Author Topic: Fusion Support Vehicles  (Read 926 times)

Goose

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Fusion Support Vehicles
« on: 16 December 2023, 21:03:41 »
Part of Gooses List of UnThings :laugh:

I know it costs money, if only in absolute terms, but how is it not Peak Economic Eccentricity efficiency?

I mean: NonCombat means low cost, and Fusion has real low upkeep; What's not to like? :huh:
Goose
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #1 on: 16 December 2023, 21:32:55 »
Initial Acquisition Costs, Maintenance, and Availability

Fusion is more expensive upfront (and can get more so if you end up in a bidding war), requires presumably more skilled (and thus highly compensated or in demand) personnel, and there is always the chance that there is just no availability to purchase at all (or someone finds out you have and wants to take it from you).

Efficiency requires use and numbers. Do you intend to use this vehicle enough that you can one afford to lose it in battle or that you can get that elusive efficiency as opposed to just mothballing cheap and built on world ICE vehicles and putting them in a bunker or field somewhere.

idea weenie

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #2 on: 16 December 2023, 23:13:55 »
A fusion-powered vehicle can produce hydrogen fuel every day as long as it has access to water.  It can also provide the power for a field base, recharge local batteries, etc.

So depending on fuel usage of accompanying vehicles, a fusion-powered vehicle supporting the rest of the logistics train can be fairly independent of supply lines.
From Campaign Operations page 202 (MSR&C -> Repair & Replacement -> Obtaining Replacement Parts -> Fuel) a solar, fission, or fusion-powered vehicle can produce 10 tons of fuel per Maintenance/Repair Cycle if local fluid is available.  From page 188 this is a time period of 8 hours.

Even an infantry unit can benefit.  Campaign Operations page 24 (Stage 4 Determine Operating Expenses -> Step 1 Complete the TO&E -> Ammunition -> 3rd paragraph -> 4th sentence): if the infantry are armed with non-plasma energy weapons their ammunition costs are divided by 10 as the reactor can provide the power and only worn/damaged power packs need replacing.

(I basically searched for 'fission' in Campaign Operations, Strategic Operations, and Tactical Operations, and selected the ones that listed how much hydrogen fuel was generated.  I didn't want to search for 'fusion' in those books and have to click 'next' over and over.  I do remember a reference to a fission or fusion plant producing a quarter or half ton of fuel per day, but don't remember where that is from off-hand.)

The key problem is disguising it as something boring so the enemy is less likely to shoot at it.  One idea would be to make it identical to the supply vehicles your logistics train already has in large numbers.  The key problem would be figuring out a way to disguise the heavier power cables coming from it.  A water supply to be converted into hydrogen fuel would be handled by an onboard tank of water so the water only has to be transferred once per day (vs power being needed 24/7 when the logistics train is stopped).

You will need the specialists to handle the fusion reactor, and that is where your primary issues might happen, making sure your specialists don't decide to retire and get a comfy civilian job.  One idea could be mandatory longer service terms, or a bonus to be paid out only if they complete their initial service term, or higher paychecks for critical skills, or whatever other option would work.

It also means you expect to be using this vehicle often enough.  If the planet isn't raided that often then ICE vehicles with pre-staged fuel depots might be practical.  But if you expect to be away from bases and still need fuel/energy supplies then a fusion-powered vehicle would certainly help.  Heck, even a fission-powered vehicle might work.

Perhaps a Disaster Aid vehicle?  A hurricane hits a city and takes out the incoming power grid, so you need help.  This vehicle arrives first, hooks up to the local power grid, and now you have a power supply.  Not as many people are going to be shooting at it, it will be surrounded by people keeping an eye on it, and it will keep on providing power off a very small fuel supply.  As an example, Miami uses ~1.2 GW.  You'd have the vehicle pop out first, and activate the local spaceport and nearby hospitals.  The spaceport cleans itself up and a Dropship then arrives to power the rest of the city.  The spaceport would likely have power connections to the main power grid for just such an occasion.

Liam's Ghost

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #3 on: 16 December 2023, 23:25:04 »
Depends on the use and the tech level.

