Thu 5 Mar 2015
So see if you can follow me on this. Some people see “space travel” as a way to get off this planet. But why would you want to do that? It is a perfectly good planet. I think it is because everyone knows deep down that the way we are treating this planet may ultimately cause its demise. That is why I am ultimately an environmentalist; because I do not believe we can get off this planet. So we humans better change our ways. Why do I believe there will be no space travel for humans. The radiation levels of outer space are too great, the distances too far, and the physical demands too great. Thus I believe in saving energy and creating green energy because I believe it is the only way for our planet to survive. Yet people dream.
Breakthrough in energy harvesting could power life on Mars
The research proposes a new kind of engine for producing energy based on the Leidenfrost effect – a phenomenon which happens when a liquid comes into near contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point. This effect is commonly seen in the way water appears to skitter across the surface of a hot pan, but it also applies to solid carbon dioxide, commonly known as dry ice. Blocks of dry ice are able to levitate above hot surfaces protected by a barrier of evaporated gas vapour. Northumbria’s research proposes using the vapour created by this effect to power an engine. This is the first time the Leidenfrost effect has been adapted as a way of harvesting energy.
The technique has exciting implications for working in extreme and alien environments, such as outer space, where it could be used to make long-term exploration and colonisation sustainable by using naturally occurring solid carbon dioxide as a resource rather than a waste product. If this could be realized, then future missions to Mars, such as those in the news recently, may not need to be ‘one-way’ after all.
Go there and fulfill your fantasy. More next week.