Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

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Jürgen Erhard
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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Jürgen Erhard » Sun Nov 13, 2016 9:41 am

rolfl wrote:Many early boiler setups use a mechanism of taking coal off a belt, placing it in the boiler, and then on the other side have another inserter removing the coal and placing it in a parallel boiler - a-la:

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(Picture from: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=31605&start=0#p199340 )

With Steam being separated out the side it is going to significantly increase the footprint of early boiler systems.... requiring addiitonal pipe, belt, and inserter space.

I expect this is going to be a problem ;-)
Never seen such a setup before. But then again, I do my own things pretty much always.

But what I do that this will screw up *royally* is to have parallel rows of boilers/engines, with one water pipe source, and with the spacing changed, I will have to tear everything down and rebuild. Great.

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by deadall127 » Sun Nov 13, 2016 9:47 am

poma wrote:IndustrialCraft mod for Minecraft has a very, very good nuclear reactor implementation
WHAT THE FUUUUUUUCK??? IndustrialCraft is the worst nuclear mod (because it's not only a nuclear mod, be careful, I don't say that the mod is bad)
AtomicScience is the best minecraft nuclear mod EVER, just look at beautiful reactors on google after typing "minecraft atomic science" ;)

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Vinnie_NL » Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:05 am

Cellidor wrote:Again part of the "no explosions" party here in regards to nuclear power. As for "consequences to improper setup", Having a gradually worsening penalty for bad setups would be great, as it would give players time to react. What I figure would be an interesting idea would be if the plant had its own "heat dispersion rod" or heat vents, or some other kind of "dirty" way to dispose of too much excess heat. Here's what I'm picturing:

Green: Plant is having heat taken away from it at roughly the same rate it's making it, causing no major issues (the plant's own heat dispersion abilities would account for slight discrepancies).
Level of warning: None.

Yellow: Plant is producing more heat than is being processed. At this stage, the heat vents/rod are having to run at high speeds, which would cause a gradually increasing amount of pollution added per tick to the surrounding.
Level of warning: Visible, gradually increasing levels of pollution originating from plant visible from map.

Red: Plant is producing considerably excess levels of heat, beyond what its own heat-dispersion can handle. At this point, the plant will begin to slowly damage itself over time. Even at this level, it's theoretically manageable if the player has bots set up nearby able to move in and repair it (though repairs would be costly).
Level of warning: player would be getting pop-ups warning that the plant is being damaged.

Black: The plant is producing lethally high amounts of heat, to the point that it is no longer damaging just itself anymore. This phase would be short lived, but would cause high damage to itself, and any buildings close by, including logistic robots. Robots themselves, namely, those coming in to try and repair the plant, would be destroyed by the damage before actually reaching it, meaning that at this stage, it's only a matter of time before the plant shuts down. Once the plant reaches a threshold of health (say, 5%), it initiates a shut-down, needing to be both repaired and turned back on. This would mean that even at the worst, the player has only lost several logistic robots, and perhaps certain buildings around the plant.
Level of warning: multiple warnings about damaged buildings, along with any buildings/robots being destroyed.

By doing it this way you no longer punish players who are trying and testing different set-ups to learn about how the machine works, and more-so punishing those who don't properly experiment and instead assume it's working fine and walk away. It's something that provides far more power than just plopping down another bunch of solar panels, but only if you treat it right.
...
Well this sounds great to me, complex enough for the advanced players and it won't scare off the newer players that much. But I'm surprised why someone hasn't mentioned yet that you can just load a savegame when a meltdown occurs because of a wrong setup. Or you start experimenting with nuclear power in multiplayer, but then it's your own choice to live dangerously :)

I realize that their can be unforeseen situations as aliens destroying a water pipe so the cooling system stops or the train picking up the heat material barrels is stuck somewhere so the storage in the power plant is full. If you want to minimize damage for the small chance that something goes wrong and you're not around to fix it you can choose to build it not in the middle of your factory but somewhere else remote. I would look for a peninsula to build the reactor so there is water close and easy to defend from aliens. And to prevent that the water pumps (or any other critical part in the plant) lose power during a power outage I place accumulators around with a power switch between them and the main grid, so they aren't drained by the whole factory in case of power failure. I'm really looking forward to all the creative setups people think of. That's why I don't want it to become too simple.

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Karamel » Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:13 am

Since this is nuclear power, there needs to be waste management. I'm suggesting something like:

Tech: nuclear power

Furnace: uranium ore -> uranium
Assembler: uranium + iron plate -> fuel rod
Nuclear plant: fuel rod -> spent fuel rod + heat

Tech: nuclear reprocessing 1

Chemical plant: spent fuel rod + water -> high-radioactivity sludge
Chemical plant: high-radioactivity sludge-> mid-radioactivity sludge + uranium

Tech: nuclear reprocessing 2

Chemical plant: mid-radioactivity sludge -> high-radioactivity sludge + low-radioactivity sludge

Tech: nuclear reprocessing 3

Chemical plant: low-radioactivity sludge -> mid-radioactivity sludge + rock


And of course the sludges, being liquids, are subject to being stored in tanks, barreled and unbarreled, and being transported in liquid wagons. So you could produce and store (or launch into space with the rocket?) lots of radioactive waste, but with improved technology reprocess and reuse spent fuel for much better efficiency.

