Facebook Pixelharvest solar energy to get electricity and high power lasers to be used for welding in underground unmanned industrial complexes
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harvest solar energy to get electricity and high power lasers to be used for welding in underground unmanned industrial complexes

Image credit: Photo by Anamul Rezwan: https://www.pexels.com/photo/cut-off-saw-cutting-metal-with-sparks-1145434/

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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice Mar 27, 2022
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Idea
By definition 1/3 of the world is a desert, Imagine if you could turn them all into self-sufficient industrial zones relying solely on the sun for all their energy needs. Since the work is monotonous and repetitive it can be automated fully, eliminating the need for essential life support systems. This would allow all the energy produced to be geared toward production. Picture smart industries making smart products.
Why
  • Makes use of non-arable land
  • The deeper you go the cooler it becomes, machines work best under cool temperatures.
  • laser welding is actually more efficient than classical arc welding
  • Could serve as a template for factories for making equipment on other planets.
  • If you happened to have a company specialising in boring while also being in the process of mass producing smart vehicles to meet a growing global demand, while also trying to do it in the most renewable way possible, then this would be one way to do it.
  • Since land is expensive but wastelands are cheap
How it works
Overall layout
As described, these complexes shall be constructed underground at around 12 feet or deeper, this is because at this depth the temprature only varies slightly throughout the year regardless of external weather conditions. Since the solar harvesting farm is directly on top of the complex the shadow cast will also cause a cooling effect on the ground below making cooling of machinery even easier.
Taking the sahara desert as an example. It was temperate in the last ice age and some of its alluvial basins no longer have any natural drainage, which means that there is still some water trapped under there. This water could further be used for cooling by tapping into it, passing it across the cooling systems and then through thin tunnels constructed under the complex where it could loose heat before being passed into the cooling system again.
Once in a while , people could come in for scheduled mentainance of the machinery and software and then leave.
The Solar farm
Even it the tropics, the sin still changes it's position in the sky. The solar frm runs on programming that allows the panels to alwus face the sun while never overlapping. They provide the energy to run the entire facility by sheer scale alone. Forbes classifies a facility as an industrial operation if it consumes 55,000 kWh of electricity or 200,000 kWh of gas a year . This is great because an avarage large scale solar farm can produce more than 3.6 million kWh annually . And that is only on 12 acres ,imagine how far you could push the scale on this.
The high power laser system
So a factory requires alot of heat, either for melting, welding or any other spefic thing. Early industries used coal, then gas furnaces , then induction furnaces , the next logical leap is a solar furnace. The largest in the world reaches 3,500 °C at the focal point. Hot enough to melt steel. But what about welding?
I found this design for a luminescent solar collector. It takes in light and focuses it into a high power laser and it is amazing .It takes an idea and adds so much utility to it. By harnessing the input from such a device and connecting it to a welding robot that uses a thermal model of pulsed-laser welding via a fibre optic optic cable that can't be melted by the intensity of the beam , you could eliminate the need for using electricity for this allowing you to do more with it.
The martian appeal
Humanity is in agreement that mars is the next planet we are colonising. Due to it's thin atmosphere and lower gravity, It would make a perfect industrial planet , allowing earth to focus on food production. Unmmaned underground complexes that use the high atmospheric radiation and really high output photovoltaic cells to get electricity to manufacture necessary equipment and vehicles and takes advantage of the low gravity to launch them into orbit to be taken to wherever they are needed.

[1]https://www.academia.edu/26654892/Open_Source_Laser_Polymer_Welding_System_Design_and_Characterization_of_Linear_Low-Density_Polyethylene_Multilayer_Welds

[2]https://www.forbes.com/uk/advisor/business-energy/large-and-industrial-business-energy-usage/

[3]https://ewh.ieee.org/cmte/substations/scm0/Raleigh%20Meeting/Conference%20PDFs/Technical%20tours/PE_Solar_Farm_Fact_Sheet.pdf

[4]https://www.induction-furnaces.com/

[5]https://solar-energy.technology/solar-thermal/solar-furnace

[6]https://www.nature.com/articles/s42005-020-0326-2

[7]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiber_laser

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General comments

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Povilas S
Povilas S2 months ago
I like the idea. A couple of problems that someone trying to realize it might face: first, digging tunnels in deserts can be challenging, especially if it's a sandy desert. You have to dig deep enough for the "ceiling" of the tunnel to be stable and not collapse onto it. Sand is very friable. I guess that's the main reason why traditional underground homes are not popular amongst desert-dwelling human populations.
Second - very hot temperatures might not be favorable for solar panels, they might need additional cooling systems.
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 months ago
Povilas S Idea, why not add a reflective screen atop the panels to reflect some radiant energy outward when it gets too hot for them? I think it should be possible to reinforce the internal walls by lining them with something, but I'm not sure. I don't have a lot of experience in construction.
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Povilas S
Povilas S2 months ago
Contrived _voice Yes, I found discussions online regarding the topic of digging tunnels in the sand. One user mentioned that there is a method where you place blocks of limestone or similar tough material to reinforce the ceiling of the tunnel if the friable sand is on top.
I'm not sure how you imagine the reflective screen to work? You mean it would be partially transparent and partially reflective? The problem is heat, the intensity of light is not the problem, high light intensity is a vast bonus for energy production through the panels. So if you reflect part of the radiation back, the efficiency of the panels will drop. The best would be to cool them without compromising the light intensity.
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 months ago
Povilas S yeah, I figured that it would take away from the energy production but at least it could reduce the overheating. It's like trading power for a longer lifespan, it's just the simplest solution I could come up with
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