Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

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Mauslag PIngman
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Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by Mauslag PIngman »

All of a sudden I have a brownout. The nuclear plant was producing about twice as much power as I was using and I hadn't been messing with it. The only thing I did this week was take thousands of spent fuel away and fill up four steel chests with fresh fuel. A few days ago I stopped moving steam from the nuke to a distant base. My heat pipes are at 800 when they're the furthest out. I have 8 water pumps feeding 8 reactors. I added some more water pumps since. 61 heat exchangers with the lowest one being 698 degrees. I recently added speed mod 1 to about 12 beacons working on pumpjacks.

So what has happened to all the power that I thought I had?

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by Koub »

Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 3:25 am
So what has happened to all the power that I thought I had?
I guess it's not there, if you get brownouts.
Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by Mauslag PIngman »

I picked up lots of steam storage containers and then I picked up steam turbines that weren't producing. After awhile and it was quite a delay, the power went up and my huge number of accumulators filled. Its like 6.7 gigajoules or something, about 500 accumulators. I should have started to add steam turbines at that point but I was busy doing something else and I went back down to brownout territory. Annoying how it doesn't give me a clue. Somebody in a forum said that too many turbines suck steam out of the system and then you get no power. Makes no sense to me. Wouldn't they have built in devices to insure that kind of thing wouldn't happen?

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by foamy »

Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:53 am
Somebody in a forum said that too many turbines suck steam out of the system and then you get no power. Makes no sense to me. Wouldn't they have built in devices to insure that kind of thing wouldn't happen?
Turbines only consume steam if they actually need it to produce power, so there's been some misunderstanding along the way.

Unfortunately it's difficult to troubleshoot without images of your reactor and your electrical graphs. Do the turbines have steam available? Do you reactors have fuel available? Are they clogged with spent fuel? What's the heat in your heat pipes by your furthest exchangers? Do you have water available to the exchangers, and how much?

One thing I've noticed is that sometimes the fluid network gets confused and doesn't properly deliver water to the exchangers. Usually mining the weird ones up and re-placing them will fix it.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by astroshak »

One thing to also bear in mind is the increased power draw in machinery affected by modules, whether from insertion or via beacon.

8 reactors in a 2x4 setup only generates 1120 MW of power. That calls for 112 steam turbines, which need 60 steam/sec each. That means 65 and roughly a quarter heat exchangers, round up to 66. 6 or 7 offshore pumps. Other automatable reactor configurations will produce less power, and require less machinery to obtain that power.

Does your plant match those numbers?

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by SoShootMe »

astroshak wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 2:11 pm
8 reactors in a 2x4 setup only generates 1120 MW of power. That calls for 112 steam turbines, which need 60 steam/sec each. That means 65 and roughly a quarter heat exchangers, round up to 66. 6 or 7 offshore pumps.
I think you mixed up heat exchanger (10MW) and steam turbine powers (5.82MW). A 2x4 setup can provide 1120MW (assuming neighbour bonus is maximised) but that needs 112 heat exchangers, 193 (rounded up) steam turbines, and at least 10 offshore pumps.

https://wiki.factorio.com/Tutorial:Nucl ... hbor_bonus

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by Mauslag PIngman »

This plant worked great for more than a week. Lots of fuel, 4 stainless chests of fuel and there is room for spent fuel to exit. I checked each reactor and they all have fresh fuel up to about 6 or 7 and plenty more on the belts that circle the reactors. The number of turbines I had the power chart told me I was using about 650 mw and I had up to about 1200 available with 8 reactors.

I'm playing on peaceful and I had no interactions with biters for a long time, but the way I found out I had an electrical power problem was when I suddenly got attacked by biters on a causeway about a mile from the edge of my main factories. There were a couple hundred biters attacking this artificial island I'd built and covered with steam storage, turbines and other things. This was all connected to the main electrical supply but this decomissioned artillery base was way out of range of nests. Why were the biters even here in a peaceful game? I went out there and finished them off and they'd wrecked a lot of storage containers full of artillery shells, rr track and power poles and the generators and also some lasers even though they were on their own island. I didn't need the power from this firebase. It was just there to supply turrets if poles to the mainland were taken out.

