The Supermatter Engine is the primary source of power on board the SEV Torch. It consists of a web of specialized machinery built around an inherently unstable, radioactive, highly explosive piece of glowing crystal with enough power contained within its body to destroy quite a large portion of the ship if mishandled. Properly calibrated and maintained, however, the Supermatter engine produces enough power to run most, if not all, of the machinery aboard the ship without any issue.
Priming, starting, and maintaining the Supermatter engine is the primary function of the Engineering Department. Any and all Engineers should expect to work with the Supermatter at least once at the beginning of every round.
Basic operating principles
While the Supermatter engine is an inherently complex and intricate collection of yet more complex and intricate individual parts, the basic principles by which it operates are fairly straightforward.
The giant, glowing, radioactive, highly lethal shard of crystal that is the Supermatter is, obviously, the centerpiece of the entire operation. Understanding its various properties is key to properly utilizing the Supermatter engine.
First and foremost, in case all of the previous use of scary adjectives like "radioactive" and "highly lethal" was not enough to get the point across, the Supermatter is probably the single most dangerous thing on board the ship. It is highly unstable, and anything directly touching it (such as particularly stupid or suicidal Engineers deciding to enter the reactor core) will instantly turn to ash. Letting the Supermatter get too hot is liable to cause it to explode in a process referred to as delamination. Violently. This will not only do substantial damage to the Engineering department, but will short out or destroy most of the ship's electronics and bathe everyone aboard in large quantities of lethal radiation. While the full consequences of radiation doses are, generally speaking, for the ship Physicians to worry about, it is important for all shipboard Engineers to understand that this is one of the quickest ways to kill a large number of the crew. It is the ultimate Bad News so far as the Engineering department is concerned, and should be avoided at all costs.
Fortunately, direct interaction with the Supermatter is almost never required. In the case that manual manipulation is needed, understand that touching the Supermatter (by clicking on it) will cause it to instantly destroy the person touching it.
Note: The only way to directly manipulate the Supermatter without causing it to explode is to pull it.
Even when not directly interacting with the Supermatter, however, it is still highly dangerous to anyone nearby. Directly viewing the Supermatter without mesons will cause hallucinations, which must be corrected by Medical. Additionally, when active, the Supermatter produces lethal amounts of radiation, heat, and an oxygen-phoron mix which is highly flammable. The reactor core is designed to be sturdy enough to contain the heat, fires, and gases emitted, but Engineers working on the Supermatter engine - or even just nearby - are still encouraged to wear full protective gear at all times to avoid horrible death.
Finally, the Supermatter is susceptible to excessive heat. Temperatures above 5000 degrees Kelvin will cause the matter to rapidly destabilize - and, if its integrity levels reach 0%, it will (of course) explode violently. Additionally, any temperatures above approximately 4250K will cause the borosilicate windows around the core to melt, which can rapidly lead to a reactor breach and its own host of problems. At 6000K, even the reinforced walls of the core itself will melt into radioactive slag. 4000K is generally considered the safety threshold for standard operation; anything higher should be dealt with quickly to cut off any danger to the Supermatter.
Bullets and the like will also inflict damage to the Supermatter's integrity levels. Given time, and assuming that no further damage is inflicted, the Supermatter can regenerate, restoring its lost integrity automatically. This process, however, requires that temperatures be below dangerous levels.
However, despite all of its intensely dangerous properties, the Supermatter is also extremely useful if properly controlled. Once safely activated, the Supermatter will absorb small amounts of gases around it, then emit heat, radiation, oxygen, and phoron. How much of this it releases depends on the gases it has absorbed and the amount of energy used in its activation. Combined with the rest of the machinery involved in the Supermatter engine, this can reduce in a large amount of power produced with very little active maintenance required.
This article, the Supermatter monitor, and even other Engineers are going to use a lot of acronyms and different terms when they're referring to different parts of the Supermatter in an effort to make sure it doesn't blow off a chunk of the reactor room. For easy reference, this is a list of a few terms that you're likely to see when working with the Supermatter, and what they mean.
- EER - Energy Emission Rate. This is a direct reference to the amount of energy in the Supermatter. The Supermatter sheds this over time to produce heat, radiation, and gas. The higher the EER, the higher the power generation potential.
