Dilithium Crystals and Nuclear Fusion - A Star Trek Reunion Story?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Robert Comsol, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Sep 10, 2012
    USS Berlin
    I’d like to think that I do have a soft spot for underdogs and two in Star Trek which I consider to be underdogs are the USS Grissom (aka Oberth Class vessels) and nuclear fusion power.

    It’s a little like everybody knows it’s there but many trekkers have not given it much consideration or reflection, IMHO or as far as I'm aware of it.

    When Star Trek III came to theaters the Trek press focused on the new Klingon Bird of Prey (after a screenplay gender change had turned the Romulans into Klingons) and the new USS Excelsior starship design but little or nothing was published on the USS Grissom (with its low NCC registry number and apparently detachable saucer section for First Contact landings, an improvement over the design of older ships that landed in their entirety like the USS Horizon).

    With nuclear fusion power it’s a similar story. Apparently, both matter-antimatter annihilation and the enigmatic dilithium crystals to help create the exotic “warp power” moved into the spotlight. Until TNG nobody seemed to really care about nuclear fusion in the context of Star Trek (except the H Bomb as an analogy to “The Doomsday Machine”) which is quite a shame: Without nuclear fusion there’d be no stars in the sky, no life on Earth and definitely no Star Trek to seek out new life and new civilizations.

    One thing our understanding of current science has definitely yielded is that the path to futuristic energy creation is clearly visible – unfortunately there are considerable technical (nuclear fusion) and economical (antimatter) obstacles in that path to overcome, and unfortunately the working principles of these futuristic energy creations have so far first been realized as their destructive counterparts, namely the Atom Bomb (nuclear fission) and the H(ydrogen) Bomb (nuclear fusion) – almost as if to prove that it is always easier to destroy than to create (definitely a human deficiency that will hopefully have been long overcome by the 23rd Century).

    While back in the 1960’s (and still today) a nuclear fusion reactor sounded like science fiction, it’s noteworthy that screenplay writer Samuel Anthony Peoples, a specialist for the Western genre, apparently did some scientific research before delivering the script for the second Star Trek pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.

    In its story the USS Enterprise needs to repair its damaged warp engines. Spock: “Recommendation one. There's a planet a few light days away from here. Delta Vega. It has a lithium cracking station. We may be able to adapt some of its power packs to our engines.”

    What the heck is a “lithium cracking station”? :wtf:

    What Samuel A. Peoples did here was nothing less than to suggest widespread nuclear fusion power use in the future of Star Trek.

    One of the favored reactants for nuclear fusion reactors is tritium (or hydrogen-3) but it is scarce. Thus the theoretical models for nuclear fusion reactors suggest to artificially “breed” tritium by using neutrons to “crack” lithium (itself almost a rare earth element and not only in that sense a suitable predecessor of dilithium…!) into tritium and helium-4. The inescapable beauty of the nuclear fusion concept: The nuclear fusion itself provides the neutron bombardment to breed the nuclear fusion fuel tritium which then produces new neutrons in the nuclear fusion and on and on and on…

    The other beauty of nuclear fusion in all science fiction scenarios: You can either use it as particle exhaust for your sublight engines (makes the Saturn V rocket thrust look like a bi-plane compared to a supersonic jet fighter) and/or energy for your exotic systems like shields, cloaking devices etc. and/or a terrible weapon if you were able to shoot its energetic ionized plasma (the Romulan ship from “Balance of Terror” would make a lot of practical sense if we were able to assume it’s essentially a nuclear fusion reactor traveling through space – painted like a giant bird of prey, of course).

    Possibly, the producers of Star Trek became aware at an early stage that in order to be propelled by a “space warp”, fusion energy wouldn’t do the job and switched to matter-antimatter energy instead – at the expense of nuclear fusion Samuel A. Peoples might have wanted to propagate (Kelso: “The main engines are gone, unless we can find some way to re-energise them.” Re-energising itself is the basic principle of a fusion reactor).

    Already in the second regular episode (“Mudd’s Women”) the commonly known ‘down-to-earth’ silver-white metal lithium had miraculously transformed into a transparent crystal with exotic properties to power the ship’s systems which was then consequently renamed “dilithium” as it apparently had nothing to do with the real lithium – except to be an important component in futuristic energy creation…

    Separated during birth (the topic is still fusion, not fission ;)) dilithium made quite a career in popular sci-fi culture while lithium was eventually forgotten and – worse – considered to have never been born in the context of Star Trek when debatable retroactive continuity activity tried to completely push it over the cliff and pretended there had always and only been dilithium from the start (I guess this explains my personal skepticism towards most retcon maneuvers in general).

    In this particular case, Samuel A. Peoples provided a science fact adding credibility to the universe of Star Trek, but instead his “lithium cracking station” (or "tritium breeding station") was ignored and - worse - considered to be a result of ignorance of the show’s producers and/or scriptwriters.

    Good news is that apparently nuclear fusion technology was still in widespread use during the dawn of Star Trek which may or may not have ramifications how to interpret a possible use of dilithium crystals with nuclear fusion energy.

    To be continued in the next season of Bob Comsol’s Treknological Treatises, stay tuned
  2. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Sep 10, 2012
    USS Berlin
    Part II

    While dilithium crystals were popular during TOS, they moved out of the spotlight during the movies (with the exception of the fourth one when Leonard Nimoy put these aboard a Klingon Bird of Prey) but had a comeback during TNG and the subsequent series.

    In the Star Trek universe 78 years had passed and dilithium crystals were again a crucial part of a ship’s warp power infrastructure, a component of the ship’s warp cores to be specific.

    While undoubtedly essential to achieve warp power in TOS, too, the exact role of dilithium crystals in the chain of power distribution or infrastructure of the TOS Enterprise remained somewhat inconclusive and everybody’s best guess.

    I recommend to consider the words of mirror universe Charles Tucker III in “In A Mirror, Darkly” who felt like a “steamboat” mechanic trying to figure out the working principle of an “interplanetary spacecraft” when he examined the technology of the TOS USS Defiant, interphased roughly a century back in time and into Star Trek’s mirror universe.

    It’s fair to assume that technology evolves over an extended time period, thus the TOS Enterprise’s use of dilithium crystals to power the warp drive may or should have been rather crude, complex and convoluted compared to the beautiful simplicity shown during the TNG era.

    The TOS Enterprise’s most basic auxilary or reserve power supply came from “batteries”.