I don't know why this would cause my nuclear plant to lose power but first I looked at the red X on the bottom of the screen and watched as the number went up from 1 to 2 to 40 entities being attacked. Then I noticed the power was low. I looked at the action on the radar and biters were attacking a tiny island with dead purple laser turrets, about 3 and the big pole. So I went racing out there and killed them with my personal lasers and lots of jumping in the loco and driving away from them and then backing up again. Track being replaced constantly. 200 biters is nothing compared to the biters that my base easily handled when I was using artillery. I got attacked by thousands in waves of 200 and the power never wavered because I have 500 or more accumulators.

Is the game bugged? Is this a feature where the peaceful bugs go violent after 100 hours into the game and nuclear plant needs total replacement? Really, that wouldn't be a bad feature but not knowing if its a feature makes me think the game is just broken and impossible. I kind of liked not having to worry about power and fuel for power for weeks at a time.

I'd also like to point out that I can't see through steam. There is a lot of steam being vented by existing steam turbines. Its hard to see anything else. Nice how with the map you can turn off the pollution so you can see. Should have the same with steam, an ability to see through it so I can properly check connections. I have thousands of miners, assemblers and furnaces working as well as thousands of inserters, speed mods, productivity mods. I had just installed a bunch of speed mods and beacons on pumpjacks. At the time there was about 600mw available for new stuff so I'm sure the 15 beacons I erected didn't tax the system excessively. Really, I'm not sure anymore. Somehow I reached a tipping point.

Another odd thing is that I think the plant used up more fuel cells during this crisis than it did while things were running smoothly. Makes no sense to me.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by Laie »

Have you checked the 10-hour plot of your power needs? Perhaps demand has simply outgrown production. It happens.

If your plant appears to work fine but produces less power than it should, it is likely that the pipes cannot provide enough throughput.
Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 5:12 pm
This plant worked great for more than a week.
Which plant? A picture would be useful, a blueprint even more so. I find this site to be quite convenient for sharing blueprints.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by Impatient »

Are you seriously asking for help to solve a problem or to answer a question? Because the way you write sound more like you want to tell the story about your epic adventure.

Actually telling the story instead of disguising it as questions and context might serve you better then.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by Impatient »

Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 5:12 pm
... I had just installed a bunch of speed mods and beacons on pumpjacks. ...
Before you do that: Have you put productivity modules in your science labs?
Rule of thumb: use modules and beacons on the most expensive process in the production chain first -> biggest savings for least additional cost.
Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 5:12 pm
I'd also like to point out that I can't see through steam. There is a lot of steam being vented by existing steam turbines. Its hard to see anything else.
Can be deactivated it in the graphics settings.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by foamy »

Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 5:12 pm
Is the game bugged? Is this a feature where the peaceful bugs go violent after 100 hours into the game and nuclear plant needs total replacement?
No, neither of those are known bugs nor features. There's something else going on in your game.

I'd also like to point out that I can't see through steam. There is a lot of steam being vented by existing steam turbines. Its hard to see anything else.

Yeah, you're not wrong, but check and make sure those turbines have steam. That's step 1 of chasing down your issues. (Step 0 is checking your electrical overlay over the last, say, 1h or 10h, to see if you can spot demand spikes or supply crashes.)

Again, screencaps of your exact reactor layout and your electrical history charts would help a great deal in troubleshooting this. That you say you've started encountering this after adding additional load suggests you've hit a reactor bottleneck you weren't aware of.

If the turbines on the end are getting enough steam to run, you've simply outgrown the plant (or have a busted electrical connection somewhere). If they aren't, you have an internal reactor bottleneck, which is usually caused by fluid flow restrictions. Check and make sure your thermal exchangers are getting enough water and heat. If they are, but you don't have steam in the turbines, it means your steam piping is inadequate. If they aren't getting enough water, it means you either aren't supplying enough water -- you need essentially one offshore pump for every 12 exchangers (~97% of nominal exchanger output) -- or there's a flow bottleneck caused by too many pipes without pump assistance. If they aren't getting enough heat, but your reactors are running fine, it means you've got too many heat pipes between the reactors and your exchangers.


