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Regolith power (revisited)

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Right now my regolith is coming in at about 310C. As many of you have discovered, this is a bit of a moving target.

I was ranching voles just beneath my rocket silo. I had a row of steel airlocks, and automation to drop regolith debris into my stable each time a meteor shower ended.  That's why the un-groomed stable is the width of the silo (bigger than you usually see) The problem is, eventually all my steel equipment started overheating because it was in the same room with hundreds of tons of 310C regolith.

So, the doors got replaced by obsidian tile, & I'll move the regolith with conveyors. So primitive: auto-miners wait for regolith to fall in & get to work. The regolith will be conveyed through a steam turbine heating chamber & then back out to the vole stables.

Other approaches are probably "strictly better" - for instance, Regolith crusher & rapid transport using doors. If you haven't seen this concept, have a watch. I don't think brothgar is the first one to post this idea, in fact I thought I'd seen it from John Francis but I couldn't easily locate the video so I might be mistaken. (My build, I just wanted to see what it takes to do it with auto miners)

(note 4 wide rocket silo with all steam rockets, this is an early endgame)



Set up up a room for conveyance. Here I used my telescope & radar room. The steel doors open about 5 seconds before the bunker doors finish opening, and stay open for 20 seconds before closing again. At all times, there's 30 g/s of cool CO2 flowing in (split between those 3 vents) so that the temp sensors can get a read. When things get hot (for a few seconds after dropping regolith) flow rate goes up to 300g/s.




1 rail can move 12 tons per day, enough to feed 2.5 happy/tame voles, that's 12 wild or glum voles. The point is, you might want more than one rail. But you need to cool that regolith or everything in your stables will break. Steam turbine is up to the task. And here I've shown the unfortunate drawback of this approach, if the regolith touches one of your machines in the air, that machine will overheat. I'd say it happens 1 in 10 times.

I'm finding that 1 steam turbine can cool 1 full capacity conveyor rail of regolith to around 150C. If you want it cooler, your need more than one steam turbine. My design here has a cooling setpoint, above which the output shuts off & material on the conveyor switches to moving in a circle until temperature goes back below the setpoint. (I've found the setpoint needs to be around 150C to prevent material from ever looping back)



Lastly, here's how it looks in operation:


Edit: "Regolith power" is a bit of a misnomer here, the steam turbine only makes about 360 w, steady state. that's enough to power two sweepers and one loader. I guess it's more just cooling the regolith to manageable temps and conveying it for free.



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