Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by shipfisher, Feb 1, 2009.

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  1. Jadzia

    Jadzia on holiday Premium Member

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    what about the core being internal is akin to protection of vital organs in a biological organism. The core is a general power source. Without that the ship is not only stranded but is reliant on backup power. So it is more precious than the nacelles, so needs to be in a place where it isn't going to be easily shot at.
     
  2. Santaman

    Santaman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^^ without shields no place inside the ship is safe, as for why the M/AM reactor is inside the secundary hull, kinda logical since the fuel is there as well.
     
  3. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It does if you're trying to extract power from an enormous magnetoplasmadynamic generator.

    Think about this: in an MPD turbine, you simply have an electrically conductive working fluid (plasma is ideal for this) passing through the magnetic field lines of a natural magnet. As the conductive fluid crosses those lines it creates electric potential which then becomes your electrical voltage into and out of the generator. I have theorized on a number of occasions that the warp drive is probably some kind of gravito-plasmadynamic system; sort of the gravitational equivalent of an electromagnetic field.
     
  4. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This leads me to wonder about the reliance on a warp core at all. Certainly placing the warp reactors in the nacelles would give you a bit of redundancy if you can transfer power between them, but more to the point, why a single massive reactor when the ship could probably function just as well with a dozen smaller reactors? After all, a modern-day aircraft carrier is powered by four nuclear reactor cores, not one incredibly huge reactor; many conventional warships have five or six gas turbine engines, sometimes in multiple engine rooms, which ironically are often the exact same engines that power fighter aircraft elsewhere in the fleet. Even the 19040s Gato-class submarine has up to four diesel engines in two engine rooms all supplying power to the motors. Why must a starship have to make due with only a single power plant as its "beating heart" when it might work even more efficiently with several smaller units? Not just for redundancy (you can jettison a problem reactor, or shut it down and run on the five good reactors until the sixth is repaired) but also for ease of maintenance, since a smaller warp reactor would be much easier to replace if it is damaged or disabled.

    Maybe the fan-tech gurus should look into this? A starship with more modular engine components; perhaps an engine laid out something like a V-8 with a dilithium spark plug and multiple independent reaction chambers that can be isolated or swapped out if anything goes wrong?:borg: Otherwise, I could definitely see a Constitution or Miranda-sized vessel being powered by a bank of runabout-class warp engines; maybe bring back the old chainlink fence thing from the TOS engine room and have a dozen independent reaction chambers there?
     
  5. JuanBolio

    JuanBolio Admiral Admiral

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    ^ I believe Masao did some speculation/extrapolation on his Starfleet Museum page regarding the Klingons using multiple reactors in their ships, thus reflecting Klingon biological redundancy.

    Why only one reactor in the shows and movies? More dramatic. Greater chance of catastrophic failure.
     
  6. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Awww... catastrophic failure's been done to death IMnsHO. How about Totally Inconvenient Handicapping Failure? How about "Reactors one two and four are damaged, and number five is about to overheat from the strain!" failure, followed by "Please, Enterprise, please don't quit on me now!" type anxiety?

    I just figure that having the engines counting down to blow like a ticking time bomb is a bit less compelling (now) than having the engines--and the crew--pushed to the breaking point trying to survive.
     
  7. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, conveniently we do have the nice 'v' shape behind the TOS ship's grill. And based on dialog from 'Mudd's Women' at that time at least they needed four (di)lithium crystals to replaced burned out ones to run the ship. So I could easily see the behind-the-grill structure being some kind of V8 (or, V4) style assembly.

    Of course, lithium becoming dililthium aside, 'Mudd's Women' almost directly contradicts 'Elaan of Troyius' where they seem to have one and only one central crystal, but then again in 'The Alternative Factor' they had drawers full. I'd suggest that there were indeed multiple crystals the whole time, and simply in 'Elaan of Troyius' the one burned out was a central one that simply didn't have a replacement, hence the need for Elaan's necklace. I'd also suggest that the banks from 'The Alternative Factor' were not a part of the ship's operation, but rather were a place where still 'hot' or plasma-charged crystals go to feed energy into the ship's power converters when they are rotated out of the reactors, or some crude form of an attempt at recrystalization, or perhaps a location for rotated-out crystals to go to 'cool off' so they don't crack.

    So overall, given both the shape of the structure behind the grill, combined with the multiple crystal references, we could potentially have a V12 warp core, with a minimal need of four crystals (or 'cylinders') to operate the ship. Normally, the ship would carry say 24 crystal spark plugs - one operating crystal and one 'backup' which would be switched out and go in the 'charge banks' from 'AF.' Sometimes ('Mudd's Women' for example) crystals would burn out and the ship simply ran out of backup crystals and had to operate on the four. The 'power converter' unit in the engine room floor could be a later addition to do with directly tapping engine reactor power, rather than having the 'Alternative Factor' style banks, and would add one crystal to the overall number required.

    Thoughts?
     