    This was still the basic power supply of the Enterprise in Star Trek II after all other power systems had failed. It remained inconclusive whether these batteries were only meant to provide energy to the basic ship’s systems or also a means of ignition “to start” a starship.

    The TOS Writers Guide specified: “In case of total failure of all engine power sources, the vessel’s gravitational and life-support systems can be switched to battery power, with a full-load capacity of about one week.” (note there are multiple engine power “sources” next to batteries, not just one!)

    After the first three (di)lithium crystal “circuits” had gone in “Mudd’s Women” battery power was at least cut in to support the remaining fourth crystal (before this one ceased to function, too). Apparently battery power was sufficient to beam aboard Mudd’s Women and allow multiple transports (!) from and to the surface of Rigel 12.

    Obviously, the transporter system works fine just with battery power (as it did in Star Trek II to beam down to the Genesis Cave after Khan had crippled the Enterprise), provided you are in a low altitude orbit of only a few hundred miles or kilometers and not a few thousand.

    Additionally, the “batteries” seemed to play some role to power the impulse engines:

    Kirk: Position, fourteen hours out of Rigel 12. We're on auxiliary impulse engines. Fuel low, barely sufficient to achieve orbit over the planet. Lithium replacements are now imperative. … We're down to battery power, and we're low on that.
    Scott: It'll get us to Rigel 12, sir, but it'll be a shaky orbit.

    Apparently, “battery power” got them to Rigel 12. If the impulse engines were just ion rockets (i.e. you accelerate your exhaust particles by means of electricity) you’d need energy to accelerate the fuel and apparently there had been talk of “ion drive” during the initial preconception phase of Star Trek (to state you’ll need an exotic form of propulsion to achieve interstellar flight as “ion drive” wouldn’t do the job). Thus, battery power would play a role to keep you moving with a literal “ion drive”.

    However, back in July 1969 the inhabitants of Omaha state would have witnessed the crash of a rather large UFO. ;)

    Ion drives need the vacuum of space to function in the first place, in an electrically charged atmosphere they’d cease to work and relying only on impulse ion drive the USS Enterprise would most likely have crashed in “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” as the warp engines were inoperative (still amazing it didn’t that low in our atmosphere but that’s another story).

    One of the biggest setbacks of ion drives in sci-fi scenarios is that they only provide little thrust and their acceleration effect builds up gradually over a long period of time. If there’s one thing no ion drive, real or theoretical, can give you, it’s instant boost.

    In the first part of this treatise, I tried to show that nuclear fusion technology is in widespread use during the very beginning of TOS. Aboard a spaceship, nuclear fusion power would make sense to power the systems of a ship and to provide impulse thrust for sublight travel and/or maneuvering.

    Assuming “battery power” were a 23rd Century colloquialism for (nuclear) fusion power Scotty’s remark would make a lot of sense. The nuclear fusion reactors to power the systems would rely on the same reactants or fuel as the nuclear fusion impulse propulsion engines (suggested in TNG for the Enterprise-D, too).

    Thus the Enterprise in “Mudd’s Women” could have been running low both on fuel to power the essential systems and to propel the ship at sublight speeds. Kirk was facing a dilemma not to dissimilar from the “tri-lemma” the Romulan commander faced in “Balance of Terror”.
    Another strong hint for nuclear fusion impulse engines came from “Obsession” where Scotty tried to clean the impulse engines from radioactive residue, which “clean” ion drives do not produce.

    Apparently, since the nuclear fusion fuel (tritium and deuterium) is the same stuff you may need as matter for the matter-antimatter annihilation, their supplies must have been close to exhaustion at the end of “Mudd’s Women”.
    But thanks to the dilithium crystals enabling warp power, the warping of space probably enabled resupply of fresh matter (especially in a solar system) for both the nuclear fusion reactors and the matter-antimatter reactors of the Enterprise.

    According to “The Alternative Factor” and Kirk, the dilithium crystals are “the very heart of the power of my ship.” And, oddly enough, “without full crystal power, our orbit will begin to decay in ten hours.”
    You’d assume that if our International Space Station can maintain a low inclination orbit with 20th Century technology that a starship of the 23rd Century would even have lesser problems – unless the Enterprise had previously exhausted its fuel supplies (an untold story we’d like to hear?) and was in desperate need to “re-energize” (i.e. collect new fresh matter by warping space, something you apparently can’t do without dilithium?) or to use the dilithium crystals as sparking plugs to ignite the (off-line) fusion reactors.
    But then it would appear odd, that the Enterprise’s fusion reactors were off-line instead of stand-by, during “alert status at all battle stations”.

    In “The Naked Time” the Enterprise was orbiting a planet in the process of contraction and used warp power to compensate for the exotic gravity effect of Psi 2000. When they learned that Riley had switched off the warp engines they changed to impulse engines that had equally been switched off, until Scotty apparently managed put to these or the (unseen) RCS thrusters back to work but just enough to stabilize the deteriorating orbit and buy some time.

    In “Court-Martial” they deliberately shut down the impulse engines for the session abord the Enterprise, maintaining orbit by momentum with the hope of being done before their orbit decayed. As it turned out, Finney had sabotaged the “primary energy circuits” (necessary for impulse drive) but the transporter room was still usable. Eventually power “returned” so the “port impulse engines” could be “activated” (are those “primary energy circuits” the same as the “primary EPS relays” seen aboard the Defiant in “In A Mirror, Darkly”?).

    In “The Apple” the Enterprise was caught in a tractor beam, pulling the ship towards the planet. Because the antimatter was rendered inert, warp power was not available but the impulse engines seemed to work just fine. There was power to the phasers, the transporter had been rendered inoperative.

    And last but not least, the Excalbians converted the Enterprise into a matter-antimatter time bomb in “The Savage Curtain”, the ship in orbit relied entirely on “emergency battery power only”.

    In summary:

    Battery power is necessary for life support and artificial gravity (a concept that may have appeared to audiences of 1960’s to be even more exotic than warp drive). Battery power enables transporter beaming, albeit probably only in low inclination orbits. It does play some role in the use of the impulse engines (suggested my “Mudd’s Women”) and could be part of the “primary energy circuits” that are apparently necessary to (re)start the impulse engines.

    In Star Trek II the Enterprise would have been able to fire a few phaser shots at the Reliant, after battery power would have charged the phaser banks.
    In “The Doomsday-Machine” Scotty charged the phaser banks of the USS Constellation without warp power and obviously did the same in “The Apple” for the Enterprise.
    However, “Elaan of Troyius” suggests that without warp power you have to make a choice between either using deflector shields or phasers (talk about Scotty being an insubordinate brat at times, making decisions for the captain :D).