- EPR - Engine Pressure Ratio. This is how much actual coolant is in the core chamber. A very low amount of EPR is a very bad thing - it means there's either a coolant leak or there's not enough coolant in the core at all. High EPR is less of a problem, and some Engineers like to run setups that have a deliberately high EPR. If you're not sure, don't be afraid to ask for help! Keeping it between 1 and 3 is generally a good rule of thumb.
The thermoelectric generators
The thermoelectric generators, or TEGs, are big gray machines that, along with the Supermatter, form the beating heart of the engine. Fortunately for the Engineers required to work with them, they are not nearly as lethal.
The idea is simple: the TEGs are set up with a pair of turbines, one on each side, which take in gas flowing through in opposite directions. When these two gases pass through the TEG, it produces an amount of power based on each gas' heat level. The larger the difference between the two gas mixes' temperatures, the more power is generated. The gas is then piped out again to continue onwards. When gas is flowing properly, the turbines on each end of the generator will spin, and various lights will turn on to indicate that power is being produced.
Of course, gases meeting in the generator will have their temperatures equalized slightly by the process. Hotter gases will heat cooler ones in the opposite loop slightly, while cooler gases will slightly chill their counterparts. Because of this, it is not possible to simply superheat one canister of gas while supercooling another, then rig them up to pipe through opposite sides of the TEGs in perpetuity. The temperatures would eventually equalize, and power generation would cease.
TEGs also have an upper limit to the amount of power that they can produce. If this power limit is exceeded, the generator will begin to spark as it discharges excess energy. Despite the alarming noises, this is not harmful to the machine - it just means that some efficiency is being lost due to the generator being overworked.
When detailed information on a TEG's operating status is required, an Engineer can examine its display by clicking on its central part. This will bring up a variety of details about the generator, the gases being piped through it, and the power generated thereby.
The pipe systems
The Supermatter engine is practically a maze of pipes of all colors, which can be extremely daunting for a newbie Engineer to try to understand. Fortunately, the system is much simpler than it appears, and all pipes within the engine room have been color-coded for ease of use.
- Dark Blue and Dark Red pipes are the distro and waste atmospherics lines. They have nothing to do with the engine, and can be safely ignored. Their only purpose is to make the engine room breathable, and refill it (or scrub toxins from the air, as the case may be) in the case of a breach.
- Dark Brown pipes were once connected to the ship's thrusters. They currently have no active function and may be safely ignored.
- Black pipes are waste. Any gas flowing through these pipes will be ejected into space and removed from the engine.
- Light Blue pipes are the coolant loop. The gas in these pipes is kept as cool as possible by routing it through a variety of radiator tubes in space, which allow it to vent its heat safely into vacuum. It is then piped through one side of the TEGs.
- Green and Yellow pipes are the hot loop. Gas contained in the green pipes is destined for the Supermatter chamber, where it will be briefly exposed to the crystal in order to both enable the reaction that powers it and to absorb heat emitted. Once heated, the gas will be re-absorbed into the yellow loop, which will route it through the second half of the TEGs and, afterwards, return it to the green loop for another trip around.
Aside from the basic pipes, there are a variety of gas filters within the engine room that exist to filter out dangerous trace gases from the various loops.
At the port side of the engine room you will find three gas filters. Those are set in such a way as to remove all other gasses beside the coolant - hydrogen, by default - from the loops. This is vital, as the Supermatter produces both phoron and oxygen while active, and adding these volatile gases to your hot loop can have disastrous consequences. The middle gas filter is used to filter out the phoron from the removed waste gas. If you choose another coolant gas than hydrogen, do not forget to adjust them. Otherwise, they'll just filter out all of your precious gas into space, leaving your engine without any coolant and quickly causing a delamination.
A final note on coolant filtration: by default, a filter connects the hot loop and waste loop. This filter is set to extract phoron from the loop and place it into a canister attached to a connector port nearby, instead of sending it into space. The amount produced isn't high, but phoron is a very useful gas. Waste not, want not.