  8. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    Prehaps the room in the Alternative Factor is indeed a recrystallization/regeneration room, but the technology of the time didn't allow much in the way of regeneration. Very minimal, more of a stress-relief/annealing process than true regeneration. Grinding-mills/cutters/polishers were employed to cut away the damaged portions of the crystal, there would come a point where the crystal would be too small to be used in the engine and replacements would have to be located.

    The technique in Voyage Home was remarkable because it more or less revived completely fubar'd crystals, and it was done using crude hand-tools out in the field.

    This was later refined between Voyage Home and TNG, to the point where crystals seldom needed to be replaced anymore because it was possible to rejuvinate the crystal right in the core, and unless the crystal developed a severe fracture there was no need to even open the core for long periods of time.
     
  9. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I was thinking of 'The Voyage Home' right as I was finishing writing that and realizing that such technology might seem too much. I much prefer your idea, I think even to my own of having it be the energy siphon/converter (analogous to the later EPS taps.) I like your idea especially since 'The Alternative Factor' doesn't seem to indicate that those crystals are important to the ship's operating ability.
     
  10. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    So.

    We have a V-Block arrangement behind the grill, we'll say a big-ass V-12 engine. 12 small matter-antimatter reaction assemblies each with a crystal in it. They generate the plasma and that is pumped out to the nacelles.

    Later, another reaction assembly is added in the engine-room as a prototype. This is needed because changing technology (shield upgrades, new weapons, bigger computers) require more power.

    Also, we have crude one-shot matter-antimatter reactors up in the nacelles as a "return home" mode if the main reactors are fubar'd.


    I could see the Connie as being patchwork like this twords the end of the Five-Year Mission, as operational requirements change new and different modules are added, the engineers add and subtract equipment as field conditions warrant and as things get refined/invented out in the field.

    When the ship got home, it was reset to a "zero configuration" through a massive overhaul.

    ..and the process repeated itself out in the field again even as a "training ship." When she came home for the last time in TSFS, the cost of resetting the design again in addition to the repairs needed outweigh any possible value, so the ship was slated to be replaced with a totally new build.
     
  11. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well they obviously did upgrade it a little since the engine room now has that dilithium crystal pedestal thing that later killed Spock. I presume that's just an upgraded version of the dilithium chamber thing in the TOS Enterprise.

    Actually, I would tend to think the TOS ship DID have its main reactors in the warp nacelles; the stuff behind the grillework is for power conversion. The extra reaction chamber was probably added as an APU to boost ship's power if the warp engines were strained from propulsive purposes or if the deflectors needed more power; to a point, I would even go so far as to theorize that those modifications may have been made specifically in preparation for the theft of the cloaking device in Enterprise Incident, since in that episode we see Enterprise escaping from the Romulans at Warp 9.

    TMP might have switched to a centralized power distribution system--the intermix chamber--with an APU at the bottom of the shaft providing power to the impulse engines and whatever else was needed.

    The Excelsior probably was the first ship to use a "warp core" power plant, judging by the design of its nacelles IMO. I'd bet the actual warp reactor was housed in that bulge thing at the base of the nacelle pylons with a power distribution system (some kind of intermix chamber) elsewhere in the engineering hull. As for why they switched to a central power plant, no one can be totally sure, except that perhaps the machinery for transwarp drive (what eventually become the conventional warp drive of the Ambassador and Galaxy class ships) was too bulky and required the entire length of the nacelle in order to function properly.
     
  12. Vanyel

    Vanyel The Imperious Leader Premium Member

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    Most likely, there is no real reason why there couldn't be a warp core in each nacelle. However, I would think that a warp core in each nacelle would give the ship two (or more, depending on the ship's number of nacelles) ship destroying bombs that are very exposed. On a few occasions (Voyager's Equinox comes to mind) a good hit to the nacelle can cause the loss of drive plasma. If a warp engine is there, such a hit could cause a breech with no time to even think of ejecting the core.

    Nacelles are a prime target for enemy fire. Knock one out and you know the ship can't outrun you to safety. If a warp core is there, you knock out the nacelle and the ship goes BOOM!

    And, if the core in each nacelle is not powerful enough or doesn't have the antimatter storage in it to destroy the ship, what ever antimatter is there, could cause severe damage, perhaps even irreparable damage.
     
  13. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The "movement" is done by pushing or helping the plasma along via magnetic fields, much in the same way antimatter containment is done. That's why magnetic contrictors are in the plasma conduits. And i wasn't saying the warp core itself "pumps" (for lack of a better word) the plasma, but if you look at the plasma conduits themselvs you can see the lights moving towards the nacelles in the show. That pillar wasn't gas, it was drive plasma. If it wasn't then calling those devices plasma injectors is a really poor choice of name. Plasma isn't a gas or a liquid, it's a category. And if I recall correctly, plasma itself has it's own gravitational flux's (The Science of Star Trek, book, read it it's really interesting.)

