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Author Topic: Fuel Cell vs ICE  (Read 3147 times)

The_Caveman

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #30 on: 18 January 2019, 09:34:56 »
After I saw this I tried to build a flying Hetzer (with a MRM 40 as the cheep-o big boomstick) in MegaMek Lab with a fuel cell. 
It turns out that conventional aircraft in Lab at least can't be given a fuel cell engine. 

I was wondering if this was in the rules anywhere or just an issue in Lab? 
Is it the range restriction on fuel cells that prevents you from powering a plane with them, even if you allocate extra tonnage for fuel?  Or is there some other catgirl killing reason that a fuel cell wouldn't work.

Fuel cells can only power prop-driven aircraft. They don't produce thrust directly like turbines and aero-fusion engines. You can't build a conventional fighter with props, but you can do it as a fixed-wing support vehicle.
Half the fun of BattleTech is the mental gymnastics required to scientifically rationalize design choices made decades ago entirely based on the Rule of Cool.

The other half is a first-turn AC/2 shot TAC to your gyro that causes your Atlas to fall and smash its own cockpit... wait, I said fun didn't I?

Colt Ward

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #31 on: 18 January 2019, 11:56:50 »
Colt, at the low tonnage end, even support forces are ultimately cheaper with fusion engines.  The 25 rated engine is extremely useful, and not that expensive.

Sure, but typically you are grabbing whatever trucks you can since they never get the production priority of actual combat machines.  Now something like the Davion Brigade of Guards, 1st FS Armored Cav, Lyran Royals, Sword of Light, and other elite commands may get all their vehicles to match up.  But the Ghost & Legion of Vega regiments?  They are likely seizing the trucks they need from militia units on planet or even businesses to meet their TO&E needs before boosting for a invasion- and taking more when they land to use.
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Atarlost

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #32 on: 18 January 2019, 13:15:14 »
After I saw this I tried to build a flying Hetzer (with a MRM 40 as the cheep-o big boomstick) in MegaMek Lab with a fuel cell. 
It turns out that conventional aircraft in Lab at least can't be given a fuel cell engine. 

I was wondering if this was in the rules anywhere or just an issue in Lab? 
Is it the range restriction on fuel cells that prevents you from powering a plane with them, even if you allocate extra tonnage for fuel?  Or is there some other catgirl killing reason that a fuel cell wouldn't work.

Fuel cells create electricity.  You can't power a jet engine with electricity.  Propellers or rotors can be powered by electricity but cannot reach the speeds of even conventional fighters.  You can't break the speed of sound with a propeller except possibly in a dive where it's gravity doing the work.  No catgirls, just actual physics and aerodynamics.  Thus, VTOLs can use fuel cells but conventional fighters cannot. 

The_Caveman

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #33 on: 18 January 2019, 14:03:42 »
You can't power a jet engine with electricity.

Not strictly true, as an electrically-driven compressor tied to an expanding nozzle is still a jet engine. But compared to a conventional gas turbine it would be heavy and inefficient. Or a gas turbine where the combustor was replaced with an electric heating element--but again, this would add dead weight and suck up lots of power for no real benefit.

It only makes sense with nuclear power, where there is abundant electrical power and lots of free waste heat to dump into the working fluid, and no significant fuel mass to worry about.

There's no technical reason you couldn't make a fuel cell-powered jet, you just wouldn't want to. It'd be the worst of both worlds.
Half the fun of BattleTech is the mental gymnastics required to scientifically rationalize design choices made decades ago entirely based on the Rule of Cool.

The other half is a first-turn AC/2 shot TAC to your gyro that causes your Atlas to fall and smash its own cockpit... wait, I said fun didn't I?

AdmiralObvious

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #34 on: 18 January 2019, 16:07:07 »
Not strictly true, as an electrically-driven compressor tied to an expanding nozzle is still a jet engine. But compared to a conventional gas turbine it would be heavy and inefficient. Or a gas turbine where the combustor was replaced with an electric heating element--but again, this would add dead weight and suck up lots of power for no real benefit.

