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Trek Tech Pass me the quantum flux regulator, will you?

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Old January 18 2012, 11:05 PM   #1
feld
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Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

OK,

This is really a question for Mr. Rick Sternbach Rick Sternbach Rick Sternbach (which I believe is the approved way to attract his attention - if not please only set phasers on setting 1) but I welcome anyone's ideas. On to the question:

Why does the TNG era Federation use deuterium/anti-deuterium in it's matter/antimatter reactors?

The reason I ask is that it would seem simpler to find/make straight hydrogen/anti-hydrogen and the reaction products are cleaner. I know that deuterium is fusion fuel both burning with itself (D-D) or with tritium (D-T) so I understand that carrying some for fusion makes sense. Straight up hydrogen is tougher to fusion burn. D-T's the easiest fusion fuel to burn and D-D's not bad...given Star Trek levels of technology that is...

I know I'm digging hard at the real science behind the show. If the answer to my question is "because it sounded cool" or "because DAEDALUS used it" then cool. The only reason I ask is because the TNG TechMan and other works indicate that Mr. Sternbach has a better than average grasp of nuclear rocketry and it stuck me as odd.

v/r
feld

PS. oh. and Hi! First post and all that.
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Old January 19 2012, 02:14 AM   #2
CuttingEdge100
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

I don't get it either, especially since hydrogen is easier to find and AFAIK anti-neutrons don't annihilate when brought into contact with regular neutrons.
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Old January 19 2012, 02:24 AM   #3
Christopher
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

Neutrons and antineutrons do annihilate. The neutron as a whole has no charge, but the three quarks making it up do (one has a +2/3 charge and the other two have -1/3 charge each). The antineutron is made up of the respective antiquarks with the opposite charges.
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Old January 19 2012, 02:41 PM   #4
feld
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Neutrons and antineutrons do annihilate. The neutron as a whole has no charge, but the three quarks making it up do (one has a +2/3 charge and the other two have -1/3 charge each). The antineutron is made up of the respective antiquarks with the opposite charges.
Concur. They do in fact annihiliate. I've not figured out what they annihiliate down to though and on what timescales. Need to learn more quantum for that. Contrary to much common opinion though, while electrons and positrons react to produce gamma ray photons, hydrogen and anti-hydrogen do produce charged particles from their annihiliation...briefly.

See article here for more detail.

I figured that the neutron/anti-neutron annihiliation might make more charged particles for the EPS...but don't have any real science to support that idea.

Thanks for the responses.

v/r
feld
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Old January 19 2012, 06:43 PM   #5
Starlock
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

I always thought of it as being basic fuel economics in that it takes less energy to condense and store Deuterium.

And since Deuterium Slush is a probably a bit denser than plain ol' Hydrogen Slush - you could probably squeeze a little extra fuel into the tank.

Your actual Mileage May Vary.
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Old January 19 2012, 08:07 PM   #6
feld
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

Starlock wrote: View Post
And since Deuterium Slush is a probably a bit denser than plain ol' Hydrogen Slush - you could probably squeeze a little extra fuel into the tank.

Your actual Mileage May Vary.
Ack. Duh. I never even checked. Shoulda known that. In retrospect, I think it was mentioned in the DAEDALUS papers. That's what I get for thinking nuclear only.
LH2 density = 67.8 kg·m−3
LD2 density = 162.4 kg/m3

good call!

Do you happen to have a reference for this statement below?

Starlock wrote: View Post
I always thought of it as being basic fuel economics in that it takes less energy to condense and store Deuterium.
v/r
feld

Last edited by feld; January 19 2012 at 08:23 PM. Reason: To ask follow on question.
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Old January 19 2012, 09:02 PM   #7
Starlock
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

^Just extrapolating - I've read that Deuterium has a 10 degree higher freezing point than Hydrogen. That would add up in energy savings after a few light years. Sorry if I inferred too much.
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Old January 19 2012, 09:27 PM   #8
Ronald Held
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

Deuterium is easier to use as fuel for the fusion reactors and impulse drive.
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Old January 19 2012, 10:29 PM   #9
feld
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

Starlock wrote: View Post
^Just extrapolating - I've read that Deuterium has a 10 degree higher freezing point than Hydrogen. That would add up in energy savings after a few light years. Sorry if I inferred too much.
<grin> Certainly no need to apologize to me. I'm always looking for new references (both for RL and ST)

Ronald Held wrote: View Post
Deuterium is easier to use as fuel for the fusion reactors and impulse drive.
That could certainly be it. Sorry to anyone who saw my previous response to this: I had completely forgotten some numbers and was very confused. I'm better now.

v/r
feld

Last edited by feld; January 19 2012 at 10:58 PM. Reason: Respond to both posts and deleted a HUGE RL tech error in my first response
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Old January 20 2012, 07:45 AM   #10
Kaziarl
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

My personal best guess is deuterium was already a somewhat well known term. Even when talking about hydrogen fuel, I always hear people use the term deuterium instead.

