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Title: Fuel, Reactors, and wrecks


fossaman - October 10, 2005 09:32 PM (GMT)
I have a couple of questions/topics for discussion here, thanks to some things brought up in the 'Scuttling Wrecks' thread in the suggestions forum.

First of all, fuel.

The fuel in the game seems to be helium3 rods. Is it a gas, liquid, or solid? According to Wikipedia, it's an isotope of helium with two protons but only one neutron, sought after for use in fusion.

So, that would make the reactors in transcendence fusion reactors, right?

I'm assuming that pteracnium is another element that is useful for fusion, since one can use pteracnium fuel rods: But what is it exactly? Is it helium3 compacted into a solid form in some sort of substrate, or is it some other sort of fusion material?

When a reactor blows up, is it a catastrophic loss of containment of the reaction, allowing it to vaporize the ship before it dies?

Would dead reactors pose any threat at all? Is the fuel itself dangerous?

Would it be possible to make a dead reactor on a wreck blow up, destroying the wreck?

What do you think?

gannon - October 10, 2005 09:56 PM (GMT)
if it is fusion then a dead reactor is very safe. You can even have a leak in the helium3 rods (how did you do that :P) it is just helium so would not be a threat.
As for pteracnium I think he made that up. It can't be a element for fusion because all the lighter elements are named and the heaver ones are unsutible for fusion (you get less out than you put in)
Detroying a live reactor my blow it up (bepends on how built) but a dead one (assuming you can't just start it up which in the case of fusion is very hard) will do nothing major if damaged.

fossaman - October 10, 2005 11:22 PM (GMT)
Hey...maybe that's why running entirely out of fuel kills you. You don't have the equipment to restart your reactor.

Pteracnium doesn't have to be an element, it could be a molecule that is conducive to fusion instead.

gannon - October 11, 2005 12:21 AM (GMT)
hmm don't really see how a molecule could help fusion. At fusion temp no molecule can survive. Thats why is it so hard to contain and maintain a fusion reaction you need to contain the fuel with gravitational (such as stars) or magnetic force (such as a magnetic bottle). If the fuel falls below a certain heat and density it stops the reaction (thats why dead reactors are mostly harmless)

just to let you know I don't mind the pteracnium it is a game and having a better fuel is fun.

fossaman - October 11, 2005 01:05 AM (GMT)
You don't understand what I mean, here:

What if pteracnium is a molecule that breaks down into fusionable material, such as helium3? Would this be possible?

If it's missing a neutron, would it be able to bond to other atoms?

Oh, and to get the 3, you use a [*sup][/*sup] tag (without asterisks.). Stands for superscript. If you want the text to be below the line, like this, then you use the [*sub][/*sub] tag, for subscript.

gannon - October 11, 2005 02:17 AM (GMT)
if it can break down to helium3 then it contains helium3 because helium3 is an element. It is a noble gas so no it wouldn't be. (they don't do molecules)
Anyway even if it could there would still be a problem of other elements lowering the fuel density because a molecule is made up of many atoms so unless they are all the same element (those are already named) it would lower the fuel density and lower effecenty (by the none fuel atoms getting in the way by absorbing some of the energy)
Neutrons do not effect what kinds of chemical reactions an atom has (well it has a small effect on speed).

Narok - October 11, 2005 04:37 AM (GMT)


helium3 is tritium if I'm not mistaken. It's available all over the universe. It's carried naturally by solar winds and deposited on asteroids and bodies without atmospheres or high gravity, similar to deuterium. The idea that it costs anything in outer space is kind of silly, though it has to be created on Earth because it can't exist in and of itself, so it does cost something.

Scientists continue to discover new elements with weird properties. Maybe Pteracium is an element that moves through time or maybe it is matter so dense that it bends space. :)

gannon - October 11, 2005 05:33 AM (GMT)
thats handwaving and you know it (not really a fan of that kind of sci fi) :lol:
but as I said before I don't mind things for game purposes
also descovering new elements is very rare because we have all the stable elements known and you have to make the new elements (so you can't have lots and wouldn't work as a fuel)

fossaman - October 11, 2005 07:30 PM (GMT)
Pteracnium could be an isotope of some sort, I suppose.

