were out of touch with ground facilities, and they dare not try to link into any internet signals that might reach up here. They then set up the silicon solar cell automated fabrication plant, which liked to be in zero g and hard vacuum, solar powered. Then they hurried back down the KESTS back to Cayambe peak tunnel, for a well earned vacation.

Copyright © 2006 James E D Cline as per rules

(Note: this energy related post was copied over from one of my other blogs, and can be found at