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Airdate: Jun 15, 2012
Scientist: David Criswell

Lunar Solar Power - Silicon Moon

Lunar Solar Power - Silicon Moon
By using silicon on the moon to build solar panels, we could efficiently power the entire planet with solar energy captured on the moon.

Transcript:
Lunar Solar Power - Silicon Moon

Music

JM: If we could efficiently tap the energy of the sun, we'd be able to supply affordable electricity for the entire world. But thus far, solar power has not proved to be cost effective or available at all times. One radical solution would be to build solar reflectors on the moon and transmit the energy to earth in the form of microwaves. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Now what do you think you could make lunar based solar panels out of? And here's a hint: it isn't green cheese.

DC: "We've all seen pictures of the moon and when you just look at it, and you look at that lifeless environment, you think what could I possibly do with what's there. But it turns out all of the things that make the moon horrible for life make it great for integrated circuitry. The moon is absolutely dry. It has no gases or chemicals that attack solid state circuitry. And any handful of dirt that you pick up is twenty percent silicon."

JM: David R. Criswell is the director of the Institute for Space Systems Operations at the University of Houston.

DC: "What you've got on the moon are literally millions and millions of acres of raw land that can be changed into integrated circuitry. Anyplace you go on the moon, the dirt that is there can be used to make glass by simply melting and forming through our known glass-making processes. And you can extract the silicon to make solar cells. What you're doing is sending machines up to the moon that will make glass, glass fibers that will be used to support all of your circuitry, and then extracting the chemicals from the moon such as silicon, iron, and aluminum, to complete those circuits. And once this machinery gets to the moon, it can produce very large amounts of solar converters and microwave transmitters, and at a very small penalty for the cost of going to the moon."

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