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Comment Re:Far more abundant than lithium? (Score 1) 118

Actually, it's just the other way around. The reserves of in-demand materials - especially those for which there was relatively little demand for previously - tend to grow, by orders of magnitude, over time. And the maximum production cost of lithium is essentially capped, because the oceans have an essentially inexhaustable supply, and it costs an estimated $20-35 per kilogram (last I checked, the figure may have gone down since then) to produce lithium salts from it. But nobody is going to be touching that in the foreseeable future because there are such vast reserves onshore - salars, hectorite clays, pegmatites, geothermal lithium, etc. Actually $7-ish/kg is rather expensive for lithium salts, the long-running price has been more like $4-5/kg. Which has led to a new rush of lithium exploration, as it was so underexplored previously. And companies are finding huge lithium deposits bloody everywhere. A lot in the US, actually.

It's simply not a rare element.

Comment Re:Far more abundant than lithium? (Score 1) 118

It's mainly manufacturing/capital costs. The most expensive "raw ingredient" in the batteries BTW is not lithium but cobalt. Which nobody ever mentions because it's not in the name of the batteries - you'd have people freaking out about "peak cobalt" if we had called them "cobalt cathode" batteries instead of "lithium ion".

Comment Re:It's dug out of salt lakes (Score 1) 118

Indeed, lithium mining from salars is actually one of the more benign mining processes that exists. You're out on an area that is virtually devoid of life, pumping up saltwater, letting it evaporate in ponds to concentrate it, selectively crystalizing the desired salts (such as lithium salts) out, and setting the remaining salts back on the salt flat. Every year the annual floods come and resurface the entire thing.

You know, sometimes it feels like people just want to hate any new technology.

Comment Re:Sakura Battery (Score 4, Funny) 118

My father has had various top executive roles in oil companies for the past two decades. We often crack jokes with each other about this sort of stuff. "Gee, dad, how was work - suppress any new revolutionary clean energy technologies today?" "Only two... and you know we've only managed to buy off twelve congressmen this month - total? *Sigh*, the business just isn't what it used to be..." "Oh, sorry to hear that dad... maybe you should start a new war, that always works." "Yeah, I'll bring it up at the next Illuminati meeting..." ;)

Comment Re: But (Score 1) 139

Science works by peer-review. There's ample peer-review on the topic. If the word "nutter" has any meaning, it's "people who refuse to accept peer-reviewed science."

And obsessing over past interactions with people and following them around (including mentioning them in places where they're not even involved in the conversation) is otherwise known as cyberstalking

Comment Re:How does space elevator save energy? (Score 1) 139

Talking about "energy costs" shows rank amateurism when talking about space flight. Virtually the entire cost is the flight hardware and ground support infrastructure. Energy costs aren't even rounding error on those.

Wow, it's almost as if my original post didn't read:

. So you can see that the fuel costs are just the tiniest fraction, and that it's the engineering challenges of cost-effective production and reuse that are the issue.

The "rank amateurism" here is in your reading comprehension.

Comment Re:How does space elevator save energy? (Score 1) 139

What do you mean "you were using"? Gravitational potential energy at Earth at sea level is 9,81 * ChangeInAltitude * mass. 35,5 m/s * 9,81 * 20000 = 7MJ/s = 7MW. If you "were using" 2,4MW then you were only climbing at 12,2m/s meaning your entire trip takes 41 days - over a month. Which means that your elevator has laughably worthless throughput. And 20k kg climber requires a massive elevator massing millions of tonnes *with* unobtanium. So you're proposing to launch millions of tonnes of unobtanium to GEO in order to send a fraction of 20tonnes up once every 41 days? Good luck with that.

You could expect 60% efficiency

That's exceedingly optimistic even for monochromatic light (which I see we're back to discussing). Have you ever priced the sort of Spectrolab cells you're proposing here? And anyway the highest monochromatic conversion rate ever recorded - lab scale - was 53%.

Remember that PV efficiency goes up as the light gets brighter

Only when you can keep the cells cooled to the same ambient temperature (and it's only a relatively small gain). How exactly do you propose to ditch megawatts of waste heat up there? Heat is a killer to solar cell efficiency. And several megawatts shining on a relatively small area is otherwise known as "vaporizing it".

No comments about the 0,1%-ish efficiency of the sorts of lasers that actually have the coherency and power to beam over such distances, I see. Even over the distances of your "in-orbit" lasers, of which apparently you want there to be hundreds of thousands if you want to ensure that there's one close to the tower at all altitudes at all points in time. Hundreds of thousands of multi-megawatt lasers each consuming a gigawatt or so of power. In order to launch a fraction of 20 tonnes to GEO once every 41 days. Great strategy.

Economically the construction cost will be huge, but once you have one you can build more relatively cheaply because it costs very little to get mass into orbit.

There is nothing "cheap" about what you're proposing. Your capital costs are nonsensically high, and you have to pay interest on capital costs if you want to live in the real world, and interest accrues interest. You will never, ever reach an economically valid argument for it. And for what gain? If you're turning $0,08/kWh industrial-rate grid electricity into climbing power at 0,05% efficiency then you're paying $160/kg to get to orbit, several times the price to orbit of what's possible with a rocket if it can be made reusable with minimal turnaround costs between flights (as mentioned earlier, the Shuttle's propellant cost to orbit was only $80/kg, most of that in the SRBs, which aren't the cheapest of propellants). And of course it's not even close to a Lofstrom loop, which can be made without unobtanium and deliver payloads at an energy cost to orbit of about $1,60/kg, with present tech.