For very small support vehicles like jeeps or small trucks or civilian cars, other power plants are more efficient in terms of mass. At tech level C fusion is basically right out for anything small, and at higher techs I think the vehicle has to be around one and a half or two tons before fusion engines pull ahead.

So even if you're using a mostly fusion powered force, your smaller vehicles may as well be battery or fuel cell powered. Bonus points if you're using your existing fusion units to charge/refuel the smaller vehicles.

Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

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PuppyLikesLaserPointers

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #4 on: 17 December 2023, 01:41:02 »
The size would be an another possible issue. You can make a plate sized mobility device using either ICE and/or electronics on our era, but fusion engine tend to be big and it is very hard to make it too small. Battletech universe is yet to develop the fusion engine small enough to be put on a man sized battle armor, if I remember correctly - or perhaps it exists but maybe it isn't either powerful/economical enough to run a battle armor? The clans does have the technology to make a fusion engine small enough for a protomech, though.

So maybe a standard 4/5 seater car with fusion engine would be feasible, but I wonder that smaller than that would be eligible for the fusion engine. But is there any mentions for its minimum size? At least on Techmanual?

Liam's Ghost

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #5 on: 17 December 2023, 01:59:35 »
The size would be an another possible issue. You can make a plate sized mobility device using either ICE and/or electronics on our era, but fusion engine tend to be big and it is very hard to make it too small. Battletech universe is yet to develop the fusion engine small enough to be put on a man sized battle armor, if I remember correctly - or perhaps it exists but maybe it isn't either powerful/economical enough to run a battle armor? The clans does have the technology to make a fusion engine small enough for a protomech, though.

So maybe a standard 4/5 seater car with fusion engine would be feasible, but I wonder that smaller than that would be eligible for the fusion engine. But is there any mentions for its minimum size? At least on Techmanual?

Support fusion engines of tech level C have a minimum mass of 5 tons. Tech level D and higher drops it to 250 kilograms. A typical Jeep or civilian car will either have to give up on performance or capacity to use a fusion engine, or just be bigger than typical. Honestly, unless you need the long operating range or want the prestige, you're better off with battery or fuel cell power on the small end, even if fusion power is widespread.

On battle armor fusion engines, the clans did create one that technically worked, but it was insufficiently shielded to be safe to use in combat. As in, a hit to a suit left only legs behind. So 250 kilograms is probably what we would call the minimum safe amount of reactor shielding.
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

(indirect accessory to the) Slayer of Monitors!

PuppyLikesLaserPointers

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #6 on: 17 December 2023, 02:29:07 »
Support fusion engines of tech level C have a minimum mass of 5 tons. Tech level D and higher drops it to 250 kilograms. A typical Jeep or civilian car will either have to give up on performance or capacity to use a fusion engine, or just be bigger than typical. Honestly, unless you need the long operating range or want the prestige, you're better off with battery or fuel cell power on the small end, even if fusion power is widespread.

On battle armor fusion engines, the clans did create one that technically worked, but it was insufficiently shielded to be safe to use in combat. As in, a hit to a suit left only legs behind. So 250 kilograms is probably what we would call the minimum safe amount of reactor shielding.

Yeah. I did aware that 250kg is the minimum weight(it is also the minimum for the support vehicle as well) and an elemental could bear that much weight without problem as well. But what you show really answers the question, for it would be obvious that put it on the battle armor would result such problem because battle armor have almost no way to put the engine inside of the most shielded part for that is reserved for the soldier within, and the soldier is either fried by the enemy fire or the radiation within, else maybe both. For battle armor the size of the engine would be really matters.

Daryk

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #7 on: 17 December 2023, 04:39:27 »
Despite my best efforts, the AToW Fusion Recharger (page 307) is still only 40 kg.

And I think that Campaign Operations page 188 reference can be read as a "Maintenance Cycle" is one day, not just eight hours.

BATTLEMASTER

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #8 on: 09 January 2024, 07:44:33 »
The key problem is disguising it as something boring so the enemy is less likely to shoot at it.  One idea would be to make it identical to the supply vehicles your logistics train already has in large numbers.  The key problem would be figuring out a way to disguise the heavier power cables coming from it.  A water supply to be converted into hydrogen fuel would be handled by an onboard tank of water so the water only has to be transferred once per day (vs power being needed 24/7 when the logistics train is stopped).

