How Much Thermal Energy is Needed for a Four Month Space Journey?

• CIm
In summary, the idea is to use thermal energy to create electrical energy, which could be stored on board a spacecraft to provide power for the crew. However, the idea has some limitations, and it would require a lot of batteries to power the ship for a four-month journey.
CIm
Hello! I was wondering if someone could take a look at this idea and tell me if there is something wrong with it:

In attempting to shut down every part of a hypothetical spacecraft except some sort of highly insulated crew pod, the total amount of heat produced over a period of time is equal to the total calories consumed minus any useful mechanical work performed. If a person consumes an average of 2400 kilocalories per day, the average heat produced is 100 kilocalories per hour or 116 watts.

Ignoring all other assumptions, if you were to convert that heat buildup to electrical storage, you get 20 crew x 1 day, 55.68 kilowatts. A kilogram of Li-ion stores 128 Wh[1], so you need 435 kilograms to store the heat energy of the crew for the day. Multiply that by 120 days and you get a little over sixty tons of Li-ion batteries required for a four month journey, easy to fit in on a ten thousand ton ship. With lithium thionyl chloride, used in extremely hazardous or critical applications such as space flight and deep sea diving, you get a little over 10 tons needed.

Now you probably won't get all of the thermal energy, but using new technological advances [2] and say dunking the lot in water to slowly absorb the rest for four months, could you conceivably keep a vessel of this sort at or as near to ambient as makes no odds?

[2]http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100930154610.htm"

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Uhm seems like you are ignoring the second principle of thermodynamics. To convert thermal energy to work you need to reservoirs at different temperatures. A lower ratio between the lesser temperature and the upper temperaturemakes the efficiency of you thermal engine higher. Assuming you have an internal temperature equal to 300 Kelvin, what do you plan the lower temperature resorvoir to be?

Petr Mugver said:
Assuming you have an internal temperature equal to 300 Kelvin, what do you plan the lower temperature resorvoir to be?
Since the idea is to keep the ship, except the small crew pod, which is inside the ship, at ambient space temperature, it would be around three kelvin. The apparatus to convert the thermal energy to electrical energy and the storage medium would be at the ambient ship temperature, and inside the ship as well.

So it should be technically doable?

Petr Mugver said:
A lower ratio between the lesser temperature and the upper temperaturemakes the efficiency of you thermal engine higher.
Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but the Carnot limit on thermal efficiency is

So the maximum possible efficiency would by 99% in this case, so you'd only need to absorb around 60 kilowatts of heat for the entire journey? Note that you could vent it afterwards, its just being stored long enough to get there.

1. What is thermal energy conversion?

Thermal energy conversion is the process of converting heat energy into other forms of energy, such as mechanical or electrical energy.

2. What are the applications of thermal energy conversion?

Thermal energy conversion has various applications, including power generation, heating and cooling systems, and industrial processes such as refining and manufacturing.

3. How does thermal energy conversion work?

Thermal energy conversion works by utilizing a heat source, such as burning fossil fuels or nuclear reactions, to heat a fluid, typically water. The heated fluid then produces steam, which drives a turbine to generate electricity.

4. What are the benefits of thermal energy conversion?

The benefits of thermal energy conversion include its reliability, as heat sources are readily available, and its efficiency, as it can convert a high percentage of heat energy into usable electricity.

5. Are there any drawbacks to thermal energy conversion?

One of the main drawbacks of thermal energy conversion is its environmental impact, as it often relies on burning fossil fuels, which contribute to air pollution and climate change. It also requires a significant amount of water, which can strain water resources in some areas.

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