Speed isn't a huge problem if your cable can support multiple climbers.

So you want to make your cable even bigger, heavier, and more expensive. How many times more expensive do you want to make it? 5 times? 10 times? 100 times? Why not just say that your cable is going to be the mass of the moon's worth of unobtanium while you're at it?

And again, we're only talking about the most basic of problems with space elevators here, let alone actually getting into the countless engineering problems, some of which have no known solutions, and none of which you really have a mass safety margin to properly address. The resonance issues are some of my favorite ones: from the climbers, from the atmosphere, from the sun and from the moon. You have a giant cable which has basically zero ability to damp itself, and no mass leeway to install any sort of damping system of the sort of magnitude needed to counter oscillations. On top of the fact that even made of unobtanium it's an ultrathin structure that can barely support itself and has to be able to withstand hypersonic impacts of microscopic debris and long-term exposure to the Van Allen belts at the time time, while in the atmosphere it's going to face wind loading (they call it a ribbon for a reason, and ribbons *blow*), potentially many times higher than that of climbers, potential icing, certain wetting, lighting (which even if the cable itself isn't conductive, the water on it will make for an easier ground path than the air), upper atmospheric (sprite) lightning as well, oxidation (no mass margin for protective coatings), and on and on down the line.

The space elevator concept needs to be consigned to the dustbin. It was a neat thought experiment for a while until the real-world hit. And now we have actually potentially workable structures (the actively suspended ones) that supercede it in every measure, so there's no point to it.

Comment Re:How does space elevator save energy? (Score 1) 139

It's a lot more fundamental than that. Even with 120 GPa unobtanium they still can't support themselves over those sorts of distances - any cable has to have a large taper factor (the lower the breaking strength, the larger the taper factor is needed). Which makes moving cables impossible, because as soon as you rotate it, the taper is structured all wrong - it has to constantly be thickest at the top and thinnest at the bottom or it will break.

Comment Re:How does space elevator save energy? (Score 2) 139

Solar cells may produce - on a clear day - 200W/m^2, if they're sun-tracking and unshadowed. A climber climbing over the course of two weeks (more on that in just a second, you need to climb far faster) has to climb 35,5 meters per second. A small 1 tonne climber with 2 tonnes of cargo requires 1 megawatt of power, meaning 5000 square meters. Think you can fit 5000 square meters of sun-tracking solar cells on a climber that only weighs one tonne?

Speed is important because it defines throughput, and your cables - even if you have some mythical unobtanium 100-120 Gpa diamond filament tether - are still very massive objects with very tiny objects climbing them, meaning you need high throughput to make them economically justifiable.

I don't think most people discussing space elevators realize how tiny the margins on these things have to be even with a cable made of unobtanium. Inside the atmosphere is irrelevant. It's the tiniest fraction of your 43000 kilometer trip, you have no margin to make a special case for in-atmosphere propulsion. It's only relevant for the additional problems it causes your cable, such as wind, lightning, ice, oxidation, etc.

Space elevators really aren't a good design. They're just totally impractical even when made of unobtanium. But science fiction has locked a generation onto this concept when there are far better concepts available.

Comment Re: But (Score 0) 139

Aww, my stalker is back! Hi, stalker!

Don't you have some nutters over at the USGS to argue with? Damned USGS and their pie-in-the-sky analysis that is pretty much exactly what I wrote a couple weeks ago concerning resource availability and work/uncertainties that remain to be resolved! Given that this is what led you to start stalking me, you might want to split your time with stalking them too.

Comment Re:How does space elevator save energy? (Score 1) 139

No, I mean $18k. From your link:

by 2011, the incremental cost per flight of the Space Shuttle was estimated at $450 million,[3] or $18,000 per kilogram (approximately $8,000 per pound) to low Earth orbit (LEO).

The $60k is when you include the cost of the whole program (including the design/development phase) which no figure in my post included. If you want to compare, you need to compare equivalent situations: the incremental cost per launch. And the incremental cost per launch of the Shuttle was an estimated $18k/kg.

Comment Re: The treaty says no such thing. (Score 1) 211

No need to "wipe a small country off the map". Take any of the countless areas on Earth with low populations of ideally nomadic people and offer them a nice chunk of money if they'll be willing to, every few years with long advance warning, move out of the impact zone along with their livestock. Or simply pick an area with no people at all. Greenland would love some extra income, they're big into encouraging mining and have vast glacial landscapes which would be easy to find your impactors on (it'd have no relevant impact on the rate of melt, and meteor-hunting expeditions are often done in Antarctica because they stand out so well against the snow). Shallow seas might be a good option. Salars would be great - generally little to nothing lives there and they're naturally resurfaced annually, so the impactors wouldn't leave a scar. It all depends on how accurate you can be with your impactors.

As for the environment, when you're talking about vaporized rock ablating in the air and plumes of dust being kicked up on impact... it's really not going to be anything compared to what, say, volcanoes do, or wind erosion. Really, I'd expect less environmental impact than a normal terrestrial mine. You could probably even sell your tailings to people who want to build things out of rock from space ;)

All programmers are playwrights and all computers are lousy actors.