One of the only safe ways to interact directly with a Supermatter crystal is to fire a high-energy laser into it. Engineering, therefore, has one fixed to the floor in front of the reactor core for this exact reason. Once the rest of the Supermatter engine is properly configured and ready to go, opening the reactor blast doors and turning on the emitter will activate the Supermatter and, ideally, begin production of power. The more emitter shots that are fired into the engine, the more energetic the Supermatter becomes, and the more heat is produced - which, of course, leads to more power.
Do remember, however, that the Supermatter is vulnerable to high temperatures. Simply leaving the emitter on to fire indefinitely in the hopes of infinite heat and, therefore, infinite electricity is an easy way to get things to get very explodey very quickly. Even if the Supermatter doesn't explode, higher energy levels also translate to higher radiation output, which can leak out of the engine room and into various surrounding locations if it gets severe enough. See below for more information on the number of emitter shots that should be employed for safe and efficient engine operation.
Putting it all together
So, now that all the various pieces of the engine are understood, it shouldn't be too difficult to move from this to a complete understanding of Supermatter engine theory.
Gas contained within the hot loop is piped into the reactor core, heated by the Supermatter, and then brought out again to run through the TEGs. On the other side of the same generator, gas from the cold loop is being brought in from the radiators outside, freshly chilled and ready to work. The TEG takes the extreme temperature difference here and turns it into electricity, and, in the process, the hot loop gas bleeds off some of its excess heat into the cold loop gas, keeping the engine from overheating. Once this is done, both gas mixes are sent out again to be re-heated and re-cooled, and the process begins again.
Put like this, it is an extremely simple process, and the Supermatter is, fortunately, mostly self-sustaining if the engine has been set up correctly. Once things are up and running, it shouldn't take more than the occasional check-in to make sure that things are continuing to run smoothly - barring any nasty accidents, of course.
The setup process
Now that the engine is fully understood, it's time to begin thinking about how to operate it. The process of configuring the engine for safe running is a fairly long one, but is actually very simple in practice - it just has a long list of steps that need to be carefully executed in order to ensure that everything is working properly.
Any Engineer working in or near the engine room is highly encouraged to wear full protective gear at all times. Even the most low-output setups for the Supermatter are highly dangerous, and neglecting workplace safety is a good way to end up in the Morgue.
Step one: Gas Injection
Typically, the engine will be set up using hydrogen as the primary coolant. Assuming that's your chosen gas, take 3 or more canisters to atmospherics and start filling them up to 15000kPa using the port by the hydrogen storage tank. The main idea is to create a large enough buffer to absorb the heat from the SM crystal.
Once there, place the canisters on the injection ports behind the emitter and wrench them into place, then turn on the two gas pumps just beside them and set them to MAX pressure. Empty at least 2 canisters into the cold loop (blue) and 1 into the hot (green).
This will begin draining the gas from your canisters and into the engine's hot and cold loops. When the canisters are empty, use the wrench on them again to disconnect them from the injector ports, get them out of the way, and repeat the process until all of your chosen canisters of gas have been injected into the engine. As this can take some time, you may want to take advantage of the wait and complete other setup steps.
Step two: Radiator Loop Setup
Now that the gas is injected, the engine is almost ready. The last thing to do before startup is to find the two gas pumps on the cold loop, just next to each of the TEGs, and turn them on at MAX pressure. This will set the gas flowing through the generators.
Step three: Startup
It is a good idea to go through this pre-startup checklist before you energize the core in order to ensure that you didn't miss any critical steps, as forgetting any part of engine setup is likely to result in a Torch-shaking kaboom. Even assuming that you survive, you'll probably be fired, so:
- Is the hot loop full? If so, check the TEGs; the bottom turbine will be spinning slowly.
- Is the cool loop flowing? Once again, you can find out by looking at the TEGs. The top side should be slowly spinning, too.
- Are the waste filters enabled and set correctly?
- In the Supermatter monitoring program is the EPR at least at 1.5 and not decreasing?
Activating the Supermatter
This is it. The moment of truth. Time to bring the engine online and bring sweet, sweet power flowing to the ship.
- You are already wearing your standard safety gear.
- Move into the engine control room, just outside the engine room itself, and open the reactor core shutters by pressing the button marked "Reactor Blast Doors".
- Bring up the engine room cameras on one of the consoles, being sure that you can see the emitter. Alternatively, return to the engine room and stand beside - not in front of - the emitter.
