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Solar Windmill

  1. Nov 20, 2003 #1
    How fast could a space based windmill turn when driven by the solar wind?

    Would such a device produce more or less energy than a solar panel of the same cost?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2003 #2

    enigma

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    Less. You'd need to use fuel to keep it stationary.
     
  4. Nov 20, 2003 #3

    turin

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    Why would you need to keep it stationary?
     
  5. Nov 20, 2003 #4

    drag

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    Greetings !
    A normal windmill is turned by an air stream but it
    is also pushed by the airstream. If you want to do the
    same in space (very ineffective in most cases, btw)
    then there'll be nothing to keep this "sunmill" in place. :wink:

    Live long and prosper.
     
  6. Nov 20, 2003 #5

    turin

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    That still doesn't answer my question.
     
  7. Nov 20, 2003 #6

    enigma

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    If you don't keep it at a stationary distance from the sun (sorry... probably should have quantified that), it will just soar out of the solar system and you will need to build another one.
     
  8. Nov 20, 2003 #7

    turin

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    Couldn't you just put it in orbit and let gravity take care of that little problem?
     
  9. Nov 20, 2003 #8

    enigma

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    Not if the sun is pushing it away.

    Gravity will keep an object in a set orbit. If you could possibly gather enough energy from the solar wind to be competitive with photoarrays, the wind would be providing a very large force pushing the "windmill" away. Gravity gets weaker the further out you go, so unless you actively push yourself back, you'll get pushed all the way out after a while.
     
  10. Nov 20, 2003 #9

    turin

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    Good point; I lost track of the original question.
     
  11. Nov 21, 2003 #10
    Lets nail it to the moon.
     
  12. Nov 21, 2003 #11

    drag

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    Greetings !
    Actually that would work. If you put it in an
    orbit with a slower than required orbital velocity,
    around the sun, then the force acting to push
    it away will be balanced by gravity. Of course,
    you'll either have to put it very close to the
    sun or have a poor power generation capability
    (which is probably gon'na be the case anyway).

    It could, perhaps, be possible to build some kind
    of a solar-wind-mill using magneticly trapped huge
    clouds of gas which will capture solar-wing particles
    (like the M2P2 propulsion technology principle).
    But then, containing the gas may be a problem,
    yet it should still be more efficient than just
    a normal sunlight-mill.

    Live long and prosper.
     
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