For awhile the US military had stake pockets on all their big trucks to disguise them all as cargo trucks with the tarps mounted.  The wreckers, tankers and vans had them.

I'd suggest using a van body or something that looks like a SEORTM with tarps deployed for concealing charging apparatus for power packs.
« Last Edit: 09 January 2024, 18:05:08 by BATTLEMASTER »
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Hellraiser

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #9 on: 09 January 2024, 13:56:51 »
I know it costs money, if only in absolute terms, but how is it not Peak Economic Eccentricity efficiency?

I mean: NonCombat means low cost, and Fusion has real low upkeep; What's not to like? :huh:

The Fusion Engine tech that you have to pay & train & all the extra tool kits that they will need.

Electrical Vees sure, you can charge them from a small # of fusion engines that need those experienced techs.

But having techs for every single vee?

No thanks.
« Last Edit: 09 January 2024, 21:22:12 by Hellraiser »
3041: General Lance Hawkins: The Equalizers
3053: Star Colonel Rexor Kerensky: The Silver Wolves

"I don't shoot Urbanmechs, I walk up, stomp on their foot, wait for the head to pop open & drop in a hand grenade (or Elemental)" - Joel47
Against mechs, infantry have two options: Run screaming from Godzilla, or giggle under your breath as the arrogant fools blunder into your trap. - Weirdo

Retry

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #10 on: 09 January 2024, 16:50:38 »
Depends on a lot of things.  Are you defending or attacking, what does your local technology level readily support (mostly important for defense since if you're attacking you at least have Jumpships, Dropships and Mechs, and obviously fusion engines too).  I have to note though, if you're operating your own Battlemechs, the cost difference between adding fusion-based support and ICE, FCE, or battery support vehicles is quite small compared to the extra capability.  If you own your own Dropships too then I've honestly found fusion support vehicles to be a no-brainer.

We've had a group fail one of their objectives in a campaign because they outran their battery-based supply chain; the battery vehicles had the speed to keep up but they'd have run out of energy since the 'Mechs were chasing something.  They were really close but they ran dangerously low on ammo during an engagement, so they had to fall back to reload, which gave the target enough time to escape.

In the same campaign, they were using a Battlemech's fusion engine to recharge the batteries of the logistics vehicles where they thought it was safe.  It was not safe.  OPFOR Thumper'd the group and blasted the group.  SV's got cratered, and honestly they were real lucky they didn't lose the Centurion too.

I think it was about that point that they collectively decided they'll spend just a bit more on their support vehicles to reduce the amount of chances of mucking up their operations in a preventable way.

Daryk

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #11 on: 09 January 2024, 18:47:17 »
It's all risk calculus... sounds like your players didn't fully appreciate the huge vulnerability having to concentrate your support vehicles to recharge brought...

Goose

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #12 on: 12 January 2024, 15:55:52 »
… having techs for every single vee? No thanks.
:undecided: You think you don't, as-is?
Goose
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Hellraiser

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Re: Fusion Support Vehicles
« Reply #13 on: 14 January 2024, 21:11:35 »
As I mentioned earlier in my post, Fusion Engine Tech is more training & expense than General Mechanics.

It's like saying I want to pay for every infantryman to go to Ranger school.

Sometimes, general training will get the job done.

I don't need every grunt to be a Para-Assault-Ranger-SEAL-Medic.

Most units are notoriously short on techs, especially those that are qualified to work on Hi-tech items (Fusion Engines, Mech Myomer, Gyroscopes, Aerospace Systems, etc etc)

Sometimes you just need guys that can do Tires, Lube, & Transmission Replacements on Humvees.  Etc etc.
3041: General Lance Hawkins: The Equalizers
3053: Star Colonel Rexor Kerensky: The Silver Wolves

"I don't shoot Urbanmechs, I walk up, stomp on their foot, wait for the head to pop open & drop in a hand grenade (or Elemental)" - Joel47
Against mechs, infantry have two options: Run screaming from Godzilla, or giggle under your breath as the arrogant fools blunder into your trap. - Weirdo

 

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