    In regard to TOS it remains inconclusive whether charging the phasers was (already then) possible through batteries or a different source of energy other than warp power.

    The fact that “battery power” apparently played a role in the continous operation of the impulse engines in “Mudd’s Women” and that it enabled transport beam capability could suggest “batteries” just to be a colloquialism for nuclear fusion reactors.

    However Star Trek II makes a clear distinction between “batteries” and “energizers”. Had these been one and the same thing “in-universe” why the distinction 15 years after the events of “Space Seed”?

    Alternately, “batteries” and “energizers” might be the same thing (i.e. nuclear fusion reactors), but then there would be a noticable difference on how to draw energy from a “battery” opposite on how to draw energy from an “energizer” to justify such a distinction.

    Obviously drawing energy from the “batteries” (to power the transporter room) does not require the use of dilithium crystals as evidenced in “Mudd’s Women”...

    This hint could enable us to solve the riddle of those enigmatic “energizers”.

    Continued in the next season of Bob Comsol's Treknological Treatises, stay tuned

    Feel free to comment. Have I overlooked dialogue evidence? Are alternate conclusions feasible? Did I take a wrong turn somewhere?

    This odd monologue of mine serves the purpose of writing down observations and attempt to draw correct and sensical conclusions from these observations. In my personal experience I've found it helpful to write down such observations and then look at what's been written to form a theory.
  3. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

    Aug 5, 2009
    North Wales
    This makes good reading - I particularly like the interpretation of the term "batteries" as Starfleet shorthand to mean "fusion reactors". It certainly helps to justify their enormous power output! Whatever their actual construction however, they are a step down from "auxillary power", as evidenced by the two distinct terms in TWOK. Would "auxillary" in this case be the secondary impulse reactors? (the ones that operate independently from the main intermix conduit)

    I would however also argue for the existence of some "emergancy batteries" which could provide power to heat, light, air but very little else. In other words, just enough to keep the crew alive in dire situations.
    These would be simple rechargeable power cells (like batteries today), but with no moving parts or complicated innards would be virtually indestructible (and non-interfereable), a true option of last resort.

    However, in most situations (as you detailed above) I think we are dealing with "fusion batteries".
  4. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

    Feb 26, 2010
    That is an interesting read as well.

    IMHO, I do think there are some differences or tiers in power generation systems.

    The main power generation system
    1. The Space Warp Engines via M/AM reactors in the nacelles
    2. The M/AM reactor in the engineering hull

    The secondary power generation system
    1. The impulse engines (fusion reactor? - "The Doomsday Machine")
    2. Auxiliary power (fusion reactors?)

    The emergency power generation system
    1. The batteries

    All those sources then plug into the "energizers" to be distributed to any system on the ship that can be energized aka powered. I think that:
    1. The crystals in TOS operate as a super buffer or capacitor that also has the side-effect of creating more matter-antimatter fuel.
    2. Without the crystals, the energizers would then have the power source energies just go through the bypass circuits. In other words, if the bypass circuits were not burnt out, the Enterprise could still fly at warp speeds and operate her equipment but at a much reduced power level (no buffering) and likely with the possibility of running out of matter-antimatter fuel (no regenerating.)

    On "Mudd's Women", this is just a more subtle interpretation with the missing line before Scotty's "it'll be a shaky orbit".

    From the dialogue, I read it as:
    1. We've been traveling on the auxiliary impulse engines for a while with the batteries supplementing power (which also explains why they're running low at the end since they've been using them for a while already).
    2. Prior to "pre-orbit" they ran out of impulse fuel or power and were running exclusively on batteries for the remainder of the episode until they get crystals.
    3. The batteries are powering "something" to put her in orbit and hold her there. It is likely the impulse engines or could be some other propulsion system.
    KIRK: Captain's log-- Stardate 1330.1. Position, fourteen hours out of Rigel 12. We're on auxiliary impulse engines. Fuel low, barely sufficient to achieve orbit over the planet.
    FARRELL: Preorbital course locked in, sir.
    KIRK: That's the last time I'm giving an order twice, gentlemen. We're down to battery power, and we're low on that.
    SCOTT: It'll get us to Rigel 12, sir, but it'll be a shaky orbit.

    Could then the phrase "auxiliary impulse" in "Mudd's Women" mean power to the impulse engines provided by auxiliary power and "emergency impulse" in "The Doomsday Machine" mean power to the impulse engines provided by emergency (or battery) power?

    We also have this bit from "Tomorrow is Yesterday" where Scotty is using impulse power ("a secondary system") to fly the ship in the atmosphere but were distinctly separate from auxiliaries (or auxiliary power systems?).
    SPOCK: Except for secondary systems, everything is out, sir. We're on impulse power only.
    KIRK: Auxiliaries?
    SPOCK: If Mister Scott is still with us, auxiliaries should be on momentarily.

    Also, a slightly puzzling piece, in "The Naked Time", there must be an untold reason why the impulse engines were ignored in favor of the warp engines to be turned on. From the dialogue, either warp or impulse engines could've saved them so does that mean:
    1. Impulse engines take even longer to bring up to power from a cold start than warp engines given that auxiliary power or possibly batteries could've powered the impulse engines?
  5. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Sep 10, 2012
    USS Berlin
    @ Mytran

    If I recall TWOK correctly Scotty says "just batteries. You'll have auxilary power in a few minutes". Since according to the red dots in the ship's schematic on the bridge, Reliant hit mulitiple spots on the Enterprise and might have severed several power conduits from the batteries, too, that required a manual fix before auxilary power (from the batteries) could be distributed to the systems in need of power. I'd like to think that "battery", "auxilary", "emergency" and "reserve" power are one and the same thing.

    The one thing that causes me headaches is Scotty's "battery power" remark in the context of the impulse drive in "Mudd's Women". If you have nuclear fusion reactors you'll only need to ignite them once. Since we've seen exotic force beams rendering the antimatter inert, we can't exclude the possibility force beams that would render a nuclear fusion reactor inert, thus you have to use the (extremely reliable as you suggested) batteries to "restart" or "re-ignite" a fusion reactor which is probably what had to be done in "The Naked Time" and "Court-Martial", not to mention you have to have one outrageously reliable energy source to keep the magnetic containment fields holding the antimatter intact.