It only makes sense with nuclear power, where there is abundant electrical power and lots of free waste heat to dump into the working fluid, and no significant fuel mass to worry about.

There's no technical reason you couldn't make a fuel cell-powered jet, you just wouldn't want to. It'd be the worst of both worlds.
I mean, if you have enough power, you can make a resistojet out of it. Its grossly inefficient, as you're basically burning a lightbulb to ignite (more) fuel, but even then you're better off just using your typical combustion reaction.
« Last Edit: 18 January 2019, 16:21:48 by AdmiralObvious »

Baldur Mekorig

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #35 on: 23 January 2019, 10:38:00 »
I was messing around in MegaMekLab and took advantage of Fuel Cell's big advantage over ICE to upgun a Vedette to sport an AC/10 and extra armor.

You can install a Gauss Rifle keeping the 5/8 movement and add some more armor in a Vedette with FCE. Scary.
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Colt Ward

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #36 on: 23 January 2019, 11:13:43 »
UAC/10, more & HFF, and put a SC . . . now THAT is a cav tank!
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Nebfer

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #37 on: 29 January 2019, 16:47:15 »
Range is another one. An ICE engine has fuel for 600km (20,000 hexes at cruising speed). A fuel cell has a lesser range of 450km (15,000 hexes) (TechManual pg. 68)
Thats for Battlemechs (well Industrialmechs)
IIRC the Errata for vehicle range states that the fuel tank is 10% of the engines mass, and follows support vehicle rules so 100km for an ICE is 1% of the engines mass, Fuel cell is 1.5%

So a ICE equipped tank has a range of 1,000km and Fuel cell 667km.
Though Industrial mechs it's as you state, 600km for ICE and 450km for fuel cell, an extra fuel tank is 10% of the engine and doubles the range (I.e. it adds an extra 600 or 450km of range).


As for the Topic at hand
IIRC Fuel cells are more expensive than ICE but are cheaper than Fusion, they also weigh less than fusion engine vehicles (which are also lighter than ICE), as such unless you want to use a lot of energy weapons or are worried about refueling, then Fuel cells are better then ICE or fusion engines. On the other hand the Light and XL Fusion engines are lighter than Fuel cells.

In short
ICE: Still good for extremely dirt cheap units, but pore on anything else
Fusion: Good for unlimited range or energy weapons, other wise inferior payload to Fuel cells
Light & XL Fusions: Have better payload than Fuel cells as well as being better for energy boats

Fat Guy

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #38 on: 29 January 2019, 23:05:49 »
More importantly why is any society more advanced than our own using ICEs over FCs?


Because by 3025 many worlds were less advanced than our own, not being able to manufacture anything above 80s level technology.
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MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #39 on: 29 January 2019, 23:14:08 »
Some worlds, especially in the Davion Outback and the Periphery, can't even properly be said to be industrialized.
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Jellico

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #40 on: 30 January 2019, 00:59:52 »
In which case they import.

Mobile phones are ubiquitous in Africa but they certainly don't make them there. Mr Scott was Scottish because Scottish steam engines were exported to every Victorian hell hole in the world in the 1800s.

I get that industrial levels may be low but in this case that is mostly about maintenance. These guys maintain nukes with gaffer tape and chewing gum. But the barrier to build any sort of engine is high and I am not sure that most will bother.

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #41 on: 30 January 2019, 03:19:27 »
Those places probably aren't going to have a lot of combat units beyond infantry in the first place.  It's not like there's much that's actually worth fighting over on any of them.
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Elmoth

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #42 on: 30 January 2019, 04:47:07 »
There is always something that might interest a raider. Not all fights are against invaders after all, but most are against raiders. There are raids for water in official sources after all. Beats me how that is relevant considering the tinny cargo capacity of dropships, and the fact that the raiders could simply *buy* a hundred thousand tons of water for a fraction of the cost of a single point of mech armor but hey. Water raids are there none the less and outback countries will have those for sure and other resources.