- Activate the emitter by pressing the "Engine Emitter" button in the monitoring room, or clicking on the emitter itself while in the engine room.
- Allow the emitter to fire the appropriate number of shots into the Supermatter.
- Deactivate the emitter.
- Close the reactor blast doors.
To see how many shots you should allow the emitter to fire before disabling it, consult the table below. Note that exceeding the recommended number of emitter shots is not recommended, and can be extremely dangerous. Doing so can cause the temperature within the reactor core to skyrocket, threatening the Supermatter's integrity.
|Coolant Type||Recommended Shots (EER Value)||Maximal (Safe) Shots||Average Output (Recommended Shots)||Average Output (Maximal Shots)|
|Hydrogen (H2)||30-40 (EER 600)||50||~2-4 MW||~2-3 MW|
NOTE: EER (Energy Emission Rate) value may be seen via the Supermatter Monitor program. A higher EER value means higher core output.
Additional NOTE: Most of the values in this table have not been updated in a while, always keep an eye on the core temperature. 5000 kelvin is where the crystal will start to delaminate.
Assuming that everything has gone smoothly, congratulations! The engine is now online, and you will in all likelihood not have to do anything with it for the rest of the round.
Maintenance and emergencies
While the engine is designed to be mostly self-sustaining, some minor maintenance is needed to keep it running at optimal efficiency. Beyond this, it will occasionally be the case that some idiot messes with a vital component, or that a hapless Trainee Engineer did something wrong during the setup that wasn't caught. In these cases, it is important to know how to identify the problem and how to repair it quickly, because an unhappy Supermatter is an exploding Supermatter.
The Supermatter slowly bleeds away the energy that was used to charge it. This, over time, results in a drop of output from the crystal, including temperature, radiation, and gas. This means that the Supermatter will have to be occasionally re-energized in order to maintain power output.
This will not be an issue on most rounds, particularly when using a properly-energized setup, as power bleed takes quite some time to set in. During normal rounds, the initial startup should be enough to power the ship throughout the game. In the case of colossal drains on the power or other issues, though, it may be necessary to open up the reactor blast doors and fire the emitter into the Supermatter once again to bump up power output.
Re-energization shots are generally limited to a small amount of blasts from the emitter, in order to avoid engine overheat. Monitor the Supermatter's EER from the control room and adjust the number of shots accordingly.
In order to make tracking the Supermatter's condition easier, Engineering personnel have access to the Supermatter Monitoring program on the consoles located throughout the ship. This gives a readout of the Supermatter's current EER, temperature, integrity, and other associated variables, which vary depending on engine setup. It will also display alerts if said values begin to approach safety thresholds.
If the Supermatter Monitoring program isn't giving any readings, then the Supermatter has been moved from its starting location. Better find it fast.
In addition to the Supermatter Monitoring program, the Torch has a built-in integrity monitoring program that will broadcast warnings if the Supermatter's integrity begins to drop. The first warning, given over the Engineering radio frequency, comes at 90% integrity. Should integrity continue to drop, further warnings will be broadcast on general radio channels warning personnel of the incoming disaster.
If the various engine monitoring programs have indicated that there is a problem with the Supermatter, it is vital that the problem be identified and corrected as quickly as possible. Failure to do so will, more often than not, result in delamination. In order to diagnose the issue most effectively, it is recommended that newer Engineers, without the experience necessary to make more educated guesses, follow these steps:
- Obtain all necessary protective gear.
- Visually inspect the emitter from the engine control room. If it is online, deactivate it.
- Use the Supermatter Monitor program to check the Supermatter's status. If the core's EPR reading is lower than the normal for your chosen setup, it is likely that a coolant leak has occurred.
- In the case of a confirmed coolant leak, attempt to identify the cause. If a pump was left on that should not have been on, turn it off; if a section of piping has been breached, replace it; and so on.
- With the cause of the coolant leak removed, proceed to Coolant Injection, as below.
- Check the engine room via the cameras.
- Search for any damage to walls or pipes, particularly around the Supermatter.
- If the reactor core is breached, proceed to the Core Breach section, below.
- Otherwise, repair the damage as quickly as possible, then continue.