    However, in "Mudd's Women" there was no such exotic event that either switched off the fusion reactors or forced them to do that (it would have been plain stupid). If "battery power" starts a nuclear fusion reactor or propulsion engine there is no need to keep draining the battery supplies once the "re-energizing" fusion process has been set in place. Frankly, I'd like to file Scotty's remark as yet another one in my secret list of "Scotsman Exaggerations" ("Look, I can make a fusion drive work with only battery power" Reminds me of the "cold fusion" hoax). ;)

    But then again, we also have to wonder if / why they didn't use the "secondary power systems" (i.e. fusion reactors) for transport down and up to Rigel 12. Could the lack of dilithium crystals have something to do with the secondary systems, too?

    It's apparently difficult to make a clear separation between "batteries" and "fusion reactors", especially if you assume that the energy required for the transporter system will at least require fusion power.

    @ blssdwlf

    I wholeheartedly agree with the basic power infrastructure: main power, secondary power, emergency power.

    It's the details I'm not entirely sure, yet. "Energizer" by definition suggests a device that supplies power. Apparently it's neither the "batteries" nor the "matter-antimatter reactors" of the Enterprise (i.e. why call it "batteries" when it is in fact the "energizers"?)

    Again, if these terms would hint a different power output ("battery" = fusion power without crystal conversion / "energizer" = fusion power with crystal conversion) we might be closer to a satisfactory answer but obviously I'm getting ahead of myself or part III of this treatise.

    The way I understood events in "The Naked Time", however exotic and far-fetched, they needed warp power to counteract these gravity effects of contracting Psi 2000 and impulse power would have only / did buy them time.

    That piece of dialogue from "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" you mentioned is very interesting. Apparently, impulse drive belongs to the "secondary systems" (if I recall correctly it is the "secondary drive") but then there are still these enigmatic "auxilaries".
    To avoid a crash the ship's computer apparently took over and channeled all the energy output (including fusion energy sent through dilithium crystals, I think I hear the TMP Enterprise knocking at the door) into the impulse engines. Only when the ship had managed "escape velocity" some energy was rerouted to the auxilary systems to power inertial dampers, life-support and artificial gravity that had been previously neglected and with good reason - the first priority was to avoid a planetfall crash at all costs.

  6. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Sep 10, 2012
    USS Berlin
    Just for the "fun" of it, I wondered what a "nuclear fusion reactor" TOS style might look like.

    I came across this webpage, which contains as hand drawing of a colliding beam fusion reactor (almost 1960's style) that reminds me of these large GNDN engine room props.

    Usually theoretical fusion reactors have either a ring shaped accelerator tube (tokamak) or are spherical in nature (i.e. several lasers in the inner skin of the sphere focus on one spot in the center to ignite the fuel). Maybe that could be a clue to these enigmatic soccer balls sitting on the TOS energizers from Season Two on? (and an explanation why these large GNDN props literally moved into the background or went missing)

  7. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

    Feb 26, 2010
    It is somewhat nebulous isn't it? I believe the difference is in the definition:
    Energizer: A person or thing that energizes

    verb (used with object)
    1.to give energy to; rouse into activity: to energize the spirit with brave words.
    2.to supply electrical current to or store electrical energy in.

    verb (used without object)
    3.to be in operation; put forth energy.

    World English Dictionary
    1. to have or cause to have energy; invigorate 2. (tr) to apply a source of electric current or electromotive force to (a circuit, field winding, etc)
    You'll notice that in the above definitions an energizer supplies or stores energy AND/OR applies that energy source to something else. This matches up with how they are portrayed (with the dilithium crystals) in TOS. The British also use this definition with for example fence energisers that include main power and battery power as energy sources :)

    However, an energizer by definition does not have to be the source of energy. Sources of energy are the matter-antimatter reactors, fusion reactors and batteries, IMO.

    I don't think so. Impulse was clearly an option to save them before the engines went cold.
    BRENT: Helm is not answering to control.
    KIRK: Warp us out of here.
    BRENT: No response from engines, sir.
    KIRK: Impulse power then. Blast us out of this orbit.
    BRENT: Impulse engines also dead, sir.
    SPOCK: Engine room, we need power!

    I think Scotty gets the credit here as he was the one that put the ship in orbit, not the automatic helm settings.
    SPOCK: Captain? Casualty reports indicate only minor injuries. Engineering reports warp engines non-operational. Mister Scott overrode the automatic helm setting and is holding us in orbit on impulse power.
    At that point, the auxiliaries were "on" but impulse power was still being built up as a few lines later they finally have enough power to achieve escape velocity...
    SPOCK: We are too low in the atmosphere to retain this orbit, Captain. Engineering reports we have sufficient impulse power to achieve escape velocity.
    As to what "Auxiliaries" are... Hmm, if the impulse engines at the beginning of the episode are running already to hold the ship in orbit and battery power is operational (life support, control of the impulse engines) but not the lights and other systems, then could the "auxiliaries" mean "auxiliary non-motive power" or additional fusion reactors that are normally offline?
  8. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Sep 10, 2012
    USS Berlin
    @ blssdwlf

    Flawless summary! However, I do believe that at one point in "The Naked Time" their orbit had deteriorated to a point where impulse engines would not have helped anymore and warp drive had become imperative.

    I had already written Part III of the treatise yesterday and the comments thus far suggest I've not yet gone completely crazy and that there wasn't an urging necessity to rewrite (on the contrary), so here it is:

    References to “energizers (US) / energisers (UK)” as a vital part in the power infrastructure of a starship of the 23rd Century are scarce at best (another Star Trek underdog?). Apparently, the only references made are in “The Alternative Factor”, “The Doomsday-Machine” and rather prominently in “The Wrath of Khan” (Star Trek II) according to Memory Alpha and my own research.

    The biggest problem is that “energizer” is an outrageous general description of any device that creates / supplies energy for another device to work with. In the case of Star Trek that description would equally apply for a battery, a nuclear fusion reactor and a matter-antimatter reactor.

    We can exclude that the producers of TOS had the battery brand name “Energizer” in mind when they came up with this term, because that brand name did not exist prior to 1980 (however, we cannot exclude the possibility that Energizer Holdings will have become an interstellar operating business by the 23rd Century...;)).

    Apparently, energizers are a vital component to supply rather large amounts of energy to the Enterprise’s systems. They can either (momentarily) cease to function by mechanical shock / damage (ST II, possibly “Doomsday-Machine”) or as a result of stress / overheating (possibly “Doomsday-Machine”). In the two events visualized, they ceased to function during the heat of battle.

