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The Fleet Ship designs, strategies, and tactics.

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  #1  
Old May 17th, 2020, 09:10 PM
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Default Starship electrical system

So I was thinking of the electrical system on a Beowulf, because I am weird like that, and a question occured to me.

What kind of electrical power does a ship's fusion plant produce?

I am thinking that at TL 12 to 14, fusion is acheived in a chamber, surrounded by an ultra high bandwidth "solar cell" analogous material/structure. Possibly some additional waist heat energy extraction (steam plant??).

Solar panels produce DC power, a DC current. Many of the computer systems, and electronics all run on DC. Any rotating machinery can use either AC or DC motors.

Is there a reason to include an AC power system aboard a starship?
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  #2  
Old May 17th, 2020, 11:02 PM
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Quote:
(steam plant??)
not on a traveller starship.

Quote:
Is there a reason to include an AC power system aboard a starship?
rotary ac generation has fewer moving parts and is more reliable.

ac voltage can be stepped up/down to almost any value as needed.

ac can be three-phased, making it cheaper to build and install, and can operate with one phase grounded thus making it more robust in damage control situations.

ac is an inherent signal emitter.

if any of that is important to you/the game/something then it'll play a role. if not then not.

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What kind of electrical power does a ship's fusion plant produce?
I just say dc and leave it at that. if the issue ever comes up in a game I'll know where to start winging it, but it hasn't yet.

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Old May 17th, 2020, 11:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drakon View Post
So I was thinking of the electrical system on a Beowulf, because I am weird like that, and a question occured to me.

What kind of electrical power does a ship's fusion plant produce?

I am thinking that at TL 12 to 14, fusion is acheived in a chamber, surrounded by an ultra high bandwidth "solar cell" analogous material/structure. Possibly some additional waist heat energy extraction (steam plant??).

Solar panels produce DC power, a DC current. Many of the computer systems, and electronics all run on DC. Any rotating machinery can use either AC or DC motors.

Is there a reason to include an AC power system aboard a starship?
Several reasons -
  • AC suffers less distance loss (and resultant thermal addition)
  • AC sets a steady unified timing signal
  • AC is more easily rectified than DC inverted
  • Ships are likely to be using dual nets... AC for system where it is beneficial, DC for others.
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Old May 18th, 2020, 07:17 AM
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I've considered it, and I suspect that if an appliance can be battery powered or recharged, that's the most likely option.

Current ship design systems certainly allow options, depending on the size of the spacecraft.

The computers certainly don't need to be powered directly from the main power plant, whether or not you install surge protectors; in most cases, jump drives, manoeuvre drives, weapon systems, sensor suites, basic ship systems.
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Old May 18th, 2020, 07:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramis View Post
Several reasons -
  • AC suffers less distance loss (and resultant thermal addition)
  • AC sets a steady unified timing signal
  • AC is more easily rectified than DC inverted
  • Ships are likely to be using dual nets... AC for system where it is beneficial, DC for others.
As a former Navy nuclear engineer, I can say that modern warships (and presumably commercial vessels too) use dual systems (AC and DC). The generators produce AC, and DC is rectified from it where needed.

I'm not sure about how fusion plants would create electricity. I'd probably just assumed there'd be some type of coolant that would be used in some kind of turbine generator, but I don't know.

A quick look at the ITER web site https://www.iter.org/sci/MakingitWork shows that I was right, at least for the ITER. Futuristic plants could do it differently, of course.

Last edited by The Oz; May 18th, 2020 at 11:39 AM..
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Old May 18th, 2020, 10:30 AM
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I would think that large ships especially would have an AC backbone, but DC "plugs".

Smaller ships may be pure DC. That is, an AC generator with DC rectified pretty much at the source and then distributed throughout the small ship.

That said, I think (I don't know) that AC is better for things like high wattage items (like ovens and the like).

There have already been musings about wiring houses with DC along with AC so we can get ride of the zillions of power supplies we all use.

I already have hard wired USB ports in my house for charging things, I can easily see the USB plug becoming a universal power connector.

Mind, my USB plugs are rectified at the plug. A DC wired house would have a central rectifier driving all of the plugs.
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Old May 18th, 2020, 11:12 AM
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My take is that a ships fusion plant produces DC which is them inverted into AC.

Here's why: At the most simple and tried (not necessarily trusted!) level, it's likely to be a PLR format of plant (Pressurised Liquid Reactor), with a turbine in the steam loop; the turbine will spin a generator col of some format, and hey presto, AC current.

In a more solid-state environment, it's much more likely that some kind of thermoelectric generation (TEG, or Seebeck) might be employed; this would be the most reliable and safe manner of power generation on board a starship, as it would not require pressurised liquids to be present on the vessel. However, a TEG produces DC, not AC, so this would have to be passed through an inverter of some form to produce AC, adding to the mass of the system.

FWIW, IMTU, a ships power plant is a TEG system.
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Old May 18th, 2020, 11:45 AM
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I would think an all-solid-state system would be more reliable and resistant to damage, but perhaps a different type of system (sodium-cooled, anyone) might be more efficient?

I've never given it much thought, but I would be inclined to handwave some high-tech solid-state system, if I needed that much detail. And a solid-state system would produce DC, I think.
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Old May 18th, 2020, 12:17 PM
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A bit OT, but related:

One of the more glaring omissions from the rules is reactor cooling components, be it massive heat sinks, radiator fins, coolant exhaust ports (and the means to refill them), and so on. Heat build up is an issue, after all.

Space Shuttles dealt with it, in major part, by opening the cargo doors towards Earth, and radiating the heat away from the shuttle.

So, I wonder, how do Traveller starships deal with it?
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Old May 18th, 2020, 01:23 PM
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Magic heat sinks based on an application of gravitics technology is how I explain it.
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