- Check the Engine Core SMES in the power storage room. Does it have any power? Are its inputs and outputs turned on? If not, you need to very quickly come up with a plan to get power into the Engine Core subgrid, as this is the battery that runs all of the engine room machinery.
- Enter the engine room. Verify integrity of the piping and power supply wiring. If any pipes were removed/damaged, determine if the current piping is sufficient to ensure cooling. This usually means that the pipes either run into TEGs and back into the core, or to the emergency cooling valves and back into the core. If the TEG pipes are damaged, but emergency cooling valves aren't, activate emergency cooling valves to keep the core stabilised, and perform repairs to pipes.
- Begin checking all the machinery. Is the APC receiving enough power to run circulation? If not, either replace the APC cell, or ensure a sufficient amount of power for it to operate (usually done by adjusting SMES settings or, if the SMESs are damaged, by installing an emergency PACMAN generator).
- Check the TEGs. Are they operating properly? Are they wrenched down properly?
- Is all the machinery behaving as it should? If a machine appears to be malfunctioning, attempt to bypass it or otherwise resolve the situation depending on which machine is causing failure.
- If, at any point in this process, core integrity drops below 30%, emergency core ejection is recommended to ensure preservation of ship structure (and the lives of the crew). After this, full investigation is recommended to determine cause of failure. Appropriate actions (at the discretion of the Chief Engineer, or other Command staff) should be taken.
Finally, if you have verified that everything is in working order and, yet, not working, don't be afraid to ahelp about possible bugs (or pleading for guidance).
Most issues with the engine short of a breach or other structural damage ultimately come down to employing this method. As such, all Engineers working with the engine should be familiar with it.
If the engine temperature is approaching or beyond safety thresholds, it is possible to vent all gas from the hot loop by pressing the Engine Ventillatory Control button in the control room. This will open a set of shutters and expose the reactor core to space, sucking all gas out of the Supermatter chamber and hot loop. Once this overheated gas is removed, the shutters can then be closed, and replacement gas can be injected into the engine as during setup. Since all of the overheated gas has been vented, this will essentially reset the engine temperature entirely.
It is also possible to entirely replace the gas in the hot loop with a different kind of gas using this method - for example, venting nitrogen into space, then injecting phoron into the hot loop in its place - which can be useful when dealing with overly-energetic Supermatter. Just remember to reconfigure the gas filters before doing this, or your new hot loop gas will be flushed into space.
Warning: The Supermatter will lose integrity rapidly while there is no gas in the loop! If the Supermatter's integrity is already at critical levels, do not use this method!
When the engine is destabilizing, but temperatures are not high enough to warrant full hot-loop replacement, it may be wise to inject some colder gas directly into the hot loop to cool the Supermatter and prevent further loss of integrity. This is usually just a band-aid function used to buy time unless the only issue was that the gas was somehow lost. Ideally, this should be done with pre-cooled gas, prepared via Atmospherics.
Usually, this is done using the same type of gas that was originally placed into the hot loop. If a different gas is available, however, it may be prudent to inject a different gas that the filters are set to remove from the system. This gas will equalize temperatures with the gas already in the hot loop, then be ejected directly into space, essentially removing heat from the hot loop outright and providing a helpful emergency temperature drop.
Emergency cooling valves
In addition to the radiator pipe loops extending into space, the Torch's engine is fitted with a heat exchanger array and emergency bypass valves. These valves may be used either to help the core cool down a bit during normal operations, or to cool it in emergency situations.
The heat exchangers, under normal operating conditions, are not used. They are connected to both the hot and cold loops, and, when gas is flowing through both attached pipes, will help to equalize the temperature of both loops, which will reduce the temperature of gas flowing to the Supermatter at the cost of reducing power output somewhat. In order to enable the heat exchangers, click on the Emergency Cooling Valve beside them.
In even more dire circumstances, an immediate and substantial temperature drop may be required. In this case, if the heat exchangers are already enabled, it is possible to simply join the hot and cold loops together, mixing the gases contained therein and immediately equalizing temperatures. This will almost completely eliminate power output, but will lower temperature rapidly. In order to join the two loops, enable the heat exchangers, then click on the Emergency Cooling Bypass Valve. Do keep in mind that this may interfere with filter operations if both loops are using separate gases.
