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Thermal Insulation Chamber
Many useful resource extraction techniques require extremely high temperatures. Whether or not these can be employed is dependent upon how much energy is required to maintain operating temperatures. The factors that determine this include:
- The efficiency of a Heat Generator that can be run off of solar power.
- The rate of heat transfer of the material.
- The enclosed volume, and the surface area exposed to the outside world, along with what that surrounding material is.
Three factors go into selecting a material: abundance of material, capacity to withstand high temperatures, quality as an insulator.
Fire Bricks, made from Fire Clay (a good summary is here: ), are the best candidate, they can withstand the 1600 degree celsius temperature that some processes are likely to require and are primarily made from alumina and silica which are common, particularly on Mars.
Where should a thermal insulation chamber be placed in a habitat? Heat would escape less quickly when burried and surrounded by soil, as opposed to atmospheric gasses. However a chamber within buildings such as sleeping chambers could release heat into the habitat and reduce energy used for heating living spaces. That could also allow for distributed oxygen production (one of the processes that takes place within a thermal insulation chamber), however the increased net surface area of distributed systems would require more energy.