Author Topic: A nacelles related issue  (Read 6915 times)

Offline Commodore Dornik

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A nacelles related issue
« on: June 25, 2009, 01:47:12 AM »
I made a couple of research today on a question that strangely only occured to me very recently and I could not find something to answer it (and I don't remember reading something about it in the TNG tech manual but I can't check since the book is 16,000 km away from me at the moment  ::)). I know there's a thread here on nacelles (that one) but I did not feel like reviving it and apparently my question is not related to what was discussed there.

So, what happen to the plasma after it is used to power the warp coils ? Is there a mechanism to harness it and send it back into the circuit ? Indeed, I would think this is a deuterium plasma so depleted of its (thermal) energy after being used in the coils, it would be back to a gaseous state and pumped back into the main tank (after the required compression to liquid form). This could provide a reason why the ships can sustain such long flights on limited tanks if you combine it with the fact that deuterium is probably maintained in a highly compressed form.

I know about the Bussard collectors but they seem to be, in the context of Trek, not the most efficient solution to gather fuel.

Offline Commodore Dornik

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2009, 07:51:18 PM »
No one is inspired by my question ?

Offline GStone

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2009, 04:51:40 AM »
The carrier fuel for the energy is probably reused.
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Offline Commodore Dornik

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2009, 05:19:46 AM »
That's what I'm thinking but I haven't found any mention on it.

Offline Phaeton99

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2009, 12:44:28 PM »
I sat pondering this question for quite a while.

Now, I claim no expertise on the subject, but it seems to me the question revolves around whether the plasma is a transfer medium or directly consumed by the warp coils.  I have seen some suggestion by RW research into tapping plasma for power (and again, this is only a layman's interpretation) that the plasma itself is consumed in the process.

Although I do truly doubt the physics were fully thought through by Star Trek productions, perhaps the apparent lack of a return conduit from the nacelles could be taken as a sign that it is a one-way flow.

Of course, this does not preclude that a conservation of plasma might not be possible even practical in-setting; rather that Starfleet engineering favors this approach.

One might ponder the pros and cons of each mode, presuming that both are legitimate methods, and speculate why the fleet favors one over the other.

Perhaps SF convention believes the one-way model is safer, more efficient, or simply the design approach preferred because it is a refined model well-known to their engineers and architects.  Perhaps a conservational plasma circuit does not produce the peak power output, but is deemed more suited to lower-performance, long-haul vessel (could be common on commercial cargo ships, for example).
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Offline GStone

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2009, 05:47:56 PM »
If it's one way, then it's all one big electron pumper and shooter. The ultimate boob tube.
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Offline Commodore Horton

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2009, 11:26:20 PM »
Just an odd thought here, people...it seems to me that it would be really, really easy to just stick a one way transporter at the end of the circuit, the exit at the begginning end, and just have it looping like that. No big deal. I suppose the only limit would be if you could create a transporter that you could dunk in plasma. Nothing a bit of phasing wouldn't solve, though.
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Offline Aemielius

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2010, 11:31:47 PM »
Warp nacelles and their coils are energy transducers much like your favorite radio stations antenna.  The plasma is their form of operating energy much like electricity is for the mentioned radio station.

Ask yourself; 'What happens to the electricity powering the antenna after it emits its EM RF signal?'
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Offline jgallaway81

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2010, 06:21:49 PM »
1) Plasma by definition is a HOT, ionized gas. Hot means in the several thousands of degrees, ionized means that the component atoms of the initial molecules have been striped of the electrons.

Now, having defined plasma as we understand it today.

The TNG TM says that the warp core "idles" at a matter-antimatter ratio of 25-1. This means that for every 25 units of matter and 1 unit of antimatter, you will get 24 units of the lowest energy-level plasma.

One could speculate that this would be comparable to our (domestic America) use of 12v DC for electronics.

The TM then said that from Warp one to Warp... seven I believe was mentioned... the ratio of Matter to antimatter was reduced to eventually 1 to 1. After the ratio reached 1 to 1, the core simply used higher quantities of reactants to produce more power up to Warp 9.whatever

This leaves open two issues. 1) After you reach a ratio of 1 to 1, the result is pure hard gamma radiation, NOT plasma. Theoretically, the technology of Starfleet could channel gamma radiation in the same conduits as the plasma, in the same way current technology can make waveguide conduits for microwave energy. 2) from Idle to Warp seven, there is in fact an "exhaust" product.

Perhaps this issue is where the damage to subspace/space boundry is caused. One could speculate that up to warp 5  (the "safe" speed limit) the remaining energy density in the "exhaust" plasma is insufficient to damage the boundry. AFTER warp 5, the plasma retains enough waste energy to cause an energy imbalance in the subspace boundry layer.

Once a ship passed warp 7, the drive would no longer produce an exhaust plasma, just waste radiation left over from energizing the warp field coils.

Offline Indefatigable

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2010, 08:27:19 PM »
1) Plasma by definition is a HOT, ionized gas. Hot means in the several thousands of degrees, ionized means that the component atoms of the initial molecules have been striped of the electrons.

Now, having defined plasma as we understand it today.

The TNG TM says that the warp core "idles" at a matter-antimatter ratio of 25-1. This means that for every 25 units of matter and 1 unit of antimatter, you will get 24 units of the lowest energy-level plasma.

One could speculate that this would be comparable to our (domestic America) use of 12v DC for electronics.

