Quark Reactors

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
phavoc
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Quark Reactors

Postby phavoc » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:58 am

Researchers at the LHC in Europe have published a new paper about fusing quarks instead of hydrogen to generate power. According the brief article, quark fusion is about 10x that of standard hydrogen fusion. Maybe a nice alternative power plant for higher tech ships. Since they did it at the LHC, could be that it would have to be of a size that it's only able to be mounted in larger ships, or stations, that have huge energy needs. That way smaller ships (i.e. player controlled ones) wouldn't be able to live in a Monty Haul universe and not have to make choices about power for weapons, the drives or jumping.

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/quark-fusion ... 00373.html
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:58 am

I doubt it will be canon.
Linwood
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby Linwood » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:41 am

Could be a nifty bit of alien or Ancient tech for the players to find. Or a mad science prototype with unfortunate side effects....
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby AnotherDilbert » Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:18 pm

Seems impractical:
But subsequent calculations showed that it would be impossible to cause a chain reaction with quarks because they exist for too short a period of time—approximately one picosecond—not long enough to set off another baryon.
Each quark has to be manufactured, then collided very carefully in pairs to potentially fuse them. If a sizeable fraction of the quarks fail to fuse, it will not release net energy.

The heat released by the fusion has to turned into electrical energy (with great losses), that is then used to produce more quarks (with great losses), hoping that some surplus energy remains.

A quark reactor will probably be bigger and more complex than a fusion reactor, and produce more waste heat. Neither is desirable in a ship's power plant.
Reynard
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby Reynard » Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:30 pm

How easy is it to harvest quarks compared to antimatter or hydrogen? Hydrogen has THE big advantage of being in great abundance for very little energy to collect.
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby AnotherDilbert » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:04 pm

For best performance you need bottom quarks, which you will not find in nature.

You have to make the quarks, e.g. in an accelerator, and then use it before it breaks down or combines into a baryon in about 0.000 000 000 001 s.
phavoc
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby phavoc » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:20 pm

We are talking about a game that postulates jump space, anti-gravity, anagathics, tiny fusion reactors, collapsed matter materials and reaction rockets powerful enough to impart multiple-G acceleration to multi-million ton ships. Oh, and aliens who can blow up planets (and stars!), create pocket universes, and uplift lifeforms. It's not like all the other stuff in the game doesn't have it's own set of issues.

With that being said, it's not outside the realm of possibility in a gaming universe. :D
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Thu Nov 09, 2017 6:02 pm

I would suspect that fine gravity control (TL12+) might be able to overcome some of the losses.

Using a gravity field to compress the quarks will increase the percentage that fuse. If meson particle decay can be calculated with enough accuracy to be used as a weapon, quark decay may be similarly calculated and minipulated making this type of fusion possible.

I do like the idea of making them VERY big (at least at current TLs) such that it doesn't affect current ship design. Maybe this is TL16 stuff? at least for prototypes, with TL17 being intro-level technology.

Since that is also the tech level of Anti-Matter reactors - you have two competing technologies. Not sure which would win out in the end, but the Ancients liked to explore alternate technologies, so maybe there is an old one hiding somewhere.
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Condottiere
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby Condottiere » Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:07 pm

Image
Sigtrygg
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby Sigtrygg » Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:31 pm

And where do you get the free quarks from to fuse in the first place?

Unmaking protons and neutrons to free up quarks just so you can fuse the quarks...
phavoc
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby phavoc » Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:47 pm

Sigtrygg wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:31 pm
And where do you get the free quarks from to fuse in the first place?

Unmaking protons and neutrons to free up quarks just so you can fuse the quarks...
Isn't Quarks on the Promenade? And where you find a Quark you usually find a Nog or a Rom.
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby Condottiere » Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:59 pm

Used to power the latinum jump grid.
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby AnotherDilbert » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:14 pm

Sigtrygg wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:31 pm
And where do you get the free quarks from to fuse in the first place?

