Recently, there was a thread on Hacker News about building a nuclear power plant on the moon.
Humans being what they are, I could imagine some dark outcomes. Instead could we build a steam engine on the moon and drive it with energy from the sun?
Granted a solar array ON the moon is not going to work half the time. But how about a solar array on a satellite around the moon? It would be cheaper to deploy. Already exists. 10 kw can be generated by an array the size of a small rooftop. Getting the power to the moon is the remaining engineering challenge. And learning how to do this would have tremendous benefits for the exploration of space in general. Although current tech using masers exists, I cannot imagine why we could not use recently developed high frequency lasers to boil water on the moon to run a steam turbine. (Which we would need to get from a comet). Besides the obvious steampunk attraction of a steam engine on the moon, the presence of a large reservoir of heat energy at a stable temperature could facilitate the temperature regulation of a nearby colony. And the constant supply of energy could drive ion engines that use the dust of the moon as a reaction mass making trips to lunar orbit free. (This is a wild idea because you’d have to charge the dust with high voltage and accelerate it out of a nozzle)
I just don’t like the idea of concentrated points of failure that are easy to subvert into weapons like a dirty bomb. We need to be cognizant of human’s ability to turn even the best invention to evil when someone gets disgruntled.
Although this thread was closed for lack of clarity
And this thread explored the use of steam for propulsion in space
Of course solar panels on the moon could also be driven be mirrors in orbit around the moon
My question is specifically aimed at the the thermodynamics of boiling water on the moon in the absence of air. If the steam generator were put on the dark side, or in a cave anywhere, the temperature gradiant achievable would be awesome. And in the absence of air, the boiling point would be a lot lower (20degrees C?)