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #43 on: 30 January 2019, 09:14:32 »
Those places probably aren't going to have a lot of combat units beyond infantry in the first place.  It's not like there's much that's actually worth fighting over on any of them.

There’s probably always a demand for water purifying equipment and the like with pirates

The_Caveman

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #44 on: 30 January 2019, 22:03:36 »
I wish there were a long-lived radioisotope of oxygen. It would make the difficulty of water purification in BT so much more believable.

Much of the easily-available water could be heavily tritiated. Although with a half-life of just 12 years tritium is a short-term contaminant. There would need to be a radioactivity source constantly replenishing the tritium in order to make the water dangerous over long periods.

So that requires either cosmic rays or contamination by certain types of nuclear fallout.

The latter explanation strongly favors the "nuke everything anywhere near anything" view of the 1st and 2nd Succession Wars that the writers have recently shyed away from. Without heavy NBC contamination it's a lot harder to justify those water raids. Since a planet bathed in cosmic rays would be uninhabitable anyway.
Half the fun of BattleTech is the mental gymnastics required to scientifically rationalize design choices made decades ago entirely based on the Rule of Cool.

The other half is a first-turn AC/2 shot TAC to your gyro that causes your Atlas to fall and smash its own cockpit... wait, I said fun didn't I?

Fallen_Raven

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #45 on: 31 January 2019, 00:47:38 »
ICE is supposed to be a far more developed technology than Fuel Cells for military purposes. Military ICE is supposed to be able to run effectively on a variety of fuels, and be easily maintained in the field. Fuel Cells existed in the civilian market, but could never compete with Fusion for efficiency in military deployment. Much like Tripod mechs and superheavies, Fuel Cells are a technology that piddle around in the background for centuries because it never hit the critical mass of R&D to find its niche until after the disruptions of the Jihad made people re-evaluate the assumptions made during the Star League.
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Colt Ward

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #46 on: 31 January 2019, 11:46:30 »
I wish there were a long-lived radioisotope of oxygen. It would make the difficulty of water purification in BT so much more believable.

Much of the easily-available water could be heavily tritiated. Although with a half-life of just 12 years tritium is a short-term contaminant. There would need to be a radioactivity source constantly replenishing the tritium in order to make the water dangerous over long periods.

So that requires either cosmic rays or contamination by certain types of nuclear fallout.

The latter explanation strongly favors the "nuke everything anywhere near anything" view of the 1st and 2nd Succession Wars that the writers have recently shyed away from. Without heavy NBC contamination it's a lot harder to justify those water raids. Since a planet bathed in cosmic rays would be uninhabitable anyway.

Biological contamination that is part of the world's native biosphere but is persistent.  AFAIK only a few places in the world produce the fine filters for the best RO processes, most 'water purification' stuff just gets out the large contaminates, removes smells and relies on all the chlorine (or derivatives) that bleaches everything in the water to make it 'clean.'  In addition you have the degree of difference between industrial sized applications and personal applications for the RO.

Desal?  Huge plants and IMO would really should be used since the tech is simpler . . . but it will wear out as well.
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Kovax

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #47 on: 31 January 2019, 12:49:26 »
There’s probably always a demand for water purifying equipment and the like with pirates

Either that, or they know that a lot of planets will pay good money for such equipment, regardless of its source.

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #48 on: 31 January 2019, 13:13:21 »
Either that, or they know that a lot of planets will pay good money for such equipment, regardless of its source.

Triple expansion Steam Evaporation will usually get biologicals out, and it's low tech....just energy intensive.
Saying that because the equipment isn't up-to-the-minute, bleeding-edge tech therefore not a threat is like saying an M2 Browning isn't dangerous to modern infantry because it is 100 years old.

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #49 on: 31 January 2019, 13:19:25 »
What about going the other way.

