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Old February 1 2009, 07:17 PM   #7
Praetor
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
Well, strictly speaking for dramatic purposes there's no reason why the engine room couldn't simply be a control room tucked between the nacelle pylons next to a transformer or circuit breaker that brings ship's power down from the nacelles to the rest of the ship. In point of fact, most engineering decisions on modern naval vessels are made in the maneuver room or the motor room, not the room where the actual power plant (or reactor on a nuke boat) really are.
Which I think was more Jefferies' intention when he first designed the set, until it was 'opened up' with the second level and the matter/antimatter whatsis in the center of the room.

On the other hand, the same can be said for the TMP Enterprise. Arguably, the intermix chamber was just a power transfer conduit with the reactor room far below decks, so "Engine Room" in the refit Constitution refit could be anywhere you need it to be.
You know, I'd never considered how likely that indeed is, especially when you take into account that the dilithium is off to one side like it is. The reaction takes place off to the side, basically, and then the intermix chamber is just a big transfer conduit that keeps it energized.

That gives me a thought. Suppose the warp reactors of the TOS ship really was in the engine nacelles? In that case the gigantic machinery bay on the other side of the chainlink fence might just be a massive energizer array where drive plasma is siphoned downwards from the warp nacelles and then converted into energy.
I tend to agree with this, even if it seems like a divergence.

On the other hand, the same could be said for the TMP Enterprise. There's certainly nothing in canon that suggests the intermix chamber MUST feed towards the nacelles and not the other way around. It's entirely possible the drive plasma is produced in the warp nacelles (where the bussard collectors are) and channeled down to the so-called "Engine Room" where it's converted to electrical energy or channeled into the impulse engines high above or the main deflector far below.
I don't see why not, especially since it's not 'centralized' in the way 24th century tech is.

The only thing that doesn't fit this theory is 24th century technology, but then there's no reason to assume the 24th century equivalent isn't vastly more advanced than the engine designs of a century earlier, appearances aside (like the difference between a piston-driven aircraft and its jet-powered counterpart).
I agree. In fact, it's my personal pet theory that the Excelsior project was what resulted in the 'modern' 24th century setup, since in Star Trek VI we see the 'centralized' TNG warp core used for both ships.

Albertese wrote: View Post
This seems to be a variation on a very old argument regarding the nature of the 1701's power source. Lines from the show can be interpreted to mean either power generation in the nacelles or in a central reactor. For my money, I interpret them to mean that there are three reactors, one in each nacelle as a more or less dedicated power source for each warp engine and a central one which powers mostly the ship but is somehow critical to keeping the other two operational. So why would this be so only on the TOS Enterprise but not the later (and for that matter, earlier(NX-01)) ships?

Simple. The engines of the NX-01 did not require near the energy as later engines since it wasn't as powerful. The warp technology could of outpaced the reactor technology making 1701's engines huge power hogs (after all, warp 8 is 512c while warp 5 is 125c; about 1/4 the power). But if the reactor only got twice as good then obviously a single power source would not have been sufficient for such big engines. Eventually (TMP) breakthroughs in reactor technology did catch up and the centralized reactor came back into vogue.
Stop reading my mind!!!!

I've held more or less that theory for a while now too. I had thought that the TOS engine setup would feature three interlinked ENT size reactors originally, but perhaps instead there are two 'main' reactors (one per nacelle) and a third smaller reactor in the hull that re-energizes the plasma for use by the ship's power systems (explaining the presence of the small, apparently critical dilithium crystal there)? I think it's rather debateable whether the TMP setup was a new layout, or just an expansion of the TOS setup for greater centralization. newtype_alpha's suggestion that the TMP setup wasn't really that different is very tantalizing, especially since that setup isn't that clearly centralized like the TNG core.

To the original question as to why the core is so far from the engines, recall that this "warp core" is merely the giant D-cell that powers the ship, warp drive included. It's not simply a dedicated system for just the engines, even though, doubtlessly, there is no single system that uses more of the power it produces. It makes sense to put it as near the engines as it is, but there's no reason it has to be right up there with them.
Well said.
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