In general, if you are facing only minor overload (integrity is dropping very slowly), the heat exchangers are usually enough to resolve the issue. If the integrity is dropping rapidly, the usage of emergency cooling is recommended instead.
Emergency core ejection
The ultimate answer to Supermatter-related troubles on board the ship. If things are going rapidly south and delamination seems imminent, Engineering has the ability to eject the Supermatter from the ship entirely. This will obviously leave the ship without its main source of power, but this is preferable to leaving the ship without a large chunk out of its aft end and with a nasty case of radiation poisoning.
Doing so is a fairly simple process. Open the reactor core to space with the Emergency Core Vent Control button (1), then press the Emergency Core Eject button (3) and pray.
When the Core SMES fails, such as by being destroyed or by running dry after its charging input was turned off, you must immediately take emergency action to restore power to the engine room. Without it, none of the machinery in the engine will function, and the Supermatter will be left to slowly heat itself up to the point of delamination.
How precisely to restore power depends on how it was lost to begin with. If the SMES was destroyed, it will be necessary to wire up a PACMAN or other alternate source of power in its place. If wires were merely cut, they will need to be repaired. And so on.
A core breach is a very dangerous situation in which the Supermatter chamber is compromised. There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of core breach, and each is handled in a slightly different way.
An inner breach occurs when walls, windows, or airlocks between the engine core and the engine room are destroyed or left open. This situation is very dangerous, because the high-temperature hot loop gases will merge with the engine room atmosphere. If the engine was set up using phoron or hydrogen in its hot loop, this is particularly bad, as the oxygen in the engine room provides the perfect fuel for a raging inferno. Even assuming that there is no fire, the Supermatter will react violently with the oxygen in the engine room atmosphere, starting a runaway chain reaction that will rapidly push it to dangerous new highs and is almost certain to raise temperatures to delamination levels.
Inner breaches are one of the most dangerous issues that the engine might face. The immediate concern during any inner breach is the repair of said breach through any means necessary and the filtering of oxygen out of the reactor core. If this is not possible, the Engineering crew may be left with no choice but to eject the Supermatter into space.
An outer breach occurs when walls (or blast doors) between the engine core and space are damaged to a degree that causes a gas leak. If this occurs, gas levels will very quickly reach zero, though this can be mitigated if an Engineer acts quickly to disable gas injection into the core.
As with inner breaches, the primary concern with an outer breach is the sealing of the open area and restoration of engine core integrity. Unlike an inner breach, however, the primary threat here is not a runaway oxygen reaction, but rather that working in vacuum to repair the breach (using plasteel or diamond, in order to withstand the temperatures of the Supermatter without melting) means the use of voidsuits - which, as noted previously, do not protect against the levels of radiation emitted by the Supermatter. It is best to inform Medical that emergency radiation treatment will be necessary for anyone working to repair the reactor core in this situation. The Supermatter will also continue to heat itself to dangerous levels while deprived of gas flow.
Once the breach has been sealed, it is important to restore gas flow in the hot loop to its previous levels. This may require the injection of new gas.
If, for some reason, the Engine Core SMES is completely devoid of charge and the engine is not online, the emitter will not be able to fire, and thus the engine will not be able to start. In this situation, a "cold start" is necessary. There are many different ways to do this, most of which consist of rigging up a temporary power source to coax a few shots from the emitter and bring the Supermatter online. A few of the most common are listed below:
- PACMAN assisted jump start - This is the simplest way. Disable charging on the main SMES, and enable charging on the engine SMES at full power. Connect a PACMAN portable generator with a wrench to the input cable of the engine room SMES. Turn on the PACMAN generator and wait a while for the engine room SMES to charge, then turn its output on. The emitter should briefly regain power, which should be enough to fire at least one blast. After this some energy will be produced, which is enough to charge the SMES normally. Remember that the PACMAN generator needs solid phoron as fuel (the PACMAN in engineering storage starts half-full).
- Is the PACMAN out of fuel? Use the solars. You will need wiring knowledge for this. Connect the Engine Room SMES input to the main power grid and charge it a bit with the solars, then continue with regular startup.