Instead of having the water purifying equipment deal with pollution, imagine them making water of extreme high quality, with just the right mixture of compounds/trace elements to enable extreme longevity. There will be plenty of demand for that.
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The_Caveman

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #50 on: 31 January 2019, 15:11:02 »
Fuel cell engines would, ironically, make great ad-hoc water generation systems.

Hydrogen and oxygen go in, electricity and pure water come out.

Ultimately the problem with purification being difficult is that if you have abundant electrical power you can just heat water to temperatures where the molecules dissociate, which will kill anything. The constituent gases are easy to separate from any chemical contaminants at that point. Some light centrifuging and a controlled combustion reaction later, and you have potable water. Fission, nevermind fusion, makes this trivial to do.
Half the fun of BattleTech is the mental gymnastics required to scientifically rationalize design choices made decades ago entirely based on the Rule of Cool.

The other half is a first-turn AC/2 shot TAC to your gyro that causes your Atlas to fall and smash its own cockpit... wait, I said fun didn't I?

Colt Ward

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #51 on: 31 January 2019, 15:18:37 »
Yeah, but then that also would suppose 3SW most planets were using coal or gas fired plants.

Additionally, if you were the House Lord would you want some underling messing around with nuclear power on their planet . . . where they might be able to sneak through either dirty bombs or even a full fledged weapons program?  What took geniuses at the beginning now takes well trained technicians as long as they have the tools- why give some future rebel such tools?
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MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #52 on: 31 January 2019, 15:36:45 »
I'm pretty sure that the nuclear genie is sufficiently out of the bottle by the time of the Star League's formation that it's really not possible to prevent a determined group from building their own low-yield nuke if they wanted to.
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The_Caveman

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #53 on: 31 January 2019, 15:51:13 »
I'm pretty sure that the nuclear genie is sufficiently out of the bottle by the time of the Star League's formation that it's really not possible to prevent a determined group from building their own low-yield nuke if they wanted to.

Right. Not to mention fission plants are looked down on as downright primitive technology even in the LosTech era.

WMDs aren't used for cultural reasons, not technological ones. Anyone with a flyable DropShip technically has their hands on a WMD comparable to a dinosaur-killer asteroid.
Half the fun of BattleTech is the mental gymnastics required to scientifically rationalize design choices made decades ago entirely based on the Rule of Cool.

The other half is a first-turn AC/2 shot TAC to your gyro that causes your Atlas to fall and smash its own cockpit... wait, I said fun didn't I?

Colt Ward

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #54 on: 31 January 2019, 16:20:30 »
I'm pretty sure that the nuclear genie is sufficiently out of the bottle by the time of the Star League's formation that it's really not possible to prevent a determined group from building their own low-yield nuke if they wanted to.

Which is why I said it takes a good technician with the tools.  The tools are going to be the limiting factor and depending on what type of bomb is being built will make determine if/type of reactor is needed.


Right. Not to mention fission plants are looked down on as downright primitive technology even in the LosTech era.

WMDs aren't used for cultural reasons, not technological ones. Anyone with a flyable DropShip technically has their hands on a WMD comparable to a dinosaur-killer asteroid.

Fission is looked down on?  Sure from the golden Star League age where every SL city was powered by some giant fusion plant.  But those fusion plants started falling apart and the ability to maintain them became limited- so which planet is likely to get fusion spares, New Avalon or Outback Central?  And since the SL era fusion plant no longer works and is stripped for parts to maintain fusion plants on more important worlds.  So what does that planet replace their non-functioning fusion plant with during or towards the end of the 2SW?  Fission?  Why would a House Lord allow it to be built or make the parts even available since tech & shipping is at a premium?  A planet is more likely able to make a coal, oil or gas fired power plant out of their own sources which leaves a advanced factory trying to keep up with the demand for fusion plant spares as more of the advanced factories get nuked.  Each world would also have to build the industries that would lead to a nuclear reactor; the threshold for hydro or c/o/g plants is a lot lower.

