NEWEST SUBLIGHT IMPULSE PROPULSION SYSTEM UNVEILED
Developed according to Star Fleet specification 8C5.233.D6D
The Firelight Impulse Drive
By Marion Warton, Lt. Commander, Star Fleet Technology Section, 070
In December 2370, Star Fleet Command released a new impulse propulsion system specification that demanded a more efficient use of hydrogen fuel and more inertial output from field vectored ports. In addition, new ramp-up requirements called for the ability to reach the an inertial acceleration of 14 km/sec2 within a period of less than 8 seconds.
In response to this new definition, 070 power plant specialist have developed the "Firelight" drive, an impulse drive system that was recently tested on a Galaxy class test bed starship used by Utopia Planitia for advanced power plant and tactical system studies. The system easily exceeded all of Star Fleetís specifications.
This abstract will give the reader an overview of this new technology.
Advantages of the Firelight system over current installed IPSs.
Near Light Speeds are attainable with the use of a single vectored exhaust component. Previous specific-impulse and fusion impulse drives required the use of three non-vectored exhaust ports to attain speeds over .75c.
Increased supercooled deuterium fuel efficiency attained through the addition of secondary liquefied cobalt seeded liquefied triterium fuel supply.
Increased fusion conversion efficiency due to the improved design of the Impulse Reaction Chamber and the enhanced quality of the pellets of combined deuterium & triterium which are created with a 38% decrease in energy requirements over previous technologies.
Net gain of 18%-21% in sub-light craft maneuverability due to use of field vectored exhaust ports.
Fuel supplies for the Firelight IPS as tested utilized the large primary deuterium tank contained in the tactical/engineering section of the spacecraft, which was part of the original fusion impulse propulsion system. The thirty two auxiliary tanks were retrofitted with the additional sub-space refrigerant systems required to maintain the liquid triterium-cobalt seeding supply. All fuel handling duties are handled by a combination of redundant system cross feeds as well as multiple computer routines carried out by the ships main computer system.
Since the deuterium fuel supply in the PDT is utilized by the shipís Warp Propulsion System in addition to the IPS, the triterium-cobalt seeding takes place in a chamber connected directly to the fusion reaction chamber. So for this reason, the deuterium is maintained in a slush state, at a temperature under 13.8į K, to maximize load capacity. Liquefied deuterium takes up far more space if stored in that difficult to manage state. The refrigeration process provides the advantages of both better safety profile and increased design efficiency.
All of the tanks in the system are primarily constructed of a forced-matrix cortanium 2378 and stainless steel. The auxiliary tanks, now providing the primary triterium fuel storage, are further reinforced with a composite duranium-irradiated borium silicate outer shell, for additional reinforcement and containment purposes. Specialized cross feeds and vent lines, as well as system sensors were all constructed externally and installed via transporter at Utopia Planitia. Each triterium tank has an internal volume of 113 M2 and stores a total of 9.3 metric tons of cobalt-seeded liquefied deuterium.
The system that was utilized in the originally fitted IPS to inject minute amounts of antimatter into the impulse reaction chamber for additional emergency acceleration or power was removed, being entirely unnecessary with the Firelight IPS. This was a perfect trade off for the new triterium seeding injection system, which in terms of mass and configuration fitted much of the IPS antimatter injection systemís framing.
Firelight IPS configuration
The main impulse engine (MIE) is located in the space of the original MIE on the testbedís deck 23. In fact, the Firelight drive motors take up only about 75% of the space of their earlier designed cousins. This is deep in the heart of the tactical-engineering hull. The original IPS engines were removed from the saucer section as well, to be replaced by the new Firelight drive motors. Each Firelight drive motor consists of six essential components; the triterium seeding reaction chamber (TSRC, 2 per motor impulse reaction chambers (IRC, 4 per motor), accelerator/generator assembly (A/G), dual driver coil assembly (2DCA),) mechanical vectored exhaust assembly (MVEA), and the field induced vectoring enhancement assembly (FIVE-A).
Each of the two triterium seeding reaction chambers are armored, multifaceted octagonal chambers with a single injector port for the cobalt seeded triterium exudate to coat the frozen deuterium pellet, which is then irradiated by the muon impulse proton initiator on the underside of the TSRC vessel itself. Depending on the amount of triterium deposited on the external facets of the deuterium pellet, there is a substantial increase in power output during the fusion reaction in the IRC. The TSRC is constructed of stainless steel reinforced duranium outer shell, and an internal irradiant compressor shell of matrix injected excelinide/dianium composite. Total wall thickness is 665 cm.
Each impulse reaction chamber is an armored, field supported sphere just over six meters is diameter, designed to allow for containment and directing of the energy released in a conventional proton based fusion reaction. It is constructed of twelve layers of dispersion-strengthened hafnium excelinide/dianium composite for a total wall thickness of 712 cm. An inner lining of crystalline gulium flouride, under 35 com thick protects the actual sphere structure for the decaying effects of real time and sub-space radiation effects. Several junction penetrations are forged into the sphere for the triterium activated pellet injectors, reaction exhaust, high efficiency fusion initiators and system sensors.