    As the events and dialogue in “The Doomsday-Machine” suggest, failure of the main energizers results in the loss of
    a) shield power,
    b) instant (opposite to “charged”) phaser power and last but not least
    c) warp power.
    However, it does not affect impulse power, which again implies a clear distinction between “battery power” and “energizer power”:

    Spock: Sir, deflector shields are gone.
    Palmer (to Spock): Sir, Deck seven reports power failure in main energizers. Implementing emergency procedures. (another hit) Severe casualties reported on decks three and four. Damage control party sealing off inner hull rupture.
    Spock: It has ceased fire. We're being held in a tractor beam. We're being pulled inside, Commodore. You must veer off.
    Decker: Maintain phaser fire, helmsman.
    Spock: We have lost warp power. If we don't break the tractor beam within sixty seconds, we never will.
    Decker: Veer off.
    Spock: Emergency impulse power.

    This dialogue segment tells us that there are several “main energizers”.
    Where there are "main" energizers there also have to be secondary energizers, and there is a high probability that the “batteries” would qualify as the secondary energizers Scotty used to “by-pass the main energizer” in ST II to have improved phaser power (thanks to batteries they had impulse power and because of the Mutara Nebula’s properties shields would have been useless anyway).

    Additionally, it tells us that the main energizers are located on Deck 7, apparently a reference to Main Deck 7 (“Engineering Control Room”) in the saucer hull.

    The first use of the term “energizers” in ST II merits a comment:

    According to the ST II (DVD extended version) original on-set dialogue William Shatner said “stop engines” before delivering his speech to Captain Spock’s cadets.
    Curiously, most Star Trek fans would have properly understood that in naval parlance of the 23rd Century the order was to be interpreted as “bring ship to a halt”.
    The producers didn’t and during postproduction made Shatner redub his line to “stop energizers” which makes even lesser sense: You don’t switch of your vessel’s systems unless you’re a submarine that goes for silent running.

    We could regard this slip-of-the-tongue as what it is – a production error (unless there was so much energizer noise throughout the ship that Kirk felt it necessary to switch the energizers off so the cadets were able to hear his speech over the intercom...:D).

    Anyway, during its sneak attack on the Enterprise the Reliant fires at the port side of the engineering section (and the location of “Spock’s death chamber”) and one side effect, reported by Scotty is “main energizers out” or “main energizer is out” which forces the Enterprise to rely on battery power exclusively and deprives her of warp power (“We cannot escape on impulse!”).

    Later on, Spock goes into his “death chamber” to do repairs which re-enable the Enterprise to make use of its warp drive.

    As to how interprete the function of this (retro-fitted) room aboard the movie Enterprise has been the subject of this Trek BBS discussion. The conclusion to this thread with the decisive illustration, in a manner of speaking, happened here.

    Considering that both in “The Doomsday-Machine” and ST II the Enterprise lost its warp drive cabapility because of failure and/or damage to the “main energizer/s” it’s a safe conclusion that Spock did repair the “main energizer” to give the ship its warp drive capability back.

    And the original screenplay of ST II (revealed in Vonda McIntyre’s novelization of the film) is very specific on that, as originally, Kirk gave Scotty a clear order:

    "What's the damage, Scotty?" - "Admiral, I canna put the mains back on-line! The energizer's burst; if I try to gi' it to ye, 'twill go critical!" - "Scotty, we've got to have main power! Get in there and fix it!"
    (Apparently, in the final version of the film, Scotty was made to conveniently pass out, rather than being insubordinate – again, I should add).

    So it is the main energizer and its dilithium crystals that enable the Enterprise of the 23rd Century to have warp power.

    And while its therefore the “main energizer room” in ST II it also is the “dilithium crystal room” (Shane Johnson) or the “reactor room” (Mike Okuda), though the open question for now is “which” reactor...

    Haven’t we forgotten one “energizer” reference? Yes, there was this enigmatic room aboard the Enterprise in “The Alternative Factor” were dilithium crystals were “re-amplified” which is the issue of an ongoing debate, specifically how to correctly interpret the actual dialogue and draw conclusions from it.

    One school of thought (strongest advocate blssdwlf) suggests this room to be the original TOS main energizer before the main energizers with their dilithium crystal converter assemblies became an apparent feature on the engine room floors from the second season of TOS on. The author of the Memory Alpha article, mentioned at the beginning, has apparently adopted this interpretation.

    The other school of thought (strongest advocate Timo) suggests this room to be merely a regeneration place (rather the complete opposite) to restore the crystals and their capabilities. Timo said:

    “Lt. Masters was ordered to "reamplify" the "drained" crystals. She then proceeded to do something to them in a piece of machinery we had never seen before, and after she was finished, she ordered an "experimentation chamber" prepared. At that point, one of the Lazari stole two of the crystals being processed by the machinery; later, another Lazarus sabotaged this machinery, and Masters shouted that the "energizer" had shorted, and that there was fire in the "energizing circuit". And still the ship wasn't deprived of power!

    I would like to interpret this as Masters (not a regular engineer, but a never before seen blueshirt specialist!) performing an exceptional remedial operation on four of the crystals (or crystal arrays), one that requires taking them off the actual power loop, and using an "energizer" for that remedy. Other crystals held the ship's power system together in the meantime.”

    Possibly, using the same word (“energizer”) for a general power supply to regenerate an element that is part of a specific power supply with the same name (“main energizer”), invites unnecessary confusion (notice that no “main energizer” had been established prior to “The Alternative Factor” and “The Doomsday-Machine”. The term “energizer” at this production stage of TOS was as innocent and unclaimed and as general as possibly could be).

    On the other hand, the inevitable question then would be, where on Main Deck 7 (first season engineering control room) were these energizers and/or the dilithium crystals? The first season engine room was devoid of a floor structure suggesting a second or third season energizer casing.

    As we’ve seen in Part II of this treatise, battery power can supply energy to the transporter system, the phaser banks and the shield generators. The exotic energy output of the dilithium crystals not only powers the warp drive but also any of the three aforementioned. Do the batteries and the crystal energy output share the same power lines?

    If the answer is yes, then the (first season) crystals may have been in these power lines’ and/or conduits’ bigger segments that apparently provide energy to the transporter system in “The Enemy Within” or the (lower sensor dome) phaser in “Balance of Terror” (obscured by Angela Lisa).

