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Issue 17
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Student Production Team
Harold Bon, Solomon Brown, Michael Cisneros,
Kent Engel, Tyler Goldberg, Matt Kissel, Alexa Krivoniak,
Brandon Lutz, Zach Reese, Amanda Roberts, Colin Stonerook, Zoe Zeszut and Anthony Zoccola

Faculty Mentors
Don Flournoy and Kyle Perkins

Ohio University, Athens Ohio


The goal of this Science/Engineering visualization is to show how gigawatt quantities of renewable energy can be generated at former nuclear processing sites as they are repurposed into industrial scale electrical power generation stations. The breakthrough product of this research is the design of an integrated terrestrial solar/space energy receiving station that will produce “baseload” electricity 24 hours a day.

This research focuses attention on a Cold War-era uranium enrichment facility located on 3,700 acres of land in a rural area of SE Ohio. This site is judged to be suitable for research leading to the first-ever combination ground-based and space-based solar energy production facility. Were this research to be successful in designing, constructing and testing a space solar power receiving antenna (rectenna) mated to the operational structures of a terrestrial photovoltaic farm, this facility (and others like it) could be transformed from an environmental hazard to a societal benefit.

In the case of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS), it is projected that the site has the capability to produce as much renewable energy as it once consumed in the form of coal-produced electricity, when two plants were installed on the Ohio River to sustain its operation.

To read the White Paper on which the following creative visualization, Technical Brief and Business Plan are based, click on From Uranium Enrichment to Renewable Energy: Conversion of the US-DOE’s Former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS) in Piketon, Ohio, into a Clean Energy Production Facility Within a Decade.



The proposal on which this visualization is based suggests a systematic schedule of investigation, innovation, design, and testing that brings together two complementary fields of study that have never been combined before. What is distinctive about this project is that a space solar power rectenna – a rectifying antenna - will be integrated into the operational structure of a terrestrial photovoltaic platform for the first time.

If this research proves successful, the novel combination of two here-to-fore separate renewable energy sources will be a breakthrough opportunity for conventional solar, in that power can be generated even after the sun sets. And it will address at the same time one of the troublesome questions about where and how to safely and economically capture future energy beams from space on the ground.


In cooperation with the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS) in Piketon, Ohio, managed by the U.S. Department of Energy, Ohio University has proposed a three-year project divided into the following phases:

Phase I will consist of design work carried out by established experts across disciplines. Collecting photovoltaic and electromagnetic energy - and converting it into commercially usable electricity in the same space - has never before been done. Our team will define a plausibly workable approach to such a system and optimize it through simulation and modeling, including both technical performance and economic viability. Using the Piketon site, the scale of potential future energy production operations will be studied, including optimal acreage, environmental concerns, connections into the existing electrical switches and transmission lines, and local/regional opportunities for creating new businesses and high-paying jobs using this new approach to energy production.

Phase II will see the reduction to practice of modular components comprising the dual-receiver solar farm concept through the creation of engineering drawings and bills of materials based on one acre of flat land at the PORTS site. Prototype-scale components will be solicited for tender, with requests to project costs to full-scale operation. While subsystems are being fabricated by vendors, the PORTS team will develop testing protocols and secure appropriate permissions from the FCC, FAA, EPA, DOE and regional regulatory agencies. Detailed financial models will be built based on component costs. From these, the team will compute energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) so that the refined concept for an integrated ground solar/space solar farm can be compared on an equal footing with competing methods of power generation.

Phase III will involve the deployment and testing of a sub-scale “dual solar” farm on-site at the PORTS Plant. The International Space Station, an airship or aerostat (a tethered balloon) will be used as a proxy for a solar power satellite in a proof-of-concept test of the integrated terrestrial photovoltaic and space solar receiving antenna. Performance data gathered will be used to validate and refine both the engineering drawings and financial models.  The end result will be a package of materials ready for consideration/ implementation by a public-private partnership, the nature of which will have been refined over the duration of the project.


During the Cold War, huge amounts of coal energy were consumed to produce enriched uranium for nuclear power plants and for atomic bombs.

The “layered solar farm” concept aims to repurpose contaminated sites for a unique merging of two complementary forms of renewable energy. Terrestrial solar follows the local sun, and power production peaks just before demand peaks, especially on late summer afternoons.  Ground solar cannot provide energy during the important evening hours, but space solar power can.  Power beamed from space is a steady-state amount, making it suitable as a baseload source.  By appropriate sizing of the dual solar farm, its electrical output can be matched to demand, eliminating, or at least greatly reducing, concerns about intermittency when using ground-based photovoltaics. Large-scale ground solar/space solar farms can replace conventional power plants in locations where the transmission and distribution infrastructure is already in place. Such retrofitting applications may be appropriately applied and be transformational in their impact in numerous critical sites at home and abroad.

In the long run, Space Solar Power could represent the form of renewable energy that makes all economic activity sustainable and clean. While the concept is 50 years old, the realization of its promise has not even started. A financial bridge is needed to ameliorate the technical and fiscal risk of this proposal.


