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Starship Technical Manual - The Fusion Plant

Fusion Plant

All fusion plants have basically the same components. Large plants might be dispersed into several sub-assemblies. Small craft and low tonnage jump vessels typically have an integrated powerplant with all of the major components on a single skid.

This TL10 design is a six stage ball lightning fusion plant. It is an example of an integrated design used in a 200 dton vessel. Larger vessels may have many main and auxiliary fusion plants. Small craft often have plants without supplementary power turbines and steam generators.

The fusion reaction takes place in the Containment Vessel. The vessel is a highly rigid structure typically constructed of superdense metal, inlaid with superconducting field coils.

The Cold Fusion Ignition Manifold transports heavy hydrogen from the Deuterium Warm Start Reservoir (DWSR) to the Containment Vessel. This heavy hydrogen is flashed in a low temperature "cold fusion" burst to supply the initial energy pulse to establish the fusion reaction.

In the Power Transfer Circuit the fusing plasma is passed through a Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) system. MDH is used to directly produce electric power for ship systems. Some of this power can be directed to energy storage cells for use during emergencies or to supplement the power plant during high usage periods, such as during combat.

High-pressure argon is used in the Thermal Transfer Circuit. The TTC provides cooling to the containment vessel. A primary loop is used to transfer heat to a secondary system that radiates heat to radiator strips on the hull, (the reason so many spacecraft designs have "fins".) Turbine generators in the coolant circuit produce supplementary power and low-pressure steam for ship systems.

A seperate Helium Purge system removes waster helium from the containment system. On small craft and spacecraft this byproduct is generally discarded. On jump ships waste helium is retained for use in the ship's cryogenic systems.

As already explained the Deuterium Warm Start Reservoir, often referred to as the "Ignition module," holds the supply of deuterium-enriched fuel prior to warm-start of the reactor.

TL12 Fusion Plant

The TL12 six stage tokomak design pictured above contains the same fundamental components as the TL10 fusion plant previously discussed. The major difference in the design is the use of the vertical toroidal containment vessels. Each vessel is independently triggered. This design has a higher output kilo for kilo than the earlier "ball Lightning" design. Details of the torus design can be seen to the left.

The superconducting field coils form the magnetic bottle that contains the fusion reaction. High temperature superconducting material, of a much higher quality than that used for standard power transmission, is used. Magnetic valves direct the fusion plasma flow to the MHD and the heat exchanger for the primary cooling loop.