LaserMotive's power beaming system prepares ground for space elevator's lift-off
Laser-powered space elevator, a dream that may come true soon.Read more: REUTERS
Laser-powered space elevator, a dream that may come true soon.

The Seattle-based company has been already planning to take its beaming systems into space, where no lasers have ventured.

The system has the potential to provide a virtually endless supply of power to a variety of applications, including the highly anticipated space elevator that can be practically comparable to a train ride to space.

LaserMotive's emerging technology - Laser Power Beaming - involves the wireless transfer of energy over distances using laser light, using specialized photovoltaic cells to convert laser light into electricity.

In 2009, LaserMotive won $900,000 in a NASA-sponsored Space Elevator Games contest to build systems to beam energy from the ground to a robotic device that climbs a vertical cable.

According to LaserMotive, the system starts with a laser running from a power supply, with the laser light shaped by a set of optics to define the beam size at its destination. This light then propagates through air or the vacuum of space until it reaches the photovoltaic (PV) receiver. This array of PV cells then converts the light back into electricity.

Laser Power Beaming only requires physical installations at the transmitting and receiving points, and nothing in between. The receiver can be moved to a different location, closer or further away, without changing the cost of the system. And power can be available as soon as the elements are placed and turned on, instead of having to wait for wires to be buried or hung from poles.

We’ve had a very busy past few weeks (including a trip to Washington DC). In D.C., we had meetings with a variety of organizations (both in the private and public sectors) about our technology and its uses, says co-founder Tom Nugent in a latest blog post. We can’t name names at this point, but there is potential there for contracts utilizing our technology in a range of markets.

All in all, we’ve taken significant steps and made significant contacts in this direction in the past weeks that we believe will come to fruition in upcoming weeks and months, Nugent says.

Nugent says the company continues work on its entry for the next NASA Power Beaming Competition to be held later this year. Although the dates are still tentative, we expect that this should take place in the second or third quarter of this year, he says. This year’s competition features a purse prize of $1.1 million.