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According to Geology.com's web-article Active Volcanoes of Our Solar System, there are several volcanically active regions in the solar system asides from the Earth. In particular, the satellites Europa and Ganymede (Jupiter), Enceladus and Titan (Saturn) and Triton (Neptune) exhibit a type of volcanism known as cryovolcanism.

Cryovolcanism is defined by NASA as:

Eruption of water or other liquid or vapor-phase volatiles (collectively referred to as "cryomagma"), together with gas-driven solid fragments, onto the surface of a planet or moon due to internal heating.

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Image and definition source

Has there been any research that investigates how viable cryovolcanism would be as a power source to a future colony?

How does the energy output of cryovolcanoes compare to 'normal' magmatic volcanoes?

Note: I have read the thread What types of sustainable energy are available beyond Mars? and are looking at cryovolcanism in particular

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Harnessing the Cryovolcano itself would be rather difficult - just like trying to generate power from a terrestrial volcano - the area is usually unstable, eruptions are not continuous or consistently the same force, etc.

However, Geothermal heat might be useful - we drill down through the icey-crust into the warm(er) watery 'mantle', run some pipe, and pump down liquid helium/nitrogen. That liquid boils, and can power a turbine in much the same way steam-turbines work. The big problem is finding a way to cool/condense the gas into a liquid effectively.

There's LOTS of issues with finding materials that are stable at cryogenic temperatures, but the basic concept should be workable. The mechanical aspect would need to be designed for the phase-change temp-range of whatever liquid you chose, which in-turn, depends on just how cold the target planet is. I'm not that smart, and the suggestion of liquid helium/nitrogen is not much more than a guess on my part. (Both are non-corrosive and well-understood industrial products, so they'd be good candidates.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Out of curiosity, would the turbine have to be designed for cryogenic temperatures, or non-cryo? I'm thinking of all those reports of radiator pipes bursting because of the expansion; may be different in this case ... $\endgroup$ – Everyone Oct 7 '13 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ They'd have to be designed for the phase-change temp-range of whatever liquid you chose, which in-turn, depends on just how cold the target planet is. I'm not that smart, and the suggestion of liquid helium/nitrogen is not much more than a guess on my part. (Both are non-corrosive and well-understood industrial products, so they'd be good candidates.) $\endgroup$ – john3103 Oct 7 '13 at 15:18
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I think it's viable to produce power from cryovolcanism since they eject very cold liquid or plumes at high pressure(or we can drill a pipes deep and connect the output to turbine but the turbine will become brittle and break) we can make a turbine to rotate as the fluid is ejected and the turbine is connected to a generator which generates electricity by electromagnetic induction

But the main problem is that it needs to work at cryogenic temperatures. So the materials would become brittle and may fracture under such cyclic force.

But using the temperature and pressure under the ground we can make the geothermal energy by drilling deep pipes to heat the water and convert it to steam and run the turbine. But the main issue here is that water would freeze before it is pumped to hot rocks so it must be preheated and another thing is that even though it's heated to steam as it moves up its losses it temperature and eventually become water so you cannot run the turbine. The pipes must be insulated to maximum extent.

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