    The engine room of the USS Constellation has the same GNDN power conduit in close proximity to the energizer casing and the retractable articulation frame with the crystal converter assembly seems the final step in this evolution towards easily accessible converter assemblies, where you can remove and replace dilithium crystals whenever necessary.

    Although we have seen, what the energizers do in the ship’s energy infrastructure and what happens when they fail, there apparently is a distinction between the source of the energy (“energizer”) and the amplification of this energy (“dilithium crystals”).

    A matter-antimatter reactor is a “reactor” and there are several TOS references to “reactors” which clearly suggests “energizer” to be something else. Previously, we’ve seen the distinction between “batteries” and “energizers”. It appears we are looking at one “engine power source” that’s neither the batteries nor the ship’s matter-antimatter reactors.

  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Hmh? The ship of that name in TOS probably had transporters, as the Iotians were familiar with the limitations of that technology. All nicely in line with ENT that shows transporters in regular use from the get-go...

    Actually, the effort was made to develop a family of lithium products: dilithium, trilithium, paralithium, the unnamed type that made "Threshold" possible... It would be rather natural to assume that "lithium crystal" is just the catchall name for all these types of lithium-containing crystal. For all we know, Kirk's frontier starship was of a "multifuel" or "flexifuel" type, accepting the inferior paralithium in a cinch.

    As for "lithium cracking", this need not refer to lithium being cracked (a process never really called by such a name in reality, as "cracking" is already reserved for a specific petrochemistry process). It might just as well refer to cracking taking place with the help of lithium. Remember that the place was visited by ore transports - and it would make very little sense to haul ore to this remote location from more central ones, but a lot to haul it to that location for refining and the eventual hauling of the end product to the distant civilization. Why haul in lithium ore for cracking, when lithium is actually fairly abundant everywhere (as long as we accept the ubiquity of Earth-like worlds)?

    To be sure, the ship's transporters only moved our trio of heroes to the Regula I station, across a pitiful few hundred meters. The station's transporters accomplished the further feat of reaching the Genesis Cave. But that already tells us that transporting without the power of a starship's warp core is not only possible in emergencies, but supposed to be regularly achieved by the station! It just leaves open the exact nature of the station's powerplant.

    Also, if impulse drive combines power from fusion and propellant from fusion exhausts, it is likely to consume onboard resources faster than warp drive - a curious fact indicated in "The Doomsday Machine" where sustained impulse maneuvering is a pressing problem for fuel reserves whereas warp maneuvering never ever was. Impulse movement might involve shooting out both waste helium and unfused deuterium, as the latter would be not just an available energy source but also the one available source for propellant mass (unless the ship carries a separate substance for propellant, which would be a bit silly - or unless impulse drive involves no Newtonian propellant exhaustion, which actually sounds rather likely).


    can be interpreted in yet another way if need be:

    Might be that the ship is moving on impulse power, or even on warp power (because the loss of the final crystal was never confirmed), but battery power is being used for all non-propulsive applications, including sensor sweeps / computations such as "locking preorbital courses". Without enough oomph for the sensors and computers, the course will be poorly calculated and will give a "shaky" orbit. :devil:

    This is, after all, the only time batteries might be directly associated with propulsion in Star Trek...


    Might be that the tapping of auxiliary power out of the impulse drive is an option, not an automatic thing. The engines can simply be used to move the ship at sublight, without switching on the power taps. Of course, the taps may be damaged, in which case it takes some effort to get the "auxiliaries" "on" even when the engines are running smoothly.

    As for the deeper meaning of "energizer", I'd go for the invigoration aspect. In "The Alternative Factor", the energizers are needed to restore dilithium crystals to working order after they are drained. This sounds like a very transient thing, a rare, emergency "vitamin shot" involving a special piece of machinery. After the "vitamin shot" is over, the crystals apparently are to be taken out of the machinery and will need no further energizing; they have returned to their normal state of not being drained.

    Doesn't sound that they would be the main energy source (or the main energy storage medium) of the ship, be they energized or not. Energy is still available, and is being pumped into the crystals from the energizer - clearly, it's not a case of the ship having lost its fundamental stores of energy. But properly energized dilithium crystals appear vital for getting the energy from its mysterious stores into the various applications, here and in ST2:TWoK. The procedure in "The Alternative Factor" shows that the energies of "energizing" are just a fraction of the energies actually in storage. The situation appears analogous to that of transistors, then: small energies control large energies. And having dilithium as the "semiconductor gate" of a transistor-analogue is not all that different from what dilithium does in TNG and ENT.

    Naturally, it would be nice to have "online energizing" where you don't need to yank out the crystals if they happen to get drained. A "mains energizer" might be a device to meet that need, but your warp power will be locked out of reach if this device fails to keep the crystals in proper energized state for their role in channeling that power...

    Timo Saloniemi
  10. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

    May 27, 2011
    If I am to believe Braga, which I do, Enterprise apparently existed in a separate timeline created after events set in motion by the arrival of the Enterprise-E in 2063.

    The Iotians are highly intelligent and were able to connect the dots. Horizon didn't have transporters. Kirk stated to Bela that he would explain the concept of the transporter after he beamed down. Events on the planet's surface put a kibosh to that. However, they saw people beam down, they knew there was a ship up there, and they knew that the Fed might want to negotiate with the bosses to get their people back. I think their level of understanding would be about the same as ours, if placed in a similar situation. And, remember, these are the same people who described phasers as "heaters".

    The Republic had an atomic matter pile. This was the old name for a type of nuclear reactor. An example of this reactor was the Chicago Pile-1. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Pile-1]
  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Kirk also felt the need to explain "galaxies" and "lightspeed limits". It doesn't sound as if he had a good grasp of what the Iotians might or might not know.

    Yes, Iotians are smart. And probably technologically highly advanced, in order to kick up an imitation of prohibition-era Chicago out of "beginnings of industrialization". Everything they do or say is make-believe, including all the parts where they play dumb: it takes major smarts to plausibly imitate a dimwitted 1920s henchman!

    And torpedo was the old name for a bomb on a stick...

    I rather think that the very use of the term "atomic matter pile" in the episode is the best proof that it refers to something as completely unrelated to the Chicago experiment as the photon torpedo is to the primary weapon of the good old Hunley.

