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Geothermal energy use on Mars – likely a bit too far fetched

Geothermal energy use on Mars – likely a bit too far fetched 3D mockup of planet Mars (source: flickr/ Kevin Gill, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 13 Oct 2016

A possible colonisation of Mars made the news last week, and geothermal energy as a possible energy source for this plans was mentioned ... but seems to be a bit too far fetched. It sounded cool though.

Last week we reported that “geothermal energy could become a crucial source of energy for the colonization of Mars, as planned by SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk.”

We have since learned that this might be – not only a little bit – too far fetched as an option.

Last week, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk announced plans for the colonization of planet Mars within the next 6 years. So while the challenge of getting there is huge, one major obstacle for staying there for years requires energy. So while solar energy is likely a key source, there will also be need for heat … and this is where geothermal was mentioned in an article on Forbes.com

In the article, the author described geothermal energy as a potential valid source of energy.  ….

Well and this is where the click-bait story ends … as I have been told by various comments since posting the news.

The best counter argument was given by an engineer of consultancy Jacobs, among the largest engineering teams servicing the geothermal sector.

He essentially makes the point that “there is practically no atmosphere on Mars, so means of heat rejection needs to be considered.

The basic requirements for a geothermal power plant on Mars would be (i) an accessible source of hot fluids and (ii) an accessible (overlying) source of cold fluids to use as the heat sink.

The hydrological model would thus be a intermediate to deep geothermal system with hot fluids, which is over-lain by a body of cool fluid; these two (hot and cool) reservoirs would have to be more or less at the same location, or in relatively close proximity.

There should be minimal communication between the shallow cool reservoir and the intermediate to deep hot reservoir.

And it also follows that both the cooled heat source fluid and the warmed cooling fluid should be reinjected into the respective reservoirs, rather than being flashed off to “atmosphere” and lost forever.”

… so essentially from a practicallity perspective this seems to be more than far fetched. Too sad .. sounded simply intriguing.

Thanks to Tracy Mills of Jacobs in New Zealand for his valid commentary on our story.

Source: Forbes, Dezeen