Fusion Power Plants

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
phavoc
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 4239
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:13 pm

Fusion Power Plants

Postby phavoc » Mon Feb 05, 2018 2:54 pm

Is there any consensus amongst the many players out there on just how the fusion plants of the Traveller universe work? Our terrestial power plants take heat from fission/fusion reactions and use it to create steam to drive a turbine. And I'm pretty sure that isn't the best way to generate copious amounts of electricity aboard a starship.

So how do you see them working? Do you see it as converting heat directly into energy? Maybe an exotic plasma device that strips out electrons and converts those into electricity? Or do you see that fusion plants of the future use cold fusion instead of hot plasma? If you like cold fusion model, do you prefer the palladium type (which so far has been discredited), or something else?
BigDogsRunning
Stoat
Posts: 94
Joined: Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:54 pm

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby BigDogsRunning » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:24 pm

I've always seen Traveller Fusion as hot fusion, using high-efficiency MHD turbines to generate power. In all probability, several different strategies could be used to capture energy. It could also use some sort of Peltier device, to pull more power out, and some sort of high-efficiency converter, like current solar technology.
Yatima
Stoat
Posts: 94
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:24 pm
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby Yatima » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:14 pm

If 2300 AD is any guide to the thoughts of the original traveller authors about Fusion power plants, that uses MHD turbines extensively, including allowing the plasma to leak out one end of the magnetic 'Bottle' to use it as a thruster.

J
"I hunker in the corner facing the door. Anyone that opens the door gets a full clip."
AnotherDilbert
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2814
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:49 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby AnotherDilbert » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:29 pm

FFS, p65 wrote:Fission and fusion reactors use the heat to boil water to turn a high-pressure turbine to generate electrical power.
I prefer not to think about how the heat is dumped...
Condottiere
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 6128
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:23 pm

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby Condottiere » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:54 am

That could end up as steampunk, though I've never noted any such machinery on the deckplans.
Reynard
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3082
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:03 pm

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby Reynard » Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:08 am

I thought Fusion Plus cold fusion systems was the established norm allowing for things as the fusion stills and portable fusion generators as well as vehicular sized fusion power systems and the efficiency of ship fusion power plants.
baithammer
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 616
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:21 am

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby baithammer » Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:09 am

Could use Photon-intermediate direct energy conversion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon-in ... conversion
phavoc
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 4239
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:13 pm

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby phavoc » Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:51 pm

BigDogsRunning wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:24 pm
I've always seen Traveller Fusion as hot fusion, using high-efficiency MHD turbines to generate power. In all probability, several different strategies could be used to capture energy. It could also use some sort of Peltier device, to pull more power out, and some sort of high-efficiency converter, like current solar technology.
The MHD/fusion plant seems like it might work. According to an abstract I found it (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1 ... T86-A24848) was proposed using electromagnetic radiation from the plasma. So the hot fusion model would work.

The Peltier idea (thermo-electric generators, or what long-range space probes use plutonium-powered heat to generate) would work to capture more waste heat and convert to energy, but it seems the efficiency is on the lower-end of the scale. But maybe in the future they would be able to figure out how to make it more efficient, which would address the issue of the glaring lack of radiators on spacecraft to radiate away heat. If they were able to pull the heat of the ship into a TEG grid apparatus, that would be an answer. Though the theory sounds really cool, it's also worming it's way into the mythical perpetual motion energy generation arena.
Yatima wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:14 pm
If 2300 AD is any guide to the thoughts of the original traveller authors about Fusion power plants, that uses MHD turbines extensively, including allowing the plasma to leak out one end of the magnetic 'Bottle' to use it as a thruster.

J
The only thing here is that thrusters in Traveller are kind of magical. There is no, or very, very negligible output from the thrusters. But it's a possibility with some rule re-jiggering.
AnotherDilbert wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:29 pm
FFS, p65 wrote:Fission and fusion reactors use the heat to boil water to turn a high-pressure turbine to generate electrical power.
I prefer not to think about how the heat is dumped...
Yah, the lack of radiators has always been an issue. And having a conventional reactor setup with steam generators seems rather odd for space flight. Though if JJ Abrams can do it... (ugh, some of the internal ST scenes were just plain stupid).
Condottiere wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:54 am
That could end up as steampunk, though I've never noted any such machinery on the deckplans.
I think no steam is a good idea. Deckplans, or what there are of them that show powerplant machinery, are relatively compact and always have been. I think this idea won't work.
Reynard wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:08 am
I thought Fusion Plus cold fusion systems was the established norm allowing for things as the fusion stills and portable fusion generators as well as vehicular sized fusion power systems and the efficiency of ship fusion power plants.
Cold fusion would almost have to be the norm for the very small craft that end up having fusion plants. Though I wonder if the game system would support two types of fusion - hot for starships and their very, very large power needs, and cold fusion for small craft who don't need nearly as much. It might be a way to rationally limit the firepower of carried small craft to balance them against their larger starship brethren.
baithammer wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:09 am
Could use Photon-intermediate direct energy conversion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon-in ... conversion
I wasn't aware of this (thanks for the link!). I guess I would have doubts about how much energy you could convert from the example flourescent manner since the power conversion is going to be limited by the amount of surface space. The example cited the similarity to solar panels, and they are limited by their surface area. Since the plants in starships are relatively compact and the converters would need to be on the inside of the reactor housing they are definitely going to be limited space wise.

Thanks everyone for the input!
AnotherDilbert
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2814
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:49 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby AnotherDilbert » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:14 pm

T5 seems to use cold fusion, at least at higher TL.
T5 wrote:Fusion Plus. The individual ship mechanisms are self-powered by Fusion Plus (compact cold fusion modules) ...
Fusion Plus may be available at TL 10 (but not all ship builders have access to Fusion Plus technology).
T5 wrote:FusionPlus is a small portable version of the Fusion Power Plant.
Condottiere
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 6128
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:23 pm

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby Condottiere » Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:33 pm

What you want is a direct conversion of whatever the fusion reactor is producing to electricty.