Maybe it fisses before it fuses. That would provide extra power to the reactor. Isn't that sort of how H-bombs work?

Narok, it's possible much of the accesible He3 has already been extracted by the time transcendence takes place.

OddBob - October 12, 2005 02:02 AM (GMT)
From ingame stuff and XML:


"Pteracnium is one of the only transuranic elements that is stable under normal conditions. When bombarded with high-energy particles, pteracnium releases a cascade of anti-protons that can sustain a starship engine."

"Pteracnium is a stable transuranic compound of immense energy density. Refined and packaged as fuel rods this compound is ideal for gigawatt-class reactors."

You're assuming that all three drives are fusion drives. The 1GW is apparently an antimatter drive. A really cool one, since the pteracnium itself isn't actually antimatter, and thus not insanely dangerous to carry around.

fossaman - October 12, 2005 02:10 AM (GMT)
So, how is it that you can use standard He3 fuel rods and reactor assemblies in the gigawatt reactor? That doesn't make sense. Somebody call the factoid police! :P

Guest - October 12, 2005 08:48 PM (GMT)
Just as a note, deuterium and tritium are hydrogen2 and hydrogen3, not helium isotopes. However, heavy water (water in which one or both of the hydrogen atoms is deuterium or tritium) has been proposed as a potential fuel for fusion reactors, the main drawback being that while deuterium and tritium do occur naturally, they do so in extremely small quantities.

fossaman - October 12, 2005 09:06 PM (GMT)
Thanks for the clarification.

So, should we be able to use heavy water as reactor fuel, then? Or is the system stuck to rods and assemblies?

Sero - October 12, 2005 09:07 PM (GMT)
Fossaman, it depends on how the engine works, and that's likely to involve a lot of handwavium. (Note, I said engine, not reactor, so I'm not saying we don't know how a fusion reactor works, lol)

Referring to Pternacium and H3 in the same reactor.

fossaman - October 12, 2005 09:11 PM (GMT)
Oh, you mean what the output method is?

That's a good question. If we look at the propulsion upgrades, they all seem to be things that add to the fusion reaction.

So, there are probably two or three options...

1: An exhaust system that provides the thrust.

2: Ion thrusters (maybe? I'm not sure how these work, exactly)

3: Something we haven't discovered yet?

Does thrusting take additional fuel? I've tried to notice, but I've never been able to tell, precisely. And, I'm too lazy to dig it up in the XML or TDB.

gannon - October 12, 2005 09:17 PM (GMT)
thrust in the game is a known game thing because real thrust would be far too slow for game purposes.
Ion thrusters work on effecetcy of fuel to get a huge top speed. There acceleration is very slow. real ion engine
As you can see this one will take 20 months to get to 10,000 mph.

Sero - October 12, 2005 09:24 PM (GMT)
Well, you see, the problem is that virtually all engines require large ammounts of reaction mass. Pretty much the only kinds that don't (aside from ones with a fixed course, which are really more powered orbit than anything else) are essentially solar sails, which have very low thrust.

CRCGamer - October 12, 2005 09:25 PM (GMT)
Haha... if you want fast in RL you want what I THINK is called an Orion... Nuclear Pulse engines. Set a nuke off at your tail-pipe and ride the shockwave. Fast, if dirty. And quite doable by today's standards. Just that there is protest against using it.

Hate to think what something like this would look like in game.

gannon - October 12, 2005 09:29 PM (GMT)
well the trust in transendence would in real life kill you and most likely destroy the ship.
Ion drives don't need large amounts of fuel (they do need some) but they don't acellerate very fast (or barly at all)

gannon - October 12, 2005 09:32 PM (GMT)
as for nuclear pulse engines I don't see that as a good way of doing large amounts space travel due to high matainance

Sero - October 12, 2005 09:35 PM (GMT)
No, it's just a Nuclear Pulse Propulsion Engine. In the 50's Project Orion was to study it. Gannon, it isn't really high maintenence, basically just a giant metal plate to catch the shockwave. The shock absorbers might be high maintence, I guess...