The TM then said that from Warp one to Warp... seven I believe was mentioned... the ratio of Matter to antimatter was reduced to eventually 1 to 1. After the ratio reached 1 to 1, the core simply used higher quantities of reactants to produce more power up to Warp 9.whatever

This leaves open two issues. 1) After you reach a ratio of 1 to 1, the result is pure hard gamma radiation, NOT plasma. Theoretically, the technology of Starfleet could channel gamma radiation in the same conduits as the plasma, in the same way current technology can make waveguide conduits for microwave energy. 2) from Idle to Warp seven, there is in fact an "exhaust" product.

Perhaps this issue is where the damage to subspace/space boundry is caused. One could speculate that up to warp 5  (the "safe" speed limit) the remaining energy density in the "exhaust" plasma is insufficient to damage the boundry. AFTER warp 5, the plasma retains enough waste energy to cause an energy imbalance in the subspace boundry layer.

Once a ship passed warp 7, the drive would no longer produce an exhaust plasma, just waste radiation left over from energizing the warp field coils.

IIRC, plasma takes up a volume much greater than that of the gas it was originally formed from, meaning that the return pipe could be a lot smaller than the feed conduit.  However, the only image of what actually happens in a nacelle come from "Eye of the Beholder".  There, it looks as though two plasma streams collide with each other in between the coils and feed aft.  I wouldn't have thought that would do much, and would have imagined that the plasma was fed around the coils, then back down the pylons and into the warp core again.  The return pipe from the condenser of a nuclear submarine does not need to be anything like as strong as the steam pipe that feeds the turbines, for precisely the same reason.  Not sure if that applies or not.

Warp nacelles and their coils are energy transducers much like your favorite radio stations antenna.  The plasma is their form of operating energy much like electricity is for the mentioned radio station.

Ask yourself; 'What happens to the electricity powering the antenna after it emits its EM RF signal?'

So what the frell does happen to it?  I'm a zoologist, not a physicist.  Please explain.
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Offline The Unbound

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2010, 12:12:44 PM »
Warp nacelles and their coils are energy transducers much like your favorite radio stations antenna.  The plasma is their form of operating energy much like electricity is for the mentioned radio station.

Ask yourself; 'What happens to the electricity powering the antenna after it emits its EM RF signal?'

So what the frell does happen to it?  I'm a zoologist, not a physicist.  Please explain.

I believe that question is sort of analagous to the question 'what happens to the river after it's run into the sea?' The answer depends on now closely you want to look at the details. Anyway, plasma is a physical substance, unlike electricity, which is something that happens to a physical substance. Even after you've extracted the energy, there's still some waste material left to be dealt with.
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Offline Edymnion

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2010, 02:56:41 PM »
Yes, the plasma couldn't be consumed by the nacelles, its just a hot electrically conductive gas (essentially).  Its used to transfer energy, it is not the energy itself.  And from how many times we've heard "we're venting plasma!" as a "Oh crap, the engines are in trouble!" line, I'd say its pretty clear that plasma is not normally vented outside the ship in any way.

Which makes sense, as it would be a limited commodity on a starship.  You can't go pumping in an idle mixture of 25:1 matter:antimatter and then just dump the excess matter out the back of the ship without exhausting your deuterium supplies pretty quickly.  Much more realistic to think of the plasma as being like electrical cables that carry energy.  The warp engine and the supplemental fusion reactors create the energy to bump up a transfer medium into a plasma, which conducts the energy of the reaction around the ship in what would amount to a system of water pipes carrying plasma instead (the EPS conduits).


Offline Oztrekkie

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2011, 12:48:54 PM »
Yes, the plasma couldn't be consumed by the nacelles, its just a hot electrically conductive gas (essentially).  Its used to transfer energy, it is not the energy itself.  And from how many times we've heard "we're venting plasma!" as a "Oh crap, the engines are in trouble!" line, I'd say its pretty clear that plasma is not normally vented outside the ship in any way.

Well, if we are saying that the plasma is just a conductor, then maybe it's like a wire, it just extends to the injectors through the conduits, then the energy pulses through it. Remember how the EPS conduits always looked like the warp core? They were pulsing down their length with some kind of light. Maybe that was secondary photons emitted from the energy pulsing through the plasma.

Thus, the engines wouldn't consume the plasma, and it would also be a problem when venting plasma. Also, we are talking about a lot less matter, and thus fuel, with this proposal. Also, we don't have to modify the existing tech, so it shold remain canon.
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Offline Data007

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2011, 10:15:13 AM »
I would have to say, that it likely isn't a problem to vent spent plasma, i.e. the stuff that's carried energy to the nacelles already. It's my notion that when someone says, 'we're venting plasma,' it's the stuff that's still highly charged and is likely burning through what would normally be shirtsleeves crew environments. I also think that it's widely underestimated just how much deuterium a starship carries and how little is needed in that 25-1 ratio. It sounds like a lot, but when you're working with antimatter and it's attendant power output, you don't need a lot.
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Offline The Unbound

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Re: A nacelles related issue
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2011, 12:31:31 PM »
Well, for a sense of scale, I did a rough calculation on the combined average power consumption of the world (according to Wikipedia), which I took to be about 2 Terawatts (And I just remembered that they said in TNG:The Dauphin that the E-D can't produce even one TW, although Trek does have a habit of running from its own numbers). Taking a 1:25 ratio into account, you need a quarter of a gram per second of deuterium to produce that amount of power.

So, no, Not a lot.
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