Jeff Greason, Chairman of the Tau Zero Foundation (formerly of X-Cor, formerly of Rotary Rocket) is talking about Electric Sky: A Long-Range Wireless Power Transmission System Enabling Orbital Launch Vehicles, with Terrestrial Commerical Applications
Questions Driving Electric Sky"
* Is there any way to bring the cost of a passenger ticket to orbit below $10,000?
* Is there any technology which would allow for high speed point-to-point transport which is both faster and cheaper than subsonic aviation?
* Is there one technology that might do both things?
(Jeff is speaking as an employee of Electric Sky, I think, not as chairperson of Tau Zero)
The Promise of Beams
* Size and cost of vehicles driven by energy storage
* Mature operating cost driven by the price of energy
* If you can beam the power to the vehicle, then
- The energy is massless
- Electricity costs about half as much as fuel
- Electricity-to-work conversion is 2-3 times more efficient than fuel-to-work
Table showing different wavelengths, cost per watt, area of transmitter, and receiver. UHF is super cheap and the receivers are efficient, but the area is HUGE.
There are other practical "beam like" solutions to Maxwell's equations!
A class of Airy solutions in particular has relevance for power beams (Chremmos 2011)
Tight focus a long way from the transmitter AND the beam in the middle is diffuse, which greatly reduces worries about accidental exposure.
Here's a picture of the slide That's a real picture of a real laser.
Same thing in the RF domain.
Next slide: 915 MHz, 740km transmission (i.e. satellite).
Following slide: 915 MHz, 125 km transmission. Sparse array for launch vehicle first stage, 40% of power in 12m radius.
(Ed: Holy shit this is exciting!)
Lot of other markets for beamed power: UAVs, UAMs (flying cars), electric aircraft (propeller and eJets)
* Exploring a range of frequencies
* Receivers are smaller, concerns over accidental beam exposure higher
* Looks doable but still work to be done
For meter-to-50m ranges
* Spinoff beam receiver work
* Extends inductive near field coupling
* Pursuing that as early revenue
* Wireless power at kW scale
* Breadboarding in the lab now (picture of a literal breadboard with LEDs)
Question about steering the beam.
You have to steer the beam in all three axes!
(Ed: seems similar to MIMO beamforming)