Unmaking protons and neutrons to free up quarks just so you can fuse the quarks...
Bottom quarks, as used in the theory, are heavier than protons, so cannot be contained in the protons.

You have to make them by concentrating energy, e.g. by colliding things.
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:23 pm

You mean like a MicroFusion reactor? It could be contained within the tonnage of the Quark Plant. Sort of like a high-tech Breeder Reactor.

Standard fusion produces Quarks - you catch those with your gravity field and compress them into a Quark Fusion configuration.

Similar to how many of our current nuclear weapons work. They are Fission-Fusion bombs - a Fission explosion is used to create the conditions of a Fusion Explosion.
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Sigtrygg
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby Sigtrygg » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:30 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:14 pm
Sigtrygg wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:31 pm
And where do you get the free quarks from to fuse in the first place?

Unmaking protons and neutrons to free up quarks just so you can fuse the quarks...
Bottom quarks, as used in the theory, are heavier than protons, so cannot be contained in the protons.

You have to make them by concentrating energy, e.g. by colliding things.
Which means you are going to spend a lot more energy making your quarks than you will ever get out of fusing them.

Isn't it a better idea to just make antimatter instead...
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby AnotherDilbert » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:21 pm

Sigtrygg wrote: Isn't it a better idea to just make antimatter instead...
Yes, of course.

But you will not find useful amounts of antimatter in nature either, so you have to make the antimatter, using a lot more energy than you will get back by annihilating it.
phavoc
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby phavoc » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:38 am

Sigtrygg wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:30 pm
Which means you are going to spend a lot more energy making your quarks than you will ever get out of fusing them.

Isn't it a better idea to just make antimatter instead...
According to the article the quark energy output is 10X what a fusion reactor puts out.
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby baithammer » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:52 am

But doesn't mention the amount of energy used to produce the quarks.
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:09 am

calculations showed it took 230 MeV to fuse such quarks, but doing so resulted in a net release of approximately 138 MeV, which the team calculated was approximately eight times more than the amount released during hydrogen fusion.
It's eight times more energy per fused particle, not eight times more energy per something useful.

It's much, much easier to fuse hydrogen nuclei.


Extremely simplified overview:
Image
1) First you have to create a Λ particle with a bottom quark, Λᵇ (that breaks down in about 1 ps).
2) Then you have to create a Λ particle with a charm quark, Λᶜ (that breaks down in about 0.2 ps).
3) Then you have to collide exactly one Λᵇ and one Λᶜ particle at the right energy.
4) You have to make sure nearly every particle collides and fuses, lest you lose energy rather than gain energy.

This is as far as I can understand [I don't] much, much more difficult than trivial tech such as antimatter power plants.

It might be something for Grandfather, the Galaxiad, or some other magical setting.
phavoc
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Re: Quark Reactors

Postby phavoc » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:47 pm

calculations showed it took 230 MeV to fuse such quarks, but doing so resulted in a net release of approximately 138 MeV, which the team calculated was approximately eight times more than the amount released during hydrogen fusion.
It's eight times more energy per fused particle, not eight times more energy per something useful.

It's much, much easier to fuse hydrogen nuclei.

This is as far as I can understand [I don't] much, much more difficult than trivial tech such as antimatter power plants.

It might be something for Grandfather, the Galaxiad, or some other magical setting.
[/quote]

According to the article, "This, according to the team, is about eight times more energy than that released during individual hydrogen fusion events – the process that, by the billions, drives hydrogen bombs." The energy released from a hydrogen fusion is not useful unless captured and we are unable to practically have a self-sustain fusion reaction today. There is no difference in that sense. The question would be could they figure out a way to continually fuse quarks. Since we can't do that with hydrogen currently, there is no difference between quark and hydrogen fusion.

It's all something we'd have to leave to Grandfather since Traveller tech doesn't work either. Just FYI, Traveller is a magical setting too.

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