Slush deuterium from the main cyro tank is heated and fed into the same interim supply tanks utilized by the previous IPS and the currently installed WPS. The re-heat system is located on Deck 9. This bring the dueterium and titerium mixture to be brought down to a real time frozen state from the supercooled state, where it is now formed into pellet form. Like the earlier IPS designs, the pellet size is critical in determining the power output of the Firelight IPS. However, with the variable intensity controls for the triterium energizing process, there is now an additional degree of engine output control. For purposes of our test, this system was in place as a back-up for output control based on pellet firing architecture.
High energy engine discharge plasma created during motor utilization is vented through another opening in the sphere, directly into the accelerator/generator. This is a typical A/G subsystem, 3.1 meters in length and 5.8 meters in diameter, constructed almost entirely of a crystal integral single-crystal polyduranium frame and combined pyrovunide exhaust accelerator. During drive operations the accelerator is initialized, increasing plasma velocity and pressing it on towards the space-time driver coils (2DCA). If the system is powered down to power operations exclusivity mode (POE mode), the accelerator is shut down and the energy flow is diverted into the EPS for distribution throughout the shipís overall power distribution grid. The total instantaneous power output of the IRC alone can be trhottled from 107 to 1014 megawatts. After acceleration, this can be increased to a level of between 1011 to 1016 megawatts. This is among the highest IPS outputs ever encountered, even in recent envelope pushing experimental designs.
The next stage of the IPS motor is the dual driver coal assembly (2DCA). The 2DCA is 14.6 meters long, and 5.3 meters in diameter, consisting of a series of 14 split toroids cast from cast vertanium cortenide 934, 7 each in a dual in-line V configuration. Energy from the hyperaccelerated engine plasma is driven through the toroids, imparting a very powerful variation of the field effect that both reduces the apparent mass of the inner surface of the spacecraft and facilitates the slippage of the continuum past the spacecraft at itís external surface.
The mechanical vectored exhaust assembly (MVEA) is a vectored exhaust director (VED) similar in both function and design to those employed on current IPSs. Essentially, a VED consist of a series of highly reinforced moveable vanes designed to expel the exhaust in a controlled vectored manner, facilitating directional control of the spacecraft.
The final component of the Firelight IPS is the field induced vectoring enhancement assembly (FIVE-A), a coil type device (although the coils is squared off) which generates a sub-space energy field that further directs the output of the IPS exhaust port output, adding as much as 23į in angular velocity during turns in subspace propulsion mode. The FIVE-A is approximately 26 meters long, and squared off at 11.5 meters in width. The field inducement system utilizes main system power with multiple redundant power supply systems.
IPS control systems
Like itís predecessors, the Firelight IPS is commanded through the ships primary computer system, the actual processor subroutine being substantially larger than that for a typical IPS. Like the warp propulsion systemís command processors, the Firelightís genetic algorithms are capable of self improvement and adjustment, in addition to newly highly acclaimed maintenance routines. These systems can analyze tactical systems utilization and learn to anticipate the power output and vectoring requirements of the progressive tactical scenario. In addition, the utilization of neural gel packs allows for quicker command system interpretation and adjustment while pre-calculating up to 124,000 tactical response scenarios.
Engineering operations and safety
Maintenance schedules for the Firelight IPS motor hardware are substantially wider than that utilized currently for IPS maintenance routines. Our calculations for mean time between failures (MTBF) were nearly double that of current production IPSs, due to improved metallic engineering composites and casting, as well as design enhancements.
While the gulium fluoride material that is used for the inner lining of much of the system still requires monitoring for erosive decomposition, the addition of gallium stanoustentate to the composite during the casting process provides a much more durable product that that in current production designs. While normal liners are changed out at 10,000 hours of use, or after 0.0.1mm of ablative lining is eroded away, or if more than >fractures per cm2 measuring 0.02 mm or more are formed, whichever occurs first, the newly designed composite allows change out at between 12,000 and 16,000 hours of use, or if any of the above noted mechanical conditions occur first.
Safety issues are mandated throughout the running of any fusion reaction system, but it is much more so in such a powerful controlled energy reaction for propulsion purposes- a controlled hydrogen warhead explosion. While hardware limits can be easily reached and exceeded in this system, computer based controls prevent the running of any one motor at more than 120% energy-thrust output and can only be operated at 101% to 120%, only when generated along a power slope of t=p3¶ ≥EXz=a/M2.
The Firelight IPS requires about the same amount of maintenance man-hours as a starshipís WPS, a great improvement over current production schedules, which require about 1.6 times as many man hours than the WPS. Thermal and acoustics stress shave been reduced substantially through field controls and plasma flow improvement technologies. Still, while warp engine output is millions of times more powerful than that of the Firelight system, like any IPS, warp is attained with less structural stress than the IPS. However, to produce a warp drive that produces the kind of low power output of required for an IPS would require hardware far more substantive than that required for the impulse propulsion system.