- Solars gone? Don't worry, another way exists. Ask one of your friendly masters at arms/heads of staff with access to energy weaponry to come to Engineering with one. While lasers are weaker than emitters, they are enough to slightly energize the core. Fire a few laser blasts at the Supermatter core and it should be enough to start a weak reaction which generates a small amount of power, enough to allow usage of emitter afterwards. Do not use ballistic weapons, they can cause core damage!
- No weapons on board? There's still an alternative. Construct a Cell Rack PSU, and connect it's output to the engine's SMES. Obtain few charged power cells and discharge them into the SMES through this PSU. While cells are slow, and have generally very small capacity in comparison to SMESes, you can charge up the SMES with them, enough to fire few emitter shots.
- Someone stole all the PSU circuits? You can also use oxygen. A large enough concentration of oxygen causes a runaway chain reaction inside the reactor core, which should be enough to generate small amount of power. Doing this with phoron cooling is extremely dangerous, however, due to the fire risks involved (on the other hand, fire is only another source of heat, which is what you generate energy from. Use at your own risk...) This entire process is rather unpredictable and shouldn't be used unless you really, really have to use it. The remaining oxygen should be filtered out as soon as possible.
If It's possible that automatic ejection can fail due to negligence, or otherwise not work correctly if systems have been damaged. The Supermatter core sits on top of a mass driver, and that mass driver isn't indestructible. It's possible something has gone wrong, such as the mass
- The mass driver is destroyed or not operational.
- Someone forgot to open the blast doors to space before pressing the mass driver button.
- The Supermatter core was somehow moved out of its default position.
Whatever the case may be, a failing Supermatter that fails to eject from the reactor core is the worst possible scenario that the core can be in. If this happens, there's only one solution: someone has to manually enter the reactor room and drag the Supermatter. This is, quite possibly, the most dangerous thing you can possibly do aboard the ship. It's the one scenario where someone has to either directly interact with the Supermatter core or let it delaminate.
Unfortunately for the Robots aboard the Torch, if a robot has an engineering or repair module selected, they are the best candidate for the task due to their innate resistance to vacuum, radiation, air flow, and temperature. If there isn't a robot available, and nobody else wants to possibly be a heroic sacrifice, you're going to have to do it yourself. At bare minimum, you'll need a voidsuit - but ideally, you'll have an EVA hardsuit, which will fully resist the core's radiation, has no slowdown, and comes with innate magboots and even mounted maneuvering jets. You may not have the time to put one on, so be prepared to go in without the luxury of proper protection.
If you have magboots, it's a good idea to use them - being knocked over by air flow can slow you down at best or shove you straight into the Supermatter at worst. Assuming that the mass driver and blast door is still operational and the Supermatter is in the core chamber, all you'll need to do is drag it on top of the mass driver and run the ejection process again, making sure that the blast door is open this time.
In a worst-case scenario, where the mass driver or blast door has been compromised, you'll need to drag the core into space yourself. As long as the Supermatter is on a ship z-level, the Torch will feel the full aftershocks of the blast. If you're lucky, you'll have the time to drag it far enough into space not to affect the ship, but time is of the essence. If you only have a few seconds, get it clear of the ship and get away fast. The whole ship will be irradiated and without power, but at least you'll not have to deal with a huge explosion, too.
Upgrades and customization
The Supermatter engine, despite the delicacy of its central component, is made to be easily customizable according to the whims of the Engineers working on it. It is entirely possible to make substantial alterations to the engine that will greatly increase its output - though, of course, it is entirely possible for these alterations to result in complete and total engine failure. Experiment at your own risk, and ideally test these ideas out on your own private server before bringing them onto the game proper. A few of the more common methods of customization are listed below.
Every Engineer has their own preferences for gas selection and amounts when it comes to setting up the engine, and they will argue endlessly about which setups are most efficient, safest, or most powerful. Ultimately, this is largely a matter of personal preference, and you should feel free to experiment with different amounts and types of gases.
As a note, however, mixing gases, whether putting one gas into the hot loop and one into the cold loop or mixing them both within the same loop, is generally not encouraged. It simply isn't efficient, and greatly complicates the filtration setups required, as well as making it more difficult to perform various emergency procedures should something go wrong.