While the IS population might be scarred by the NBC exchanges of the 1SW & 2SW the House leaders are still going to take steps to keep that sort of resource out of other people's hands.
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The_Caveman

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #55 on: 31 January 2019, 23:55:07 »
Why would a House Lord allow it to be built or make the parts even available since tech & shipping is at a premium?

Who says a House Lord has that kind of authority? They're not interstellar dictators. If a duke or earl wants a nuclear program in his own sub-realm, that's his business under the feudal code. The House Lord isn't likely to start a civil war over it since there are bigger fish to fry. And if anyone is that afraid of nuclear weapons, thorium breeder reactors are a safer, difficult-to-weaponize option.

But again, nobody freaks out over random civilians having their own DropShips because using them as relativistic weapons is just not the done thing, despite a Union that has expended all its fuel burning at a planet being deadlier than Earth's entire present-day nuclear arsenal combined. The trouble and expense of a secret nuclear weapons program just isn't worth it even for terrorists. Even a K-1 DropShuttle has the potential to be a multi-gigaton impactor.

Quote
A planet is more likely able to make a coal, oil or gas fired power plant out of their own sources which leaves a advanced factory trying to keep up with the demand for fusion plant spares as more of the advanced factories get nuked.  Each world would also have to build the industries that would lead to a nuclear reactor; the threshold for hydro or c/o/g plants is a lot lower.

Fossil plants are easier and cheaper, and I suspect they'd be the main source of power for any place out in the sticks. But fission plants are still 1930s technology, and the thorium variety doesn't even require a uranium enrichment program. Any large city that can't maintain a fusion plant has almost certainly switched to fission.

Even on planets where the economy doesn't support fission energy, as I mentioned previously, fuel cells are convenient sources of pure water and there are no technological hurdles preventing a planet with abundant oceans from using solar concentrators and fuel cells together as an effectively unlimited source of drinkable water--except in the case of places that are limited to 19th-century tech like New St Andrews.
Half the fun of BattleTech is the mental gymnastics required to scientifically rationalize design choices made decades ago entirely based on the Rule of Cool.

The other half is a first-turn AC/2 shot TAC to your gyro that causes your Atlas to fall and smash its own cockpit... wait, I said fun didn't I?

Jellico

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #56 on: 01 February 2019, 00:58:24 »
Heck. I'd be looking at solar or wind power for power generation even in the sticks. Battletech tech lasts for centuries. Importing a generator may well be comparable in cost to designing and implementing an ICE plant. Maintenance is then a magic number but it could well be negligible.

I have said before the US writers are too far removed from when the US was a 3rd rate power which imported most of its advanced tech. Too often the Periphery minors are treated as little games of Civilization where you have to build all your own stuff. In reality minors are often dependent on imports to a shocking level.

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #57 on: 01 February 2019, 10:14:14 »
Heck. I'd be looking at solar or wind power for power generation even in the sticks. Battletech tech lasts for centuries. Importing a generator may well be comparable in cost to designing and implementing an ICE plant. Maintenance is then a magic number but it could well be negligible.

I have said before the US writers are too far removed from when the US was a 3rd rate power which imported most of its advanced tech. Too often the Periphery minors are treated as little games of Civilization where you have to build all your own stuff. In reality minors are often dependent on imports to a shocking level.

I suspect that part of the reason why everyone wants to build their own stuff is because the Star League worlds on the Periphery and other backwaters who were depending mostly on imported tech backslid badly or died out during the Succession Wars.


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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #58 on: 01 February 2019, 12:17:29 »
Who says a House Lord has that kind of authority? They're not interstellar dictators. If a duke or earl wants a nuclear program in his own sub-realm, that's his business under the feudal code. The House Lord isn't likely to start a civil war over it since there are bigger fish to fry. And if anyone is that afraid of nuclear weapons, thorium breeder reactors are a safer, difficult-to-weaponize option.

But again, nobody freaks out over random civilians having their own DropShips because using them as relativistic weapons is just not the done thing, despite a Union that has expended all its fuel burning at a planet being deadlier than Earth's entire present-day nuclear arsenal combined. The trouble and expense of a secret nuclear weapons program just isn't worth it even for terrorists. Even a K-1 DropShuttle has the potential to be a multi-gigaton impactor.