    And there isn't "movement" per se of the plasma in the seen with Troi standing where the plasma is being injected, it's merely following the path through the nacelles, probably guided someho by a component of the nacelle or warp coils. But my point is that the super heated plasma has to get there SOMEhow...via the magnetic fields that line the plasma conduits. without those the plasma would melt through the conduits anyhow. Also, the nacelles dont CONSUME the plasma, but merely convert it into another form of energy which thus creates the subspace fields. I know plasma is only vented in emergencies or if the nacelle was hit, but that's because there is always plasma in the nacelles for the use of conversion and creation of subspace fields.
     
  14. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That is absolutely the best argument against having the warp reactors in the nacelles. They are out there as a target. If a warp nacelle is hit, then yes it causes damage. But because the warp cores are inside the secondary hull and protected, they are harder to target. So you don't have the whole ship go boom in one single shot, and you don't put all your eggs in one basket so to speak.


    And on a side note, i LOOOOOOOVE that addams family values reference. that was and is one of my favorite lines from a movie EVER. LMAO.
     
  15. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I always wondered about the Constitution not having a warp core. Truthfully, at that stage much of trek tech wasn't established and was pretty shaky, so I tend to fit TOS tech with 24th century tech to make sense of it.

    Personally, I think that TOS was before a centralized reaction chamber, and I see it as more of a engine room in general. Probably the crystals were pumped with the ma/ama, then that energy/plasma was pumped into the tubing behind the screen where it was further modified before entering the warp nacelles. That would make sense in terms of a transition to a warp core because the warp core takes up less space and does the same job assumably.

    Either that or the warp core was below Engineering. But I doubt that and prefer the above explanation.
     
  16. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As I mentioned earlier, what's true of a nacelle reactor is equally true of a warp core. If the bad guys know what to shoot for anyway--and more importantly, if your shields are down--then it doesn't really matter where your warp core is because the bad guys are going to hit it anyway (as they did in Yesterday's Enterprise and Generations, and the constant "They're targeting our warp core!" exclamations throughout Enterprise).

    The thing is, if the reactor core is in the nacelle, then there's only as much antimatter IN the core as is needed for the reaction at any given time. If something goes wrong, all you have to do is cut off the fuel supply and the reactor does (like navy pilots having to quickly kill an engine that catches fire; if they don't kill it fast enough, the engine could explode, or the fire will get to the fuel tank and the whole plane goes up). If all else fails, you could simply jetison the nacelle or design a ship whose nacelles will pop off automatically if something goes wrong with their cores.

    This, if you think about it, is much less of a problem for a nacelle than it is for a reactor core in the middle of your hull. If the nacelle blows, it's not so close to all the primary systems that the ship won't survive.
     
  17. Vanyel

    Vanyel The Imperious Leader Premium Member

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    True enough. However, the ships hull and a few decks do seem to offer a bit more protection. As shown on screen, most attacks that are directed at he engines of a starship, Federation or other, usually result in the ship losing war power. Only after a bit more pounding does it go Boom!

     
  18. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, the secondary hull is a much better tactical location, because a few meters of atmosphere will stop that 10MT explosion dead in its tracks! "Good thing the disruptor hit the arboretum first! Those trees saved the warp core!"
     
  19. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    no matter where the warp core is, if it explodes, you die. period.

    BUT

    If it's embedded inside meters and meters inside a hull, rather than in an exposed nacelle, it's a little more difficult to target. For example, an enemy ship targets the warp core...if it's in the nacelles, then no matter which way you turn, dorsal, ventral, starboard, port, shimmy shimmy coa-coa puff, they nacelles are always out there and targetable. But if the only place you target the warp core is the ventral fill and ejection hatches, a ship can manuver in such a way that the target will be much more difficult to maintain. They do say they're targeting the warp core muchly, however we never know what the actual ease of accomplishing such a feat is. My guess is it's harder than it looks.

    I just don't see the reason for putting warp cores inside nacelles when they are already jam-packed with stuff and their obvious targets. However, I do like the idea of a ship being powered by numerous smaller warp cores, that makes a TON of sense, and is a very good idea. Or at least have a couple spares like the Intrepid class has. And I SERIOUSLY doubt that a warp core explosion is only ten megatons. A teaspoon of each exploding would destroy an entire city and is pretty equivilant to 30 or so external fuel tanks of current day space shuttles exploding at one time. A single photon torpedo at full payload would decimate a planet and blow the atmosphere off, so a whole warp core would probabaly be sufficient enough to blow a chunk off a planet. Or at least obliterate the moon.

    And as far as the core exploding in the nacelle being less of a problem, i think it would be a bigger problem, because now are you not only out of a warp core, but you're out of a nacelle too. And the warp core power is also connected to the EPS grid, so any explosion would travel through the grid and do serious damage. And as stated above, that type of explosion would likely obliterate the ship no matter where it is.
     
  20. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And, as I said before, there's an inherent absurdity that when you're targeting something that is thousands of kilometers away, that a difference of a few dozen meters in your targeting is realistically possible, visually, for ships moving faster than light. If anything, enemy ships are already targeting your warp core, since that's more than likely what their FTL sensors are picking up.

    And, as I said, a few meters of deck isn't going to do much to stop a disruptor once those shields are down.
     
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