Posts Tagged ‘warp reactor’


My geekiest post ever

November 20, 2009

Warning:  This will undoubtedly be my dorkiest post ever.  It is going to be on the engine room of the new Star Trek movie.  Still with me? OK, here we go!

It may not be as futuristic as a warp drive, but it's a hell of a lot more efficient!

I love the new star trek movie, especially how they portray the engine room.  All the other Star Trek engine rooms are very sleek and only show the warp reactor and associated equipment.  Apparently, the guys who design starships would have us believe that all systems are powered directly via the warp reactor but this really doesn’t make much sense once you think about it.  Now, I understand that the matter/antimatter reactor generates electro-plasma which is then transferred throughout the ship via the EPS system and ultimately ejected from the warp nacelles in order to generate and maintain a stable warp field (who doesn’t!) but why on earth would you rely on something as energetic and unstable as electro-plasma to run your low energy / secondary systems?  It’s like putting jet fuel into your Subaru, it’s just too much energy for the car to handle!  Take for example the doors that open and close automatically.  We have those today and they don’t require electro-plasma to operate, just good old fashion 120 volt count electricity!  So why not design your starship so that you don’t have to worry about getting your ass fried every time that door near you explodes because it’s relying on super energetic electro-plasma to run!  This is where the new engine room really earns its keep.  The new engine room shows that in addition to the warp reactor being used to power the warp drive, weapons, transporters, and other high energy equipment, it clearly relies on good old fashion steam technology to generate electricity for the secondary systems, thereby saving precious antimatter and making good use of the massive amount of latent heat generated by the reactor.  Basically, it works exactly like a nuclear reactor works today:  All those water pipes and tanks (the ones Scotty got stuck in) are part of a closed loop reactor layout.  The heat generated by the reactor is transferred via a heat exchanger to the water running through the primary feed loop which is then run through a condenser to turn the heated steam into superheated steam (steam that is heated beyond its saturation point) which is then run through a turbine which is attached to a generator to generate electricity for low energy systems.  This has the major benefit of relieving the strain on the reactor to generate all the power for the entire ship as well as reducing the amount of electro plasma running throughout the ship.  All that’s missing is the secondary cooling loop, but since all the excess energy generated by the reactor takes the form of electro-plasma, there is no need for a cooling loop, which is good news because it would be really hard to find a renewable source of cold water in space.  (I imagine they would simply run some sort of fluid through a pipe that runs along the outside of the hull, thereby releasing any residual heat into space, but those are minor details).  So there it is, one more reason to love the new Star Trek movie.  In addition to a great story, awesome acting, and an incredible soundtrack, the producers also took the time to reduce the amount of electro plasma flowing throughout the ship, thereby reducing the risk to the crew of hideously disfiguring and unbearably painful plasma burns.     

p.s. – apparenlty the engine room scenes were filmed in a brewery, so in addition to being able to travel faster than light the Enterprise doubles as a tasty micro brew!  To bodly go where no one has brewed before…