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Topic: Molecular structures.. in space!  (Read 3144 times)

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Offline Rorschach

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Molecular structures.. in space!
« on: June 17, 2015, 04:05:38 PM »
Hello there!

I'm working on a (card) game in which you mine asteroids and I’m looking at ways to create interesting –molecular- structures with the different compounds (like Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, etc.) that you mine.  Found some inspirational stuff on this website:

But I could really use a good primer about molecular structures or functional groups ‘cause I’m real rusty concerning the topic.

If anyone knows a good book or website I’d love to know about it. =)

Offline Dan

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Re: Molecular structures.. in space!
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2015, 07:34:09 AM »
It's not quite clear what you are looking for. Do you want a list of all the "interesting" compounds formed by all the elements of the periodic table? That's a very broad question.

A good encyclopedic text for this sort of thing is: Chemistry of the Elements - Greenwood & Earnshaw

You can pick up second hand copies of older editions quite cheaply. It might be too advanced for your purposes though.
My research: Google Scholar and Researchgate

Offline Rorschach

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Re: Molecular structures.. in space!
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2015, 04:26:59 PM »
You're right, I'm not quite sure yet which direction I want to take so I'm thinking -too- broad.

My starting point is something like mining for C(arbon) & H(ydrogen) en combining these into CH4 for fuel.. but perhaps if you mined more you could go for C2H6/C3H8/etc. for more fuel in one go.
Or combine P & O into PO4 so you'd have phosphate for agricultural (aka colonizing) purposes.
(Again, I know this isn't exactly scientifically accurate, but from a game perspective it might be fun.)

I'll take a look at the book you mentioned, sounds like a good starting point at any rate.
Cheers! =)

Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Molecular structures.. in space!
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2015, 09:00:10 PM »
The atomic composition of asteroids is still uncertain presently - until we send a few robots to land there, drill and analyze, or shoot lasers or bullets at the surface

Generally speaking, asteroids are supposed to be essentially rocks, with no hydrogen, no carbon, no nitrogen, no phosphorus - but metals and silicates yes. The presence of precious metals is very hypothetical, and stones and metals are not very attractive to make fuels.

Earth isn't very different by the way; it's just that the tiny C, N, H, P... amount is concentrated at the surface, available to life.

Though :
  • A few of the outermost asteroids seem to contain much ice. They're considered comets instead (or will this distinction disappear when we better understand the history of the small bodies?)
  • With this water, you can make oxygen and hydrogen for a rocket.
  • Or you rocket can bring the hydrogen and produce locally the oxygen from stones (=silicates). Inconvenient but in principle feasible. Easier on Mars from atmospheric CO2.
  • I checked a rocket that burns locally produced metals like Al and Li with local oxygen, and it's not efficient. Bringing hydrogen looks better.
  • From a comet, an icy moon, a planetary ring, an icy asteroid - something with water - you can produce hydrogen to feed my sunheat engine
  • Or you can feed my sunheat engine with water directly. Better for some missions
    like bringing 400t water to Martian orbit from an asteroid with a single medium rocket launch (or 10,000t from one SLS launch).

Prospective plans at Nasa call it "in-situ propellant" (ISP, but not the Isp for specific impulse). While this would enable chemical propulsion for more ambitious missions, it's not very easy, and relies on unknown asteroid compositions - and the competition are Nasa's Vasimr engine and my sunheat engine, whose efficiency don't need in-situ propellants,

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