    Timo Saloniemi
  12. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 23, 2013
    This thread has certainly been fascinating reading so far, but I've never taken the science or continuity in STAR TREK too seriously. There is a scene in GALAXY QUEST where some fans are asking Nesmith (a parody of Shatner) about apparent continuity errors in the technology of the show. Nesmith has been having a bad day and brusquely tells the kids that there is no ship, it's all make-believe.

    Never expect techno-babble to make much sense, such as a line in STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME where a starship having lost all power will try deploying "solar sails" to generate enough power to maintain life support. Since we're talking about TOS, I'll point out a technical continuity error from "The Enemy Within." A handful of crewmen are trapped on a planet surface, and the transporter is out of order. Why weren't the men rescued with a shuttlecraft? Because it had not been "invented" yet by the show's creators. Again, I wouldn't lean too heavily on any particular circumstances or specific lines.

    It was pure speculation when Sir Arthur Eddington suggested that stars are balls of hydrogen continuously fusing under the pressure of gravity. An increasing abundance of observations conflict with this idea, but I don't want to detour the thread here. I can recommend other reading for anyone who is interested.

    I always assumed—as little thought I gave to the matter—that "dilithium" crystals were used to focus the matter-antimatter reaction, or perhaps act as a lasing medium. Murray Leinster's MINERS IN THE SKY describes an ultra-dense crystal that is the key to spaceflight. The crystals can be found only in the deep cores of planets, which are normally inaccessible. Thus, the adventure takes place in the rings of a Saturn-like planet where the hopeful miners prospect the broken rubble. Of course the novel does not explain the crystals in detail—only that running an electrical current through them produces thrust of some sort. (A similar drive, with no crystals, appears in the Leinster novel THE WAILING ASTEROID.) Good stuff... so long as one does not take it too seriously.
  13. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

    Feb 26, 2010
    Well, in addition to "Mudd's Women" using batteries to make and hold orbit, there is also "The Naked Time" where Scotty jury rigs power from presumably the batteries to allow the helm to stabilize the fall. At that time, the engines were shut completely down.

    The problem with the idea of it being a special machine that only does the re-amplification is the timing. If they are to be taken out of the machinery when the "vitamin shot" is complete, why are they in the machinery for the entire episode when the process was complete 1/3rd way into the episode?

    From "The Alternative Factor" - they're re-amped before the Lazari steal them.
    MASTERS: I know what you mean. Re-amplification finished on the dilithium crystals?
    ENGINEER: Yes. Ready and waiting.
    That's depends on what kind of load the ship's power system is under and how the crystals are removed, IMHO.

    1. In "Mudd's Women", the ship is at or above full power levels causing the crystals to *burn* out which is noticeable on the ship as the circuit fail-over to the remaining crystal circuit(s).
    2. In "The Paradise Syndrome" the ship is at full power, we see the removal of one crystal paddle was noticeable on the ship.
    3. But, in "The Alternative Factor", the ship wasn't under any major load while orbiting the planet so the orderly removal (not burnout) of some or all of the crystals would not and should not be noticeable, IMO.

    Do you think they had time to properly energize or amplify the crystal necklace used in "Elaan of Troyius"?

    Or alternatively, the crystals hold or buffer more energy than the power source itself since the bypass circuits to go around damaged crystals do not appear to be able to provide the same amount of energy that the crystals can.

    If we look at the BOP in "TVH" they were in danger of losing the crystals but still having an undamaged energizer bypass to it's power sources would still allow it to fly (but not break orbit). In "Mudd's Women", the loss of the crystal circuits doesn't mean the loss of the matter-antimatter engines but the loss of the bypass circuits effectively meant no M-AM power. If she had her bypass circuits, she'd probably still have some warp capability although not as fast, IMHO.

    Which I think is a difference TOS has between ENT/TNG. In TOS, you can bypass the crystals and still have some warp power. But in ENT and TNG you cannot.
  14. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

    Aug 5, 2009
    North Wales
    Bypassing the crystal setup may cause harmful emissions of radiation. 24th Century Health & Safety Regulations simply won't allow it!
  15. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Sep 10, 2012
    USS Berlin
    Thanks everyone for providing feedback. At this moment there is just one issue I'd like to get out of the way before it derails this thread:

    From the opening dialogue in "A Piece of the Action" we can safely conclude that the Horizon did land on Sigma Iotia one hundred years earlier:

    OXMYX [OC]: Hello, Captain. You're from the same outfit as the Horizon?
    KIRK: Yes. Unfortunately, the Horizon was lost with all hands shortly after leaving your planet. We only received her radio report last month.
    OXMYX [OC]: Last month? What are you talking about? The Horizon left here a hundred years ago.
    KIRK: Difficult to explain. We received a report a hundred years late because it was sent by conventional radio. Your system is on the outer reaches of the galaxy. They didn't have subspace communication in those days.
    OXMYX [OC]: Toward the edge of what?
    KIRK: I'll explain it in more detail when I see him. The ship won't land, but we'll transport several people down. Well, that's a little difficult for you to understand, too. I'll explain it in more detail when I see you. Where will be convenient?

    Kirk is preparing the second visit of the Federation on Sigma Iotia. He knows how the Horizon (or a sister ship) conducted First Contact business a century earlier and deals with the expectations of his contact, based (naturally) on the First Contact experience with the crew of the Horizon.

    To tell Oxmyx not to expect the ship to land (or a part of it the Horizon crew might have referred to as "ship") clearly indicates that the entire Horizon (or its spherical section) did land on Sigma Iotia (and they didn't use transporter technology, obviously).

    It's also ironic, that the lack of a visible ship having landed, makes the Iotians suspicious whether Kirk and officers are truly from outer space or merely (domestic) imposters! Apparently they didn't have these suspicions with the crew of the Horizon - because they saw the ship (or a part of it) having landed on their planet. ;)

  16. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 23, 2013
    I never thought about that—what a great point!

    KIRK: There are over four hundred guys there.
    KRAKO: That's your story, buster.
  17. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

    May 27, 2011
    The writer for "Court Martial" was using a term that was in common use in the 1960's. I illustrated what this term meant, for it's possible that this is what the writer envisioned when he wrote that episode.

    Per Balance of Terror, both sides in the Earth-Romulan War employed atomic weapons. The ships of the Romulan navy in the 2260s retained the warheads of these weapons for self-destruction. And, it is demonstrated in the episode, that a single warhead could threaten a Federation starship. The Enterprise destroyed the warhead, resulting in minor radiation burns for crew members who were working in the ship's outer areas. According to McCoy, the injuries could have been far worse if the warhead hit the ship.
  18. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Sep 10, 2012
    USS Berlin
    Since this is the 23rd Century with little need for petrochemistry I don't see why "cracking" shouldn't apply. Of course, "tritium breeding station" couldn't have been an alternate choice but then most viewers would have asked
    a) What is tritium?
    b) What is it good for?