(Additionally, there is a bug where sometimes mass-bot-stamped fluid networks do unexpected things. If you have an exchanger that doesn't have water but the one in front of it is fully stocked, that's a glitch. Mine the exchanger up and replace it to fix it.)


Another odd thing is that I think the plant used up more fuel cells during this crisis than it did while things were running smoothly. Makes no sense to me.
From your description of the cell counts in the reactor it sounds like you're running an unrestricted reactor, which will always consume cells at a constant rate unless starved of input. If so this is just a mistaken impression. If you are running a smart reactor, increased load will result in increased cell consumption and is exactly what you want to be happening.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by Mauslag PIngman »

Impatient wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:23 pm
Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 5:12 pm
... I had just installed a bunch of speed mods and beacons on pumpjacks. ...
Before you do that: Have you put productivity modules in your science labs?
Rule of thumb: use modules and beacons on the most expensive process in the production chain first -> biggest savings for least additional cost.
Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 5:12 pm
I'd also like to point out that I can't see through steam. There is a lot of steam being vented by existing steam turbines. Its hard to see anything else.
Can be deactivated it in the graphics settings.
I put modules on the pumpjacks because I'd run out of petroleum gas and the brown oil and gold oil and was low on crude as well. I was hoping they'd pump up more crude and fix everything but realized i'd probably have to set up trains to bring crude from another place too. I did set up trains to bring in petroleum gas, but not nearly enough. So no, wasn't concerned about science modules at all and was instead working on the current crisis. I'll keep it in mind though.

I'll also take a look at the settings and see if I can turn off the steam. Your info is useful and appreciated.

I've reconnected the fuel lines to my conventional powerplants and am now producing 630mw out of 1.5GW. My accumulators are at 6.7GJ out of 6.7GJ. I want to turn off those old coal fired powerplants though.

I read a thread about nuclear efficiency and maybe the main thing I got out of it is that the reactors have to be started at the same time in order to get the bonuses. I don't see why that would be necessary. Is that true? Am I also supposed to set all my inserters to put in just one fuel cell at a time? How am I supposed to know this stuff? His english isn't that good. One thing that was said is that if the fuel cells aren't put in at the same time it could start a death spiral. Is that what happened to my reactor?

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by quale »

Inserting one fuel cell helps regulated reactors, so you can shut them off fairly soon if they aren’t needed for the moment.

Inserting in all reactors at the same time ensures you’ll get the neighbor bonus all the way through. It’s especially helpful in regulated reactors (with the challenge of buffering all that energy) because those start and stop a lot, but it can help any design in case of a fuel shortage. It isn’t that you don’t get the bonus while neighboring reactors are active, but if you don’t insert at the same time the runs aren’t guaranteed to overlap. You might insert a fuel cell in one reactor, and after 100 seconds insert a fuel cell into the other reactor (whether by choice or because you’re running out), and then not insert something for a while. The first 100 seconds will be just the first reactor without a bonus. Only the next 100 seconds get the bonus. The final 100 seconds will be just the second reactor without the bonus. In the end, you will only have produced 75% of the energy a 2-reactor design is capable of. If you have a shortage, things will go from bad to worse very quickly.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by SoShootMe »

Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:03 pm
I read a thread about nuclear efficiency and maybe the main thing I got out of it is that the reactors have to be started at the same time in order to get the bonuses. I don't see why that would be necessary. Is that true? Am I also supposed to set all my inserters to put in just one fuel cell at a time? How am I supposed to know this stuff? His english isn't that good. One thing that was said is that if the fuel cells aren't put in at the same time it could start a death spiral. Is that what happened to my reactor?
The neighbour bonus on reactors considers only active neighbours. A "fuel-saving" multi-reactor power plant is designed to not have reactors active all the time, according to demand, and obviously you want to maximise neighbour bonus. To do the latter you must insert fuel into all reactors at the same time. Only inserting one uranium fuel cell at a time makes it easier to ensure. Considering only maximising neighbour bonus, it would be fine to insert more than one (as long the same number are inserted into each reactor) but that would mean the reactors will run for longer, which could waste fuel due to them reaching maximum temperature if power demand is low.

