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There is potential energy between something like a vacuum in a container and a gas on the outside of it, or vice-versa. Could this energy be harvested in a vacuum, or close to vacuum situation like on mars, if you had access to a gas?

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    $\begingroup$ This is how internal combustion engines work. They just use combustion to produce high pressure on one side of the piston. $\endgroup$ – The Photon Feb 17 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ Could this be utilized with a vacuum and low pressure gas though $\endgroup$ – That_one_guy Feb 17 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Could do, but it might not be practical since you'd lose your working fluid (release it into the vacuum) that you might have spent a lot of energy to transport to Mars. $\endgroup$ – The Photon Feb 17 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ Why transport it, I would assume there are gases, or chemicals that could easily be degraded into gasses somewhere on mars $\endgroup$ – That_one_guy Feb 17 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ Pressure differential can be used, all right, and it can be used up. Without an inexhaustible source of pressure differential, your power production is temporary. $\endgroup$ – Whit3rd Feb 17 at 20:59
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Yes, many common types of engines, like internal combustion engines and gas turbines, and wind turbines, use a pressure difference to deliver power. There's no reason they wouldn't work just as well (or better) with a low (vacuum) exhaust pressure.

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No. In an ambient of 14.7 psi, it requires work to produce a vacuum, and an engine that runs on vacuum would produce no net work.

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    $\begingroup$ It doesn't take much work to produce a vacuum if you're on a spaceship. Just open a door. $\endgroup$ – The Photon Feb 17 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ But could you produce gas on mars to a pressure higher than ambience then use the difference to generate electricity $\endgroup$ – That_one_guy Feb 17 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ yes you could. Car engines on earth do this already. $\endgroup$ – niels nielsen Feb 17 at 20:45
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Easy way would be to drive a turbine, but it would consume the gas. would be easier to transport the energy in a battery rather than a heavy gas cylinder. The gas escaping may be able provide extra energy by being burnt , but may need oxygen also.

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