The Ginnungagap Engine

The Ginnungagap Engine (GgE) is a whole systems architecture for the maintenance of life sustaining climatic and biogeochemical patterns within a confined space. Its purpose is to provide a sufficiently complex thermodynamic and biogeochemical climate within which high-level ecological ascendency can emerge and continue to evolve in perpetuity.


Boiling River Hot spring Yellowstone national park, The place of inspiration for the Ginnungagap engine (Oct 2012)

“Ginnungagap, the Yawning Void … which faced toward the northern quarter (Niflheim), became filled with heaviness, and masses of ice and rime, and from within, drizzling rain and gusts; but the southern part of the Yawning Void was lighted by those sparks and glowing masses which flew out of Múspellheim” – The Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson, translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur, 1916, p. 17.

Systems Synthesis

Within the GgE framework, Passive Energy management and Automation systems act in concert to provide for the perpetual emergence of hydrologic, thermodynamic, and novel material exchange conditions. The GgE framework is intended to provide a suitable climate for the propagation of a closed socio-ecological life support system (CsELSS) within a variety of contexts both open and closed (E.g., Planetary and orbital Space settlement, arcologies, and life shield bunkers)

Energy Management Sub Systems

GgE energy management systems provide both Exothermic and Endothermic influences within the system. Areas under the influence of endothermic processes will tend to gather moisture and those that are exothermic will tend to expel moisture. If these influences are placed within a closed system, along a gravitational well, with exothermic systems being placed below endothermic systems an atmospheric convection and hydrologic cycling systems can be expected to emerge.

GgE Diagram

For example: Imagine an illuminated Martian magma tube, several Km long and about 100m in diameter. This tube is angled ~15 Degrees along its vertical axis. Placed at the bottom end of the tube is a metal sphere that will perpetually remain 100 Degrees C (Exothermic device), at the top end of the tube is another metal sphere that will perpetually remain 0 Degrees C (Endothermic device). The tube is assumed to remain between .9 and 1.1 ATM, contain a fluid material content approximately that of earth and be filled ~20% with water. Over time one could expect ice to grow on and around the endothermic device and extend until it began to melt. The melting and formation of ice would meet equilibrium, and a reliable steady run off of fresh water would eventually emerge.

This water might be captured in a series of pools as it runs down the tube, eventually returning to a resevour, perpetually heated by the exothermic device which if arranged in a particular way could form several pools maintained at a variety of temperatures. Water vapor from this section would travel up words through the tube where it would precipitate and flow back down the tube or be trapped in ice.

Within such a structure a temperature gradient will form along the tube, from end to end. Depending upon the morphology of the tubes internal structure, areas with temperature favorable to life, running water and novel climatic systems can be caused to reliably emerge.

Automation Sub Systems

Energetic potentials across the aforementioned thermal gradient and hydrologic cycling systems can be utilized by automation devices to provide various auxiliary and maintenance services.

For Example:

Consider the tube discussed previously, now in addition to the single tube lets add a smaller utility tube only 10m in diameter running outside the primary tube circumventing all its complex structures.  One end of this utility tube descends from the ceiling of the primary tube and enters the water that sits in the bottom end of the primary tube, with the other exiting near the top end of the primary tube facing the ice formation around the endothermic device. As water is evaporated from the pool surrounding the exothermic device, the water level may drop as water collects in pools and in ice at the top end of the primary tube. If this water level at the bottom of the primary tube where to drop below the end of the utility tube, a portion of steam and warm air flow would then be redirected through the tube and be projected at the ice formation causing the temperature to become elevated at the top of the primary tube. This system state would increase ice melt and water flow which would eventually fill the pool at the bottom of the primary tube covering the utility tube and causing the system state to return to its base condition. This is an example of a basic hydro-thermal logic system, which can be used to create pressure and temperature gradients, with in the system that can be used for power production and to accomplish various types of material transfer or other utility functions.

More complex heat transfer systems can be arranged with the assistance of Closed passive absorption heat transfer systems, constructed of a materially closed network of basins, tanks, and pipes which when properly arranged, transport liquid and gaseous ammonia and H2 gas so as to allow for energy transfer via external heat exchangers. Such systems can be integrated throughout the structure of a GgE powering exothermic and endothermic devices wherever one desires.


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