Anyways, I don't think it's all that feasible simply because you're likely to use up most sources of fissionable materials fairly quick, judging by the number of ships in transcedence, and besides, the Commonwealth restricts the use of nuclear weapons.

fossaman - October 13, 2005 01:45 AM (GMT)
Yeah, it's kind of pointless to say that the people can't have their own nuclear missiles when they can strap the nukes they use to fly to the end of a KM100. :P

Sero, think for a minute: Nuclear weapons exploding in an enclosed space. Don't you think this would cause a bit of wear and tear? <_<


So, do ships in transcendence have artificial gravity fields to dampen the thrust? Would they need it?

OddBob - October 13, 2005 02:21 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (fossaman)
Sero, think for a minute: Nuclear weapons exploding in an enclosed space. Don't you think this would cause a bit of wear and tear?


Not enclosed, It's just got a big honkin' metal plate on one side. Probably not a lot more extensive maintenence than 'normal' engines (which, even in the future, will require quite a bit.)

Orion is pretty good for warships, not only it is real efficient in making you go from stopped to fast in a short amount of time, if you don't mind blowing up some real estate, you can do it right off the ground, anywhere you want. Plus, it tends to discourage people from following too close ;)

I've always wanted to make one ingame with micronukes. I gave momentum to the shockwave, but there's no way currently to make a missle blow up at the end of it's lifetime and the shockwave also doesn't affect the player ship. I got some cargo containers up to 20% lightspeed though.


EDITED to add a missing word

fossaman - October 13, 2005 02:28 AM (GMT)
So what you need is a ship programmed to follow around behind you and fire nukes at your rear end, right? :D

the wanderer - October 14, 2005 02:06 AM (GMT)
one way to answer the helium/ pteracnium fuel problem in the gigawatt reactior is having a duel mode reactor. e.g one that uses a fission or matter/antimatter reaction to provide the initial power to the fusion reactor that uses the helium fuel as the power needed to ionise the helium and ignight it to turn it into a plasma to provide the heat needed for the fusion reaction to take place not to mention provide the power to contain the plasma stream in a torus shaped magnetic field would be extreamly high. but once the reaction has started the initial power supply is nolonger needed as the fusion reactor provides enough excess power to sustain it's own reaction as well as provide power to the ships systems.
by haveing a duel reactor it means that if the ship's supply of helium 3 runs out then it can use another source of fuel for power i.e pteracnium in the secondary reaction system thus providing power for the ship. the possible reasion why the helium fuel is still used in the reactor could be the fact that helium is cheaper and more plentiful than pteracnium so would provide a more sutible sourse of primary energy. or maybe it could be the helium is more stable than the pteracnium.

another (more likely) possibility could be that pteracnium is a common name for a mix of hydrogen, helium and lithium (all used in fusion reactions) which provide a greater energy/mass ratio than pure helium in the same way that gunpoweder and early solid rocket propellents (like those used in fireworks) provide more power than charcoal, sulphur or potassium nitrate on their own. mixed correctly they can either provide a powerful short burst of energy (gunpowder) or when mixed in another ratio they provide a steady powerful release of energy (solid rocket proppelent)

what is pteracnium? well it's not any of the elements on the periodic table (includeing manmade elements) so it could be a common name for a type of antimater fuel, a new alien element or even a new isotope of an exsisting element that is hightly unstable. *shrugs*

as for propulsion. the only possible propulsion I could think of is a plasma ramjet. basically a recket that works by sending an ionised beam of gass down a magnetic accelerator and ignight it as it leaves the engine to provide extra thrust in the as teh super heated gas exits the exsaust. in theory such a drive would be possible of pushing a spacecraft to nearlight speeds (and possibly beyond) but suffers from the fact that the heats produced would melt any knowen substance in less than 0.3 secconds unless a sutibly heat proof material or cooling system was installed.

P.S. sorry this is a bit of a ramble. *looks back at post* what can I say i'm a geek :lol: ah well that's my $0.02

Sero - October 14, 2005 02:29 AM (GMT)
Wanderer, did you read the last few posts? We know what pternacium is.

