Can We Beam Heat Into Space?


The question, Can we beam heat into space? is one that has been puzzling scientists and engineers for years. While we know that solar panels emit heat, we don’t know where it goes.

Solar panels may be tilted or connected to cool things, but the problem is that they point at the space environment, where the temperature is cold and the heat is a waste. So how can we avoid the problem?

Heat Into Space

The idea to beam solar energy into space was first proposed in 1941 by Isaac Asimov, who described a space station that could send solar energy to planets beyond Earth.

In 1968, NASA researchers developed the concept of a solar power satellite, utilizing a square mile of solar collectors in high geosynchronous orbit. These panels would absorb the sun’s energy and turn it into a microwave beam that would be transmitted to Earth’s large receiving antennas. Now, NASA is conducting its “Fresh Look” study into space solar power concepts, which could be used to beam solar energy into space.

Infrared radiation

During a solar eclipse, the sun’s infrared rays can penetrate the atmosphere and transfer heat to the Earth.

This heat energy is emitted as infrared light, which has a wavelength of between eight and thirteen micrometers, a few hundred thousandths of an inch.

Similarly, infrared rays escape from the earth through the upper atmosphere, reaching space at the same time.

Dyson-Harrop satellite

The Dyson-Harrop satellite is a futuristic device that would beam heat into space. It relies on a constant solar wind high above the ecliptic, the plane defined by the Earth’s orbit around the sun. It would be millions of kilometers above Earth and produce a beam thousands of kilometers across. The satellite would need a lens between ten and 100 meters in diameter to be effective.

Infrared panels

Scientists believe infrared panels’ ability to beam heat into space. The scientists involved in the project, led by the late Professor Raman, developed an innovative design that uses layers of polystyrene and silicon dioxide.

This layer acts like a high-tech mirror, reflecting the sun’s rays and beaming heat to the surrounding space. These panels could lower indoor temperatures by as much as 5 degrees Celsius. The layer reflects nearly all of the sunlight, passing through the atmosphere and into space.

Aerogel based insulation of radiators

An aerogel is a porous solid, mostly composed of air. These materials are highly insulating because of their low thermal conductivity and low air flow.

To make them, scientists remove liquid from a solution, but leave the spaces between the particles. These spaces become the aerogel pores. A catalyst then bonds the particles together, creating an insulating material. An aerogel can be as large as two meters square, or as small as one cubic foot.

Reflective film

Scientists at Stanford University have developed a new material that can reflect a broad range of light. This new material is 1.8 microns thick, which makes it 50 times thinner than paper.

It is made of silicon dioxide, hafnium oxide, and silver, and works as a mirror to reflect nearly all incoming sunlight. The film is a highly reflective material, transferring infrared heat from within a building to the surrounding space. It is a viable method of cooling buildings because of the large amount of sunlight it can absorb.

Cooling buildings without electricity

A new invention could drastically cut the amount of electricity used for cooling buildings during the summer, thanks to a revolutionary new material.

This material, which is 1.8 microns thick, beams heat directly into outer space and can be manufactured on a large commercial scale.

This new material could reduce energy costs and the demand for electricity, as air conditioning currently consumes about 15% of electricity consumption in the United States. This technology may also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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