    By going for "lithium cracking station" that skipped the first question and just left "What is it good for?".
    Furthermore people familiar with nuclear fission would have pointed out that tritium is a waste product of nuclear fission reactors so why even go through the hazzle of devoting a whole planet to the production of this waste product?
    Somebody familar with nuclear fusion would have understood that this planet produces nuclear fusion fuel and that dirty nuclear fission is rather outdated by that time (although other TOS screenwriters apparently felt differently, unfortunately).
    I see no contradiction that the "ore ships" transport the (rather rare) lithium to Delta Vega where it is converted to fill the "fuel bins" of Delta Vega.

    My whole point: Here we have the proof that nuclear fusion (at the good riddance of nuclear fission) is in widespread use during the beginning (!) of TOS. Why deprive ourselves of that opportunity and instead deal with these unconstructive hints towards nuclear fission? If you can master controlled matter-annihilation then controlled nuclear fusion would have been a discovery on that path of a believable technological evolution.

    Alternately, of course, we can assume that Delta Vega actually produced antimatter and that "lithium cracking station" was a cover to avoid unnecessary attention. ;)

    Yes, we've seen that "power failure in the main energizers" leads to loss of deflector shields, instant phaser power and warp power.

    DECKER: Mister Spock, status report.
    SPOCK: Warp drive and deflectors will be out for a solar day. Repairs proceeding on transporter and communications.
    SULU: It's closing with us again, sir.
    DECKER: Maintain speed and distance.
    SULU: It's sucking in space rubble from those destroyed planets. Refueling itself.
    SPOCK: We can maintain this speed for only seven hours before we exhaust our fuel, but it can refuel itself indefinitely.

    It would indeed appear they had to rely on "battery power" (i.e. pure nuclear fusion energy) for impulse drive where the use of the main energizers might have enabled them to turn that pure nuclear fusion energy into an "exotic" one providing greater thrust.

    Interesting: No reported (permanent) damage to the dilithium crystals but merely a temporary failure of the "main energizers" that seem to require one day to cool off and/or to be repaired. I can't help but feel that it looks a lot like what happened in ST II.
    However a clear indication that you need the "main energizers" to work with the dilithium crystals to produce warp power!

    I concur and there is another hint that "the energizer" (i.e. one energizer!) in "The Alternative Factor" only supplied the crystal regeneration drawers with energy.

    Lt. Palmer clearly refers to "main energizers" (i.e. more than one) that are probably those "power plants" Spock mentioned earlier in that episode.

    By the time of ST II they have apparently been able to reduce main (and secondary) energizers down to one.

    Nevertheless, I concur with blssdwlf's conclusion that dilithium crystals are able to release enormous burst of energy (mabe that's their amplification or oscillating effect?).

    In ST II the energizer is "out", yet when Spock removes the casing we see an obvious burst of energy, suggesting that was the energy stored by the crystals. ;)

  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Because the first Lazarus steals the re-energized ones, and the second one sabotages the machinery while stealing the next batch?

    It's not as if the thefts would be limited by the ability of the Lazari to carry just two crystal paddles; four could just as easily be pilfered. That just two are taken could easily mean that just two were done...

    Probably not a factor if it's "fresh"... And even if they aren't at peak efficiency, they are still better than no crystals or drained crystals.

    The need to use an energizer would be an extremely rare occurrence, as it would be almost unheard of for crystals to be drained. Normal operations might result in gradual drain; time travel would result in more rapid degradation; but only an entire universe hiccuping would create a crisis so severe that four or more dilithium paddles would need to be energized "from ground up".

    Quite so. Doesn't mean there would be any fundamental difference in the setup. The TNG one is simply more streamlined and reliant on things working smoothly - a common feature in the evolution of technology.

    He doesn't appear to know much about the Romulan War, though. Are we giving him too much credit?

    The argument about the Iotians being unconvinced about the size of Kirk's crew or starship is the more convincing one. But in contrast, we have the Archon from the same era, "pulled down from the skies" only after her crew had interacted with the people on the surface and sealed their fate - suggesting that landing an entire starship or a major section thereof was not a technological necessity for that era, merely an available option.

    Timo Saloniemi
  20. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

    Feb 26, 2010
    It's not how many they took but the status of the crystals and where they were taken from. The crystals were fully re-amped before Lazarus 1 stole the first pair. They were not indicated to be needing a re-amp again when the last pair were stolen. Why were they still in that energizer for almost the entire episode if all it can do according to you is re-amp when they should have been moved back to their normal power-providing location as soon as they were re-amped?

    I can agree with "no crystals" but I don't see any difference between "drained crystals" and these never been used before crystals. They still would be starting at a zero or low charge. If you mean that properly energize them to a minimum level so they can start to discharge like a lithium ion battery in a laptop then that would make sense.

    But in your description the crystals are *always* being drained. Small amount or large amount, it still means they are constantly being drained and requiring a "re-amp". But if we believe that the energizer in "The Alternative Factor" is the only way to "re-amp" the crystals then the crystals would be constantly carried back and forth between rooms on the slightest drain leaving them vulnerable during critical moments.

    Why can they not have the ability to re-amp/re-charge crystals in place rather than carry it to a dedicated machine?

    I disagree as they are fundamentally different.

    In TOS, the crystals are not necessary for the operation of the ship's engines as long as they have working bypass circuits.

    In ENT and TNG they are critical to the operation of the ship's engines as they regulate the matter-antimatter reaction.

    From "Bound"
    KELBY: The injectors feed into the dilithium chamber.
    D'NESH: That's where the matter and antimatter mix.
    KELBY: That's right.
    D'NESH: The crystals let you control the reaction.

    But that kind of gets back to the OP's topic.

    In TOS, crystals are not necessary for matter-antimatter reaction.
    In ENT and TNG, crystals are necessary for matter-antimatter reaction.

    So, do ALL the warp-capable shuttlecraft use dilithium crystals in them?

    Did the shuttle in "The Menagerie" that chased the Enterprise have crystals?

    Did "First Contact"'s Zephram Cochrane warp ship have dilithium crystals? Did it even use a matter-antimatter engine or was a fusion reactor it's power source enough to achieve warp speed?