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Power Technology

How Engineers Are Building a Power Station At the South Pole 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the cold-work dept.
KentuckyFC writes "One of the more ambitious projects at the South Pole is the Askaryan Radio Array, a set of radio antennas under the ice that will listen for the tell tale signals of high energy neutrinos passing by. This array will eventually be over a thousand times bigger than the current largest neutrino detector: Icecube, which monitors a cubic kilometer of ice next door to the planned new observatory. But there's a problem. How do you supply 24/7 power to dozens of detectors spread over such a vast area in the middle of the Antarctic? The answer is renewable energy power stations that exploit the sun during the summer and the wind all year round. The first of these stations is now up and running at the South Pole and producing power. It is also helping to uncover and iron out the various problems that these stations are likely to encounter. For example; where to put the batteries needed to supply continuous power when all else fails. The team's current approach is to bury the battery to protect it from temperature extremes. That works well but makes maintenance so difficult that scaling this approach to dozens of power stations doesn't seem feasible. That's a problem for the future but for the moment, green power has finally come to the white continent."
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How Engineers Are Building a Power Station At the South Pole

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  • Re:The answer? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2014 @06:00PM (#46450133)

    Is obviously nuclear power.

    Actually, it has already been done. There was a nuclear power plant [usap.gov] at McMurdo Station Antarctica from 1962-1972. It was shut down as it proved to be not cost effective, at least with the then current technology. Perhaps today, the economics have changed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2014 @08:06PM (#46451035)

    When you're running neutrino detectors, having operating fission reactors is a major source of noise.
    Look at Japan, where the shutdown after Fukushima improved neutrino detection:
    http://www.nature.com/news/detectors-zero-in-on-earth-s-heat-1.12707

    "A window on the deep Earth opened unexpectedly in 2011, when Japan’s nuclear reactors were shut down after the Fukushima disaster. Before the closure, an underground particle detector called KamLAND based in Kamioka, Japan, was monitoring a torrent of neutrinos streaming from dozens of nearby nuclear reactors, seeking clues to the nature of these hard-to-catch subatomic particles. After those plants fell silent, KamLAND scientists could see more clearly a signal that had largely been obscured: a faint trickle of neutrinos produced inside the planet."

  • Re:The answer? (Score:5, Informative)

    by forand (530402) on Monday March 10, 2014 @10:02PM (#46451743) Homepage
    One cannot put a nuclear reactor on Antarctica at this point by international treaty: you can neither store nor dispose of waste there and taking it offsite costs too much. http://www.nsf.gov/geo/plr/ant... [nsf.gov]

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