Also, I find myself doubting you really understand the workings of a plasma rocket, no offense, but the melting problem was never a problem. Magnetic field to channel the plasma. Also, BEYOND lightspeed? That's physics HERESY. Burn the heretic! :P

fossaman - October 14, 2005 02:30 AM (GMT)
Welcome, oh fellow geek. :D

There's an item in the game called 'pteracnium ore' which is presumable refined into the fuel rods, and I don't think that hydrogen, helium and lithium usually occur in a rock substrate, let alone all three in the same one.

Would a plasma ramjet need fuel, or would there be a ramscoop on the front to take in interstellar hydrogen?

Would there be a more efficient method than a ram scoop? Like a weak gravity field projected in front of the ship to pull in matter...this would allow less of a vulnerable spot on your ship; it seems like shooting your opponent's engine system could cause all sorts of havoc.

The idea of having a dual reactor doesn't quite make sense to me...it seems unnecessarily overcomplicated. If the other fusion reactors don't need an auxilliary power source, why would this one?

Sero - October 14, 2005 02:37 AM (GMT)
Well, the ramjet part of plasma ramjet implies a ramscoop, though, for non-interstellar vessels it'd seem a bit silly, just scoop up hydrogen from a gas giant, so I don't think there'd be need for a ramscoop.

A dual-design is a bit overcomplicated, I have my own theory. Take a tank full of liquid hydrogen. Inject a little antimatter. The resulting energy will make a lot of charged particles and plasma. Use to power ship and provide thrusting plasma for plasma rocket. Not sure how to do it with a fusion reactor, but I bet it could be done.

-=S=- - October 18, 2005 12:16 PM (GMT)
QUOTE
(Sero)
Not sure how to do it with a fusion reactor, but I bet it could be done.

i think it would be the same (scoop) but you would need uranium as well

Sero - October 18, 2005 06:45 PM (GMT)
What does uranium have to do with a fusion reactor? Uranium is a fissionable, not a fusion material. Can you pick up uranium in a ramscoop?

Burzmali - October 18, 2005 08:38 PM (GMT)
Well, fission is the most reliable way to start a fusion reaction.

gannon - October 18, 2005 09:54 PM (GMT)
I wouldn't call it reliable. Plus starting the reaction isn't hard it is sustaining it.

Burzmali - October 18, 2005 11:42 PM (GMT)
Typically, if you are using the fusion reaction to generate energy, the reaction itself provides the energy to sustain itself. Fission just gets the ball rolling.

gannon - October 18, 2005 11:46 PM (GMT)
its not just the energy that is needed it is the pressure that is the big problem on sustaining them. Getting the ball rolling isn't the hard thing. We have been doing that for years.

Jaha123 - October 22, 2005 11:32 PM (GMT)
The Atonement-class gunship looks like it uses the Orion engine. The thing on the back could be the catcher plate.Another engine option could be the Daedalus engine. It uses Helium-3/deutrium,and it goes at 10% of lightspeed.

Sero - October 23, 2005 06:51 AM (GMT)
Jaha, any engine can get you up to lightspped, if it has enough fuel. However, if you had checked your facts...

The Daedalus design you are talking about takes 3.8 years to get up to 12% of lightspeed.

Also, considering it takes 50,000 tons of fuel to do so...that's a lot of fuel rods.

Jaha123 - October 23, 2005 10:39 PM (GMT)
50000 tons of fuel? wow.
The sapiens should still use the orion engine because they have so much nuclear waste, you would think that they would have a few nukes.
By the time transcendense takes place, every kind of propulsion we have now would be ancient.

Sero - October 24, 2005 01:28 AM (GMT)
Well, not really. Oh, I mean, somethings will be, like chemical propulsion...

But we have a lot of kinds of propulsion that we just don't or can't use. Many of them are fairly advanced.

fossaman - October 24, 2005 08:55 PM (GMT)
If you think about it, some things would still use chemical propulsion. Like missiles; what's the point of putting a reactor on something that's just gonna explode?

El_FluffyDragon - October 24, 2005 09:16 PM (GMT)
QUOTE
If you think about it, some things would still use chemical propulsion. Like missiles; what's the point of putting a reactor on something that's just gonna explode?


Well, tracking missiles, anyway. Non-tracking missiles could simply use the reactor onboard the ship to provide a little kinetic force to carry it to it's target.





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