23 August 2018

Where Does All That Heat Go

Traveller is a space opera, it's just unusual because it's a self-consistent space opera.

It wasn't afraid to let the chips fall where the consequences take them.

It leads to some oddities.

Like how much fuel that power plant is devouring.  FuzzyGeff, with his tasty chess club brain, did the math and determined that using normal H+H -> He fusion the thing was making enough power to run the entire planet c1987.

Once GURPS takes the reins some real numbers in megawatts start being applied, and there's no fuel consumption.  Yes, there is, but it's self-contained in the power plant (which are much larger than Traveller LBB units) and lasts for years.

In Traveller's case, we surmised that ships were venting most of that hydrogen as a means of cooling the plant, but we didn't have a clue what the output was so we didn't know how much heat was being made.

In GURPS: Traveller (GT), though, we do have wattage, so we could figure out how much heat is present.

It's a lot.

Make the insides of such tiny ships uninhabitable in a really short period of time hot.

A later, harder-sci-fi, GURPS setting, Transhuman Space (THS), has gigantic radiators in the ship design rules to allow all this waste heat to be shed.

Since both GT and THS use a modularized version of the Vehicles rules, you can see that GT isn't providing near enough surface area to keep things cooled off.

But then it hit me:  Every instance of a powerplant in GT has a reactionless maneuver drive with it.

What if the reactionless drives, which already ass-rape physics the old way (dick dipped in resin and rolled in ground glass), get colder when operating?

This makes the maneuver drive the cryogenic plant for keeping the power plant from melting the ship and also keeps the fuel for the jump drive liquid.

Et voila!


  1. Reactionless drive also gives you a lot of options for recovering waste heat, because you can afford the weight for them. Feed it into a good waste heat engine, and then either use the power, or pump it into something like a magnetron (or some ultra-tech superior equivalent) that can actively radiate it into space rather than having to rely on passive heat sink radiation.

    That's my method for making physics cry a little bit less, although it's still subject to the pain of Reactionless Drive (which includes a physics-capped speed limit because no kinetic kill without doing it the hard way) and FTL (Which generally includes flavors of psuedovelocity for the same reasons)

  2. Ever since the introduction of 'reactionless drive' in the 2nd edition of the LBBs, yet all the ships still had some sort of nozzles at the rear, I always assumed that part of the cooling system was blowing heat out the rear using some of the fuel as a cooling source. I mean, there has to be some reason for the stuff at the rear, besides some sort of emergency reactor scram tubes or such.


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