Whether you have a fuel-saving power plant or not, inadequate (or disruption to) fuel cell supply could cause some reactors to not be active, reducing the total power output from the reactors - usually disproportionately significantly due to loss of the neighbour bonuses. If this causes power demand to exceed supply, it is likely that fuel cell production will be reduced, making the problem worse: a death spiral.

You need to provide a save if you want the best chance of somebody figuring out what happened in your case.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by astroshak »

SoShootMe wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 2:33 pm
astroshak wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 2:11 pm
8 reactors in a 2x4 setup only generates 1120 MW of power. That calls for 112 steam turbines, which need 60 steam/sec each. That means 65 and roughly a quarter heat exchangers, round up to 66. 6 or 7 offshore pumps.
I think you mixed up heat exchanger (10MW) and steam turbine powers (5.82MW). A 2x4 setup can provide 1120MW (assuming neighbour bonus is maximised) but that needs 112 heat exchangers, 193 (rounded up) steam turbines, and at least 10 offshore pumps.

https://wiki.factorio.com/Tutorial:Nucl ... hbor_bonus
Ok, yea, that’s what I get for typing on my phone while at work.
SoShootMe wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 8:04 pm
The neighbour bonus on reactors considers only active neighbours. A "fuel-saving" multi-reactor power plant is designed to not have reactors active all the time, according to demand, and obviously you want to maximise neighbour bonus. To do the latter you must insert fuel into all reactors at the same time. Only inserting one uranium fuel cell at a time makes it easier to ensure. Considering only maximising neighbour bonus, it would be fine to insert more than one (as long the same number are inserted into each reactor) but that would mean the reactors will run for longer, which could waste fuel due to them reaching maximum temperature if power demand is low.
Fuel saving reactor setups (a waste of time assuming you have a good Kovarex setup going) generally only insert 1 fuel cell into each reactor, simultaneously with the rest of the reactors. Low demand is not a problem, because they have enough Storage Tanks for all the Steam. Low demand just means that the Steam gets consumed less speedily, resulting in a longer time before the reactors get fed another fuel cell.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by foamy »

Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:03 pm

I read a thread about nuclear efficiency and maybe the main thing I got out of it is that the reactors have to be started at the same time in order to get the bonuses. I don't see why that would be necessary. Is that true? Am I also supposed to set all my inserters to put in just one fuel cell at a time? How am I supposed to know this stuff? His english isn't that good. One thing that was said is that if the fuel cells aren't put in at the same time it could start a death spiral. Is that what happened to my reactor?
A big thing that impacts nuclear reactor efficiency is something called a 'neighbour bonus'; essentially, if a nuclear reactor is operating, and both aligned with, and directly next to, another operating nuclear reactor, both reactors will output more heat for a given fuel cell.

A 2x2 nuclear setup doesn't produce four times as much power as a single reactor, as you might expect; with neighbour bonuses, it produces twelve times as much (480MW v. 40MW).

In general, then, people try to make a reactor surrounded by as many other operating nuclear reactors as possible, in order to maximize those bonuses. A reactor that isn't operating means that it isn't supplying bonuses to everything around it, so it regulated reactor designs, fuel cell insertion is synchronized so that every reactor in the array is either working -- and therefore providing and receiving full bonuses -- or is off altogether, and therefore not consuming fuel.

From your comments earlier about having lots of fuel in the reactors, it would seem you're not using a regulated design, so that should not be a concern unless your overall supply of cells is starting to stutter -- which you've also said is not the case. So it doesn't sound like that is the culprit.

(Note: While regulated designs are a nice little engineering thing and I enjoy 'em, other commenters have said and will say that they're unnecessary, and they're completely correct, so you don't need to worry about that.)


