Quantum Locking Space Elevator

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D-503
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Quantum Locking Space Elevator

Postby D-503 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:02 pm UTC

Is quantum locking is powerful enough to build a space elevator? Here's one scenario for how it could be done:
1. Put a giant superconducter panel into orbit (I hear the thickness doesn't matter so it could potentially have a very large area without being too heavy).
2. Fly a shuttle carrying a powerful electomagnet under it then activate the superconducter panel (this could be done by shielding them from sunlight).
3. An inbound space shuttle does the same thing on the opposite side of the superconducter panel while heading in the opposite direction.
4. The superconducter panel acts as a pivot using the rotational energy from the inbound shuttle as it approaches Earth to propel the outbound shuttle into space.

peregrine_crow
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Re: Quantum Locking Space Elevator

Postby peregrine_crow » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:26 pm UTC

I'm not sure I completely understand your idea, but it sounds like a somewhat more sophisticated version of a skyhook. If that is correct then what is the advantage of superconducters over a regular (very strong) cable with a hook attached?
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D-503
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Re: Quantum Locking Space Elevator

Postby D-503 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:06 pm UTC

Cables are limited in length by their weight to strength ratio. If the cable becomes too long its own weight will create so much tension that it will snap. Carbon nano-tubes are a promising technology in this area, but I don't think anyone has succeeded in making them long enough yet. Also, catching a skyhook and dangling it into the atmosphere from outer space both seem like difficult problems.

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Neil_Boekend
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Re: Quantum Locking Space Elevator

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:33 pm UTC

My musings on this:

How would you make a magnetic field strong enough to lift anything at that height? Or do you propose to place the quantum locking elevator above a pole and use the earth's magnetic field?
The thinness of the elevator structure is limited by the lifting weight. What you don't want is the structure to fold due to structural failure. Putting a load in the middle of a non-rigid structure that can slide horizontally is going to do just that. Like putting a load in the middle of a few square meters of bubble wrap on water, but without the lifting effect that bubble wrap still has under water.
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Hypnosifl
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Re: Quantum Locking Space Elevator

Postby Hypnosifl » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:11 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:My musings on this:

How would you make a magnetic field strong enough to lift anything at that height? Or do you propose to place the quantum locking elevator above a pole and use the earth's magnetic field?

Wouldn't the idea work equally well if the superconducting panel was just in orbit? Unless I'm misunderstanding the proposal (which is quite possible), you don't even need a "space elevator" in the sense of a ribbon reaching down from orbital height to the Earth's surface, this idea is just about a possible way to transfer momentum between an incoming space shuttle and an outgoing space shuttle, using the fact that a superconductor with "quantum locking" (the technical term is flux pinning, but quantum locking was used as a verbal description in a popular youtube video about it) will try to maintain a constant orientation relative to an external magnet. One would have to do a calculation to see how strongly the effect works in reverse (the degree to which applying a torque to a flux-pinned superconductor by moving one magnet will impart rotational momentum to a second magnet next to the superconductor) to see if it would be of any practical use, though.

D-503
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Re: Quantum Locking Space Elevator

Postby D-503 » Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:51 am UTC

Another more elevator like design would be to create something like this where pairs of superconducting panels are activated as they are moved up a shaft using solar powered motors.

Code: Select all

     O           O < motor turns a belt with the super conducting panels attached
    | |---- ----| |
    | |         | |
    | =========== | < structural support
    | |         | |
----| |         | |---- < deactivated superconducting panels returning to the bottom
     O           O

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Neil_Boekend
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Re: Quantum Locking Space Elevator

Postby Neil_Boekend » Fri Sep 26, 2014 6:47 am UTC

Flux pinning or quantum locking needs a vertical magnetic field to work. Any force acting on the superconductor is transferred to the source of that magnetic field.
How do you propose to create a magnetic field in orbit while the source is stable enough to support the weight of the superconductor and the load it need to lift?
I see only a few ways:
1. Use the magnetic field of the earth. Thus you'd need a place where that magnetic field is vertical, which means you need to be at either the north or the south pole.
2. Use a magnetic field from earth. It needs to be massive to have enough power at such a massive distance. It'd need to be about as strong as the natural magnetic field of the earth. Magnetic field strength drops fast with distance.
3. Use a field from an electromagnet in orbit. Same problem, but the massive power needed to get the field or the massive amount of permanent magnetic material is going to be a problem.
4. Use magic.
5. ...
6. Profit!
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D-503
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Re: Quantum Locking Space Elevator

Postby D-503 » Fri Sep 26, 2014 9:19 am UTC

Both designs are were intended to keep the superconductor panels in orbit because it's easy to keep them cold in space. I only now realize the second design could be used from ground level (that seems to be the way you interpreted it). The scenario I had in mind for the second design was to build a ship around a giant solenoid and lift it into space by its magnetic field. The magnetic field strength could still be an issue.


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