But as far as any practical reasons why one is better then the other... no clue but it seems others do.
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Old January 21 2012, 11:59 PM   #11
Rick Sternbach
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

feld wrote: View Post
If the answer to my question is "because it sounded cool" or "because DAEDALUS used it" then cool.
Yeah, pretty much. The folks who helped me understand fusion rockets in the early 1970s (and later) got me on the deuterium/antideuterium kick. I believe one of them was Dr. Steve Howe when he was with LANL; Steve's helped with a lot of nuclear stuff since, including NTR engines for solar system travel. I'm no physicist, so I can't tell you which isotope is going to deliver better performance or be easier to refine and reverse. But for techy bits in an entertainment product, deuterium and its flipped side would seem to work just fine.

Rick
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Old January 22 2012, 01:14 AM   #12
feld
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

Mr. Sternbach,

Roger all and thanks! That's pretty much what I thought.

I've been trying to figure out how to build a starship pretty much ever since I saw Mr. Probert's redesign of the big 'E' as an impressionable young person in a movie theater.

No one had the heart to tell me the thing wasn't real until much later...bastards. Still - been a fun ride

Incidentally - I think that D/D<bar> is probably a pretty good fuel mix choice. As someone else pointed out: the stuff is much denser than straight hydrogen. Plus, the neutrons/antineutrons should annihiliate and the extra mass doesn't hurt.

Now to find my quantum textbook and figure out what the reaction products would be... I'm working on what my wife has dubbed the "Grand Unification Theory of Treknology" and, if I'm right, there's some useful Real-Science(tm.) that can rationalize quite a bit of Federation starship engineering.

v/r
feld

p.s. I think Dr. Howe wrote one of the first papers on laser induced fusion microexplosions for rocketry which got me started on this kick in college. Cool!
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Old January 22 2012, 08:00 AM   #13
Rick Sternbach
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

feld wrote: View Post
Now to find my quantum textbook and figure out what the reaction products would be...
I think it was Steve who told me that a straight 1:1 "intermix" ratio would produce mostly gamma rays, which is why we started with 25:1 M:A. Makes a nice hot plasma, and then we adjust it closer to 1:1 to get higher warp values, but never actually go with equal amounts. Works for me. It's a lot more fleshed out than what was devised for TOS, but bless 'em, they did try back in '67.

Rick
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Old January 22 2012, 03:16 PM   #14
Christopher
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

Rick Sternbach wrote: View Post
I think it was Steve who told me that a straight 1:1 "intermix" ratio would produce mostly gamma rays, which is why we started with 25:1 M:A. Makes a nice hot plasma, and then we adjust it closer to 1:1 to get higher warp values, but never actually go with equal amounts. Works for me.
Though it contradicts what they said in TNG: "Coming of Age," which was that 1:1 is the only intermix ratio. Which always sounded a little hinky to me anyway.
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Old January 22 2012, 09:20 PM   #15
feld
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Re: Why Deuterium/Anti-deuterium?

With respect, I don't think it ... quite...contradicts that episode. That is, if the screen play is correct.

The question is:

COMPUTER VOICE
Last question on the Hyper Space
Physics test: If the matter and
antimatter tanks on a Galaxy Class
starship are nine-tenths depleted,
calculate the intermix ratio
necessary to reach a starbase a
hundred light years away at warp
factor eight...

<snip...more stage direction and not relevant dialogue...>

WESLEY
As soon as I realized it was a
trick question, there was only
one answer.

MORDOCK
Yes. There is only one "ratio"
with matter-antimatter. One to
one.
Mordock's line is somewhat troublesome ... but there's a relatively convenient retcon...since the question specified warp 8 and the TM says that the intermix ratio plateaus at 1:1 at warp 8.

Incidentally, while I applaud the realization that having some mundane matter around to form the warp plasma is a good thing, 1:1 would appear to work just fine for proton/antiproton (p/ap) reactor. We know what the reaction products from a p/ap reaction are ... and they're not just gamma rays...or, at least, not immediately just gamma rays. The reaction products are largely charged pions which can be ducted electromagnetically. This is why there is persistent interest in p/ap rocketry. None other than Dr. Forward shows a figure on page 3 of the linked pdf showing the process (again for a p/ap). The first reaction products produced are neutral and +/- charged pions. Each of these reaction products decays further. The neutral pions decay into really nasty they-go-through-schools type gamma rays. The charged pions travel roughly 21 meters before they decay into more “stable” neutrinos and charged-muons. The muons then travel for a further 1.85 km before decay.

Hence each stage has some charged particles that can be "ducted" electromagnetically and I'd wager that much of the rest of the history of M/ARA development involved trying to capture the rest of the energy to increase efficiency to the highest possible levels.

Anyway, this all touches on the reason I asked the original "why deuterium" question and also why I'm going to go confirm what the reaction products of a D/aD reaction are. Because p/ap seems to work just fine...so it got me wondering if the Federation always used D/aD or switched to it at some point latter in its history.

Hmmm...hey...are there any references to deuterium tankage on early Federation starships (aka refit Enterprise in TMP or TWOK) or do they start with the A and Excelsior from TUC? The Enterprise Flight Manual (written by Mr. Sternbach?) for Phase 2 and console footage show are unclear on the actual fuel in use.

v/r
feld
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