Fossil plants are easier and cheaper, and I suspect they'd be the main source of power for any place out in the sticks. But fission plants are still 1930s technology, and the thorium variety doesn't even require a uranium enrichment program. Any large city that can't maintain a fusion plant has almost certainly switched to fission.

Even on planets where the economy doesn't support fission energy, as I mentioned previously, fuel cells are convenient sources of pure water and there are no technological hurdles preventing a planet with abundant oceans from using solar concentrators and fuel cells together as an effectively unlimited source of drinkable water--except in the case of places that are limited to 19th-century tech like New St Andrews.

Because smacking a planet with a dropship has implications for those who are still on the planet and its something that is obvious as it happens.  Pulling a Atomic Annie and walking the bomb to near the target is not something obvious and is a threat that does not have to change the whole world- size dependent of course.  Its a kind of defensive measure that allows a planet to thumb their nose at the House Lord- land your RCT, I DARE YOU.  Restricting NBC, like artillery and ASF, is one of those setting things that makes ground armies in general and mech in particular king.  Its not like we are talking about some US state building a new nuke plant.  You are talking about planets involved with a continuing tech loss, or already hammered by it so they will have to get the specialized tools to build the tools they need to make the tools that gives them the piles, reactors, and such to get the energy/weapon.

When they have to import tech/parts rather than build it up from scratch in their own fief, then that gives the House Lord a lot more ways to slow things down- just like Sun Tzu did to the Taurians in the Trinity Alliance.

Again, end of 2SW and through the 3SW you are going to have to get the technology to build up to the infrastructure it takes to support a nuclear program- and you said the SL considered it 'dead' technology.  While it maybe 1930s tech its not something post-Star League worlds will have experience with or have the infrastructure in place to crank out the components needed.  You may know the general theory behind the processes, but can you sit down and build your own coal fired boiler to motive power?  or more complicated, electricity?  Its like when the Iowa had a 16" gun malfunction in '89.  We knew the specs, we knew the how, but the factories that had built the gun tubes, breechs, blocks and other parts for its operation had been shut down for decades- so even before that the parts had to be custom made which made the costs astronomical.  Heck, we have not built a new non-ship/military reactor here in the US until 2016, and it was nearly 20 years before that for the last one . . . which had a decade or more from the previous one.  This also gets into the economies of scale, which also leads to the planet wanting it to import- to go somewhere that can produce it.
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Atarlost

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Re: Fuel Cell vs ICE
« Reply #59 on: 01 February 2019, 18:53:39 »
Fossil plants are easier and cheaper, and I suspect they'd be the main source of power for any place out in the sticks. But fission plants are still 1930s technology, and the thorium variety doesn't even require a uranium enrichment program. Any large city that can't maintain a fusion plant has almost certainly switched to fission.

The trouble is that they presume fossil fuels exist on the planet.  You need to start with a lot of life, which many planets will never have had.  Then you need lots of it to die all at once and pile, then it needs to get buried before it decomposes.  Add time heat and pressure over geologic time and you've got oil, but the earlier steps are less reliable. 

Some worlds never had dense enough biospheres.  Others haven't had a mass extinction.  Or just haven't had one that produced oil fields.  Not all of Earth's seem to have.  Carbon sequestration reduces the potential density of the biosphere because life is made of carbon (or at least any life that can produce fossil fuels is).  Hesperus seems to be about as dense with life as possible so it probably can't have had a mass extinction that produced oil.  That means you can probably go for biofuels, but it still not going to be as economical as other methods. 

Most of the time these no oil planets are going to be the poor ones.  Not only is it a handy bootstrapping fuel but it's used in chemical industries.  Tharkad's going to have oil but be prosperous enough to not need to burn it while poor Trellwan desperately needs cheap power but doesn't have oil. 

 

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