It should also be understood that more gas is not always better than less gas. As a general rule, the cold loop works best with more gas inside it, as denser gases have an easier time radiating heat, while the hot loop absorbs heat more easily with less gas. While the most common setup is 2:1 with hydrogen, alternatives such as 1:2, 2:4 and so on are all perfectly workable.
Radiation collector arrays
Often referred to as RCAs, these devices may be installed close to the core to harness some of its radiation output as extra energy. They work best when placed very close to the core, generally right up against its windows, to catch more of the radiation. You can scavenge a few RCAs from Maintenance, or, if you can convince the Deck Chief to be helpful, order them from Supply under the label "Collector Crate".
Setting up an RCA is a relatively simple matter: simply drag it over to where you want it, wrench it into place, turn it on, insert a phoron tank, and wire it up to the main power lines.
Engineering Storage contains some spare parts for SMES units. You can scavenge a total of six regular coils, six transmission coils and six capacitance coils from around the various storage rooms. For details on how to use these to upgrade the SMES units, see the SMES page.
This is fairly rare, but entirely possible, and can provide a substantial boost in power if the ship is feeling especially thirsty. You can order parts for another TEG from Supply, assemble it within the engine room, and wire it up. So long as the pipes are appropriately attached, it should function identically to the pre-installed units.
If you are running a particularly high-pressure setup, then you will need to be mindful of the pressure threshold at which the pipes will rupture. Replacing the pumps to waste with pressure regulators can give you an automatic correction if the coolant gets too hot, and therefore has too high a pressure. This needs to be done before the hot or cold loops are filled, as you cannot unwrench a pump while its adjacent pipes have a high pressure. Note that this will result in a reduction of the number of moles of coolant within the loops, and this may not be desirable. Of course, this is less of an issue than the pipes bursting and filling the engine room with dangerously hot gases. ;
It is worth mentioning that different gasses can be used to run the engine. If you dare to choose another gas, don't forget to adjust the coolant filtration.
(Standard) Hydrogen is the standard coolant and the one that most Engineers are likely to use. It has a much higher heat capacity than CO2 or N2, which means that the engine will run at low temperatures while producing a reasonable amount of power. However, hydrogen, unlike carbon dioxide, is not inert, and when combined with oxygen in the core, will combine to create water vapor, slowly siphoning off your coolant. Hydrogen will also easily catch fire. This will result in many brief flash fires within the reactor core itself, which are perfectly safe under normal circumstances but which can quickly become extremely lethal in the case of a reactor breach. By default, the omni-filters are set to filter hydrogen.
Nitrogen is the worst of the gases available for use in the engine. It does not absorb or emit heat well, and does not react strongly with the Supermatter, which results in nitrogen engine configurations running at high temperatures while simultaneously failing to produce the amount of power afforded by other setups. The only advantage to using nitrogen as your gas of choice is that it's cheap and plentiful.
Carbon dioxide is a single step up from nitrogen in terms of usability. It handles heat more easily, meaning that the engine will both run at a lower temperature and produce more power. It is still not particularly efficient, but it is better than nitrogen and safer than oxygen or phoron in the case of a reactor breach.
Gaseous phoron is hard to come by, and has double the heat capacity of hydrogen - because of this, a phoron setup will take twice as long to get to the same temperature. Phoron will also react violently with oxygen at high temperatures in a similar manner to hydrogen. It is especially important to make sure that the gas filters are working properly when using a phoron setup, as the Supermatter will continually bleed trace amounts of oxygen into the hot loop, which must be flushed away. When compared to hydrogen, it produces the same amount of power at a slightly higher average temperature.
Using oxygen as coolant results in lower engine output, extreme flammability, and a runaway chain reaction in the core. In other words, do not use oxygen. Its only correct use is cold start as described in the Maintenance and emergencies section of this guide.
Nitrous oxide handles at a lower temperature than nitrogen, but it is also an oxidizer, which reacts violently with phoron and the Supermatter. It's a step up from pure oxygen, but it's burned off into pure nitrogen very quickly and is really only useful as a novelty.
Note that running the Supermatter with Phoron or carbon dioxide in the hot loop will result in a pressure buildup that may require monitoring, as it will not be scrubbed. However, this is unlikely to be an issue unless you are operating at very high crystal EER or high pressures.
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