Photovoltaic versus nuclear on Mars – pv magazine International

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Solar power could be more efficient than nuclear power in providing power for an extended six-person mission to Mars that will involve a 480-day stay on the planet’s surface before returning to Earth, according to news reports. American research.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley compared how photovoltaic or nuclear power could power a crewed outpost for an extended period on Mars and determined that solar power offers the best performance.

“Photovoltaic power generation coupled with certain molecular hydrogen energy storage configurations outperforms nuclear fusion reactors on 50% of the planet’s surface, primarily in regions around the equatorial band, in contrast quite strongly with what has been proposed over and over again in the literature, which is that it will be nuclear energy,” said UC Berkeley researcher Aaron Berliner, noting that two energy sources were compared for the power for an extended six-person mission to Mars involving a 480-day stay on the planet’s surface before returning to Earth.

The US team considered four different scenarios: nuclear power generation with the miniaturized Kilopower nuclear fission system, photovoltaic power generation with battery energy storage, photovoltaic power generation with energy storage compressed hydrogen produced by electrolysis and the production of hydrogen with compressed hydrogen energy storage (PEC). .

“In our calculations, we assumed a capacity factor of 75% to account for the deflection of the solar flux throughout the Martian year and sized the energy storage systems to allow 1 full day of operation from reserve power,” the group explained. “We then calculated the drive mass requirements for each of the power generation systems considered.”

Scientists have found that of the three PV-based power generation options, only the photovoltaic plus electrolyzer system outperforms the residual mass-based nuclear system. They also stated that the optimal absorption bandgaps for PV systems strongly depend on the location on the surface of Mars, the total depth of the air column above a given location, the gradients of dust and ice concentration and orbital geometry effects that cause different effective effects. air column thicknesses for locations near the poles.

“In conclusion, solar cell arrays with careful attention to semiconductor choice and device construction represent a promising technology for maintaining an Earth-independent inhabited habitat on Mars,” the academics said. “Our analysis provides design rules for solar cells on the surface of Mars and shows that solar cells can offer a substantial reduction in mass requirements compared to alternative technology over much of the planet’s surface.”

They explained their findings in “Photovoltaic Power Generation Can Support Human Exploration on Mars,” which was recently published in Borders.

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