However, once again, I need to ask for pictures. PRNT_SCRN or a Steam's screenshot feature or whatever, but without actually looking at your actual on-the-ground design I dunno if there's much more anyone can do to help you out here.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by SoShootMe »

astroshak wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 9:04 pm
SoShootMe wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 2:33 pm
Considering only maximising neighbour bonus, it would be fine to insert more than one (as long the same number are inserted into each reactor) but that would mean the reactors will run for longer, which could waste fuel due to them reaching maximum temperature if power demand is low.
Fuel saving reactor setups (a waste of time assuming you have a good Kovarex setup going) generally only insert 1 fuel cell into each reactor, simultaneously with the rest of the reactors. Low demand is not a problem, because they have enough Storage Tanks for all the Steam. Low demand just means that the Steam gets consumed less speedily, resulting in a longer time before the reactors get fed another fuel cell.
I didn't explain very well. You're right of course that fuel-saving designs have heat/steam energy storage to avoid wasting fuel when there is low demand, but they do not usually have enough for this to be true when inserting multiple fuel cells per reactor simultaneously, because there are reasons to minimise that storage. Put another way, inserting either one or multiple fuel cells simultaneously is sufficient to maximise neighbour bonus, but inserting only one also minimises required heat/steam storage.

Having "a good Kovarex setup going" should mean uranium fuel cell supply is not an issue, but non-fuel-saving designs practically guarantee a reactor will explode if destroyed, whereas this will rarely (if ever) occur with most fuel-saving designs. But that's a very small benefit in practice... the main benefit I can see is that for some it's more fun, which trumps everything :).

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by Mauslag PIngman »

I think I know why I got that mysterious biter attack that started the whole overloaded electrical system problem. I must have stopped a loaded artillery train car somewhere for longer than I intended and it must have been in range of some distant biters. It opened fire because it was stopped so long and loaded with shells and the biters were so far away that they took a long time to get to where my train used to be. By the time they got there my train was gone and so it looked like a random attack. Artillery wagons should have a lock on their firing mechanism so I can drive through biter country without fear that I'll open fire unintentionally.

By now the whole powerplant is different and working once again. I got my old coal plants working which brought the power up and then when the steam storage on my nukes was full I added more steam turbines and storage. That's all that was needed, lots of running around. The coal plants are turned off again. I added more heat exchangers to my nuke plant, but I think there's room for more.

I'm not good at circuits at this point. All I can control is one light. I'm interested in circuits, but the way they're explained has always confused me. I think its a language and customs of the language, problem. I'm interested in circuits, but I prefer the things I construct are necessary and doing something important or at least really cool.

I won't post a picture of my plant, but maybe I'll start a multiplayer and leave it running later. Usually if someone joins they'll just wreck things. The game will be called Pingman's Trains. The game is up but I'm not there so take a look around or blow up some biters if you want.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by astroshak »

Artillery Wagons will fire if the train is in manual or stopped at a station while in automatic. They will not fire if the train is in automatic but the train is stopped outside of a station, such as for a red signal or waiting at a temporary stop, or “no path” or “destination full” warnings are flying regarding the train.

Knowing what let’s the artillery fire and what does not is valuable for avoiding that attack you suffered.

As far as circuits go, simpler stuff is just that, simple. I suspect you would have no problems using circuit network stuff to control cracking heavy oil into light or light oil into petroleum. I suspect that if you cannot already, circuit controlled train stations will not be too hard to set up either. With those, it’s not any real leap to smart reactors, should you want them. What do they have in common? It’s pretty much all “X compared to Y to activate or set Z.

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Re: Nuclear plant brownouts after working fine for weeks

Post by Mauslag PIngman »

So I can probably leave it in automatic but have to select passenger on board for the previous stop and then the train will be auto but not moving or at a station. A simple off/ on switch for firing artillery would be more convenient.

At the same time pandemonium caused by automatic stuff can be "exciting" and lead to a lot of fun "trying to get control again" stuff.

I have no understanding of the circuits and wiring because the old tutorial was no good for me and I don't think they even have that anymore. I also didn't get it after watching a lot of youtubes on the subject. I've just been working around it. I'm not happy about that, but its better than constant frustration.

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