1. Anthony, S. “Beam me down, Scotty: Space-based solar power finally comes of age,” February 28, 2013,

2. Chapman, M. “GRID Lab Uses Animation to Translate ‘The Realm of the Possible’ in Solar Energy Capture,” Ohio University Compass, Feb.8, 2011.

3. Chaudhary K. and B. Vishvakarma, “Feasibility study of LEO, GEO and Molniya orbit based satellite solar power station for some identified sites in India,” Advances in Space Research, vol. 46, no. 9, 2010.

4. Dessanti, B. The Space Power Grid Approach to Space-based Solar Power: Special Problems Report, Experimental Aerodynamics and Concepts Group, Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta GA, December 2012.

5. “DOE Seeks Deactivation Contractor for Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant,” Office of Environmental Management, Energy.Gov, August 9, 2013.


6. “DOE Awards Task Order for Disposal of Los Alamos National Laboratory Waste,” Office of Environmental Management, U.S., July 11, 2013.

7. Drumeller, W.F. “Railroad to an ‘A’ Plant,” C&O Magazine, March 2009, p.11.

8. Flournoy, D. “Comsats and Sunsats: A Marriage Made in Heaven,” a presentation given at Space Canada, the International Academy of Astronautics, IAA Study Group 3.11: Solar Energy From Space, Toronto, Canada, September 2009.

9. Flournoy, D. “Solar Power Satellites: The Next Big Thing for the Satellite Industry” ORBITER, a publication of the Society of Satellite Professionals International, December 2009.

10. Flournoy, D. (2012). Solar Power Satellites, New York: Springer Science + Business Media, pp. 67–78.

11. Flournoy, D., Shmuel Roth, and Mohammad Ala Uddin (2014). A White Paper: From Uranium Enrichment to Renewable Energy: Conversion of the Us-DOE’s Former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (Ports) in Piketon, Ohio into a Clean Energy Production Facility Within a Decade, pp.17.

12. Frass, L. M. (May 23, 2013). “Sunbeams from Space Mirrors Feeding Solar Farms on the Ground at Dusk and Dawn.” The Online Journal of Space Communication, Issue No.17: Visualizing Space Polar Power. Spring 2013.

13. Glaser, P., “Method and Apparatus for Converting Solar Radiation to Electrical Power,” (US Patent No. 3,781,647; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Washington, D.C.). December 25, 1973.

14. International Space Station, NASA Science, and Transportation, May 5, 2004. ramamoorthy.pdf

15. Gopalaswami, R. “Kalam-National Space Society Energy Technology Universal Initiative: An international preliminary feasibility study on space based solar power stations,” Space Journal correspondence. October 2010.

16. Greenfield, G., President, Third Sun Solar, Athens, Ohio 45701, an interview, December 8, 2013.

17. “Handbook on the Portsmouth Area,” Atomic Energy Commission, Portsmouth Ohio, July 1956, pp.24.

18. Komerath, N. et al., “A US-India Power Exchange Towards a Space Power Grid,” A Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Aerospace Engineering, presentation made at the International Space Development Conference, Huntsville, AL May 2011.

19. Komerath, N. and P. Komerath, “Implications of Intersatellite Power Beaming Using a Space Power Grid,” in IEEE Aerospace Conference, no. Paper P1696, Big Sky, MT, March 2011.

20. Mankins, J.C. et al. (2011). Space solar Power: the First International Assessment of Space Solar Power – Opportunities, Issues and Potential Pathways Forward. Paris: International Academy of Astronautics.

21. Mankins, J.C., “SPS-ALPHA: The First Practical Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large Phased Array,” (A 2011-2012 NASA NIAC Phase 1 Project), Final Report, September 15, 2012.

22. Morrone, M. et al. PORTSfuture Public Outreach Report. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and Department of Social and Public Health of Ohio University, February 2012, pp. 501.

23. Mori, M., H. Kagawa, and Y. Saito, “Summary of studies on space solar power systems of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa),” Acta Astronautica, vol. 59, no. 1, 2006.

24. Musk, E., "Space Shuttle and the Future of Space Launch Vehicles," Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, May 5, 2004,

25. Potter, S. “Space Solar Power Satellite Alternatives and Architectures: Analysis, Modeling, Simulation and Experimentation,” The Boeing Company. AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Orlando FL, Jan. 5-8, 2009.

26. “Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant,” U.S. Department of Energy, August 15, 2013.

27. Strickland, J.K., a Director of the National Space Society and the Space Power Association, personal correspondence, November 6, 2013. Also see, Strickland, J.K., “Base Load Power from Earth and Space,” a presentation to the International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space, IAA “SPS Workshoip, Toronto, Canada, September 2009.

28. Zeller, David. “Apple’s Server Farm Hints at Cloud-based Ambitions,” Money Morning, December 8, 2013,


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