A prototype of wind turbinedesigned by a Guipuzcoan research centerin Spainwhich would serve to act in difficult environmental conditions of Marsbrings closer the possibility of use the wind of the red planet as an energy generator electricity in future space exploration missions.
He Basque technology center Teknikerresponsible for the manufacturing of this prototype for the European Space Agency (ESA)has made this project known after validating it “in a wide range of test campaigns” developed in its facilities Eibar (Gipuzkoa).
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This “Martian” wind turbinethe first of these characteristicshas been developed since 2021 within the framework of ‘Horace’ project, funded by ESA which also has facilitated its testing in the wind tunnel at the University of Aarhus (Denmark)a “unique” facility to simulate the environmental conditions of the red planet.
The conditions of Mars
So, The prototype has been tested with wind gusts of between 26 and 16 meters per second and one atmospheric pressure of between 8 and 16 millibarscommon conditions on said planet.
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The wind turbine, of a maximum electrostatic power of 15 kilowatts and that works at one speed between 50 and 432 revolutions per minutecould increase a 31 percent the energy generation in the environment of this planet compared to the Earth’s atmosphere.
The initiative seeks to take advantage of the environment of the “red planet” to convert the mechanical energy of the wind into electricity
In addition, it has a rotary and pressurized mechanism that allows the movement of the shaft and prevents the entry of dust by means of a sealing element.
The researcher and head of the Tekniker space sector, Borja Pozo, explained that This initiative “seeks to take advantage of the planet’s environment to convert the mechanical energy of the wind into electricity and thus have a source of wind energy auxiliary to the solar cells that are normally used.
In this way, he said, It will be possible to obtain “a constant and reliable energy supply” that is “fundamental for space missions and habitability in a territory like Mars”.
The team that designed the turbine “was based on a relatively new and promising technology to be used in spacehow is the energy triboelectric“he added.
He recalled in this sense that “Common electromagnetic generators have limitations for planetary exploration due, mainly, to their great weightwhich causes high launch costs“.
“In this project,” he added, We have investigated triboelectric generators as an alternativewhich have a lower weight and volume and allow missions to be made more efficient and economical.
With this device it will be possible to obtain a constant and reliable energy supply, essential for space missions and habitability in a territory like Mars.
This technology is based on the production of energy through friction and has required the development and testing of a combination of triboelectric materials “advanced devices that have excellent properties” for performance in the extreme conditions of Mars.
“We have selected for the prototype he aluminumthe coating ‘Diamond Like Carbon’ (DLC) and the modified teflon due to its greater power densityas well as his Potential use as lubricants and solid films in the Martian environment“he explained.
The research work developed by Teknikeras well as his knowledge in the field of coatings and the materialshas allowed optimize turbine architecture for resolve resistance limitations to abrasion, lubrication capacity, durability and aging, until achieving “more than two million nominal operating cycles” with that first prototype.
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Thanks to this innovative turbine, ESA will now have “a essential knowledge to define the industrialization roadmap of this novel system of energy generation”.
Among the next steps of the investigation now is the turbine design optimization and new test campaigns until demonstrate the correct operation of the model for the environment and conditions of Mars.