Clean energy captured from space and transmitted to earth via wireless

A new system could change energy supplies forever

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Clean energy captured from space and transmitted to earth via wireless
© NASA / Handout Getty Images

A new way to produce clean energy without consuming resources could change our planet's energy supply forever. The Space Solar Power Demonstrator experimental system, a wireless power transfer unit from space to Earth sent an energy beam to our planet, transmitting energy captured by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The reception of the beam, currently still of a few milliwatts of power, demonstrated that the transmission of energy from space is possible and could be the first step towards the creation of a space solar power plant within ten years.

Greater exposure to the Sun is directly proportional to the difficulty of designing and building structures large enough to perform but light enough to be launched with a rocket into Earth orbit.

The Caltech team, led by electrical engineering professor Ali Hajimiri, explained: “This network of transmitters uses precise timing control elements to dynamically focus power selectively to the desired location using the coherent addition of electromagnetic waves.

This allows transmit most of the energy to the desired place and nowhere else. We hope that wireless energy transfer will democratize access to energy, the same way the Internet has democratized access to information. To receive it, no infrastructure will be needed and this means we will be able to send it even to remote regions and areas devastated by war or natural disasters."

Space
Space© Handout / Handout Getty Images Sport
 

Energy from Space to Earth, thanks to a wirless project

"Wireless power transfer was demonstrated on March 3 by MAPLE, one of three key technologies being tested by the Space Solar Power Demonstrator (SSPD-1), the first space-borne prototype from Caltech's Space Solar Power Project (SSPP). SSPP aims to harvest solar power in space and transmit it to the Earth's surface.

MAPLE, short for Microwave Array for Power-transfer Low-orbit Experiment and one of the three key experiments within SSPD-1, consists of an array of flexible lightweight microwave power transmitters driven by custom electronic chips that were built using low-cost silicon technologies.

It uses the array of transmitters to beam the energy to desired locations.For SSPP to be feasible, energy transmission arrays will need to be lightweight to minimize the amount of fuel needed to send them to space, flexible so they can fold up into a package that can be transported in a rocket, and a low-cost technology overall.

MAPLE was developed by a Caltech team led by Ali Hajimiri, Bren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering and co-director of SSPP," we can read on the Caltech website, about the project.