Converting heat to electricity might resolve other issues as well.
baithammer
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 616
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:21 am

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby baithammer » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:53 pm

phavoc wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:51 pm
BigDogsRunning wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:24 pm
baithammer wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:09 am
Could use Photon-intermediate direct energy conversion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon-in ... conversion
I wasn't aware of this (thanks for the link!). I guess I would have doubts about how much energy you could convert from the example flourescent manner since the power conversion is going to be limited by the amount of surface space. The example cited the similarity to solar panels, and they are limited by their surface area. Since the plants in starships are relatively compact and the converters would need to be on the inside of the reactor housing they are definitely going to be limited space wise.

Thanks everyone for the input!
It would be part of the powerplant itself and with creative geometry you can create significant surface area with a near constant light source. ( Higher tech level could also boost the efficiency.)
NOLATrav
Mongoose
Posts: 152
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:42 pm

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby NOLATrav » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:33 am

I've always used cold fusion, with the large amounts of liquid hydrogen used primarily to dissipate waste heat.
phavoc
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 4239
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:13 pm

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby phavoc » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:52 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:14 pm
T5 seems to use cold fusion, at least at higher TL.
T5 wrote:Fusion Plus. The individual ship mechanisms are self-powered by Fusion Plus (compact cold fusion modules) ...
Fusion Plus may be available at TL 10 (but not all ship builders have access to Fusion Plus technology).
T5 wrote:FusionPlus is a small portable version of the Fusion Power Plant.
I have not cracked open my T5 book or the pdf in quite sometime. I suppose I will take a look in there, but ignoring it remains my only source of protest for what I consider the debacle of the T5 kickstarter. I had such high hopes, and to see them uselessly dashed remains a bitter pill.
Condottiere wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:33 pm
What you want is a direct conversion of whatever the fusion reactor is producing to electricty.

Converting heat to electricity might resolve other issues as well.
Yes, a conversion method that somehow fits in the existing model. We already use (today) direct conversion of heat to electricity, though it only works on the lower scale of things. I don't know enough of the physics around it to fully understand why it doesn't scale upward well. A research project I suppose! :)
baithammer wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:53 pm
It would be part of the powerplant itself and with creative geometry you can create significant surface area with a near constant light source. ( Higher tech level could also boost the efficiency.)
Yes, I figured it would be included in the overall shell wrapped around the powerplant. And I figure there would have to be a lot of creative diffraction of the light. But with the amount of surface area available (even creatively refracting it so that there are multiple surface areas), there's still a total upper limit on just how much surface area would be available in the displacement present. And unless the conversion of photonic energy is vastly increased over solar, there just wouldn't be enough surface area to generate the many megajoules of output needed. At least not that I can see.
AnotherDilbert
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2814
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:49 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby AnotherDilbert » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:01 pm

phavoc wrote: Yes, a conversion method that somehow fits in the existing model. We already use (today) direct conversion of heat to electricity, though it only works on the lower scale of things. I don't know enough of the physics around it to fully understand why it doesn't scale upward well.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_T ... Second_law
Turning high entropy energy (heat) into low entropy energy (electricity) costs a lot of energy, so even direct conversion isn't likely to be all that much more efficient than steam turbines, and we still have to dump a lot of heat somehow...
baithammer
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 616
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:21 am

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby baithammer » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:38 am

Its a not a conversion of heat, its conversion to photons and converted through photovoltaics.
phavoc
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 4239
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:13 pm

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby phavoc » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:27 pm

I think those two conversation threads were getting mixed up.

Low heat levels could be converted to energy, and the proposal by Baithammer is based on a solar-cell like conversion.
AnotherDilbert
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2814
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:49 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby AnotherDilbert » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:22 pm

The simplest fusion reaction releases energetic neutrons (≈heat), not photons:
Image

The heat radiation (photons) from the plasma is highly unordered (=high entropy) so loses a lot of energy when converted into low entropy energy, such as electrical energy. The lost energy has to be dumped as extremely high entropy energy (e.g. dispersed heat).
Reynard
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3082
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:03 pm

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby Reynard » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:24 pm

I wonder if the discovery of gravitics come into play for maybe a more efficient compression method for fusion.

How about some form of p-B reaction that releases charged particles for direct conversion to electricity? Less thermal issues.
Condottiere
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 6128
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:23 pm

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby Condottiere » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:12 am

Gravitic membrane filter that allows specific particles to pass through.

Tuning ye magnetic bottle.
steve98052
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 585
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:13 am
Location: near Seattle

Re: Fusion Power Plants

Postby steve98052 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:17 am

I observe that most things Traveller labels as TL8 are now current technology, with two big exceptions:
- Fusion is entirely plausible as an energy source with current basic science, but remains beyond the reach of current technology.
- Gravitic technology rests on basic science that is contrary to current understanding of the science, as well as generating some perpetual motion machine contradictions.

One way to bring these two quirks of Traveller TL8 science and technology together is to say that fusion energy is a massive, difficult puzzle -- until TL8 gravitiv science is discovered. With that, utility fusion is easy, shipboard scale fusion is workable, and compact fusion is possible with further advances in technology, maybe without new basic science.

With the manipulation of strong force that makes nuclear dampers possible -- specifically damper boxes -- it should become possible to make fusion more compact, by throwing fusion fuel matter together and bumping up the strong force just enough to catalyze fusion at a more attainable temperature. I think that arrives around TL12.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 5 guests