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Andrzejef » Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:01 pm

The Phoenixian wrote:I've had a thought, so here's a proposed alternative to the reactor explosion, that still remains dangerous and has it's own "cool factor".

Instead of outright exploding if it gets too hot, since "no steam" = "no steam or hydrogen explosion" what if the problem is just plain ambient heat.

With everything running normally, the building behaves normally like any other building. As the heat grows however, the building starts to gain adverse effects.

At the first stage of meltdown, it starts burning nearby foliage and flammables. Trees, basic power poles, grass tiles, etc. If it can be expected to burn it will. Which also gives a excellent reason to build away from forests and use paved flooring where possible. The radius of this effect grows as the meltdown progresses.

At the second stage of meltdown, the reactor gains a damaging aura: Nearby mobs including biters, the player and even logistics and construction robots are damaged if they come too near. As with the first effect, the amount and radius of the damage increases as the reactor grows hotter. A noteworthy possibility here is that anything that tries to deconstruct the building at this point, robot or human, will take a certain amount of damage.

Only at the third and final stage do non-wooden buildings start taking damage, including the reactor itself. The fun part here is that the second stage effect of the meltdown at this point prevents construction robots from just fixing things, as the repair robots themselves will die in droves. Likewise it may well be so hot that it cannot be deconstructed without the robots dying, requiring the (well shielded) player to run in and dismantle it themselves in order to avert destruction.

As a visual indicator, these auras can be shown through as an ambient heat haze that progresses to an eerie red glow as it starts to burn flammable objects, to an unhealthy orange glow that burns biters players and robots, and finally build up to a white hot blinding glare as it the reactor finally melts itself- and everything around it, into a puddle of glass and steel.

Now, here's the really fun part: With the exception of the third and final stage, none of this impedes reactor efficiency. It should be fully possible to hold the reactor at a ridiculously high temperature, creating a field of death and destruction, and have it just as efficient, or even more efficient, than it is normally.

In the latter case it's not just a dangerous technology, it's a potentially quite safe technology that actively rewards you for playing dangerously with it. And I think that fits pretty well into Factorio's themes. Not only do you have the sense of "Am I the bad guy?" but it adds another layer to the "easy to learn, hard to master" side of things as the highest efficiencies also have the least margin for error.
This is actualy something I'd accept outright. Add to it huge pollution emission (which is only natural and to be expected with "1st or 2nd stage", as you called it), and it's perfect (my opinion only, but I have good feelings about it) :)
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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by ssilk » Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:23 pm

Hiddencamper wrote:So maybe one way to implement this, is a tech upgrade for reactors for an improved Reactor Protection System (Actual system in a nuclear plant), which instead of having an explosion, it causes the reactor to shut down for some extended period of time. ...
I like that.
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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Andrzejef » Sun Nov 13, 2016 1:12 pm

ssilk wrote:
Hiddencamper wrote:So maybe one way to implement this, is a tech upgrade for reactors for an improved Reactor Protection System (Actual system in a nuclear plant), which instead of having an explosion, it causes the reactor to shut down for some extended period of time. ...
I like that.
I see all the ideas actually revolve around one basic principle - reactors don't go "pop" :)
But yes, it makes sense that tech upgrade causes the reactor not to "violently overload". Still tho, the idea of "meltdown"... They don't exclude one another, do they? Or make a safeguard sub-option in power menu, tht causes the reactor to "preventingly shut down" after exceeding some level. :P
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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by malecord » Sun Nov 13, 2016 3:13 pm

I hope the meltdown explosion is big.

I'd love to clear maps out of biters with a single explosion.

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Andrzejef » Sun Nov 13, 2016 3:35 pm

malecord wrote:I hope the meltdown explosion is big.

I'd love to clear maps out of biters with a single explosion.
As you could see already, most of us is not a fan of this idea. For that purpose, I'd rather like a regular nuke instead :)
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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Decius » Sun Nov 13, 2016 5:49 pm

i understand the simplification and why the reactor produces steam directly, instead of having a primary and secondary plant, but why would power of the reactor be controlled by the circuit network instead of by steam demand? A 1960s era Water moderated reactor adjusts power to maintain a constant coolant temperature, and if there is no steam demand the reactor reduces power all the way down quickly.

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Cellidor » Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:32 pm

When looking into different kinds of nuclear (and even fusion) reactions, I came across some interesting ideas:

Regarding Thorium reactors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYxlpeJEKmw

Regarding Fusion reactors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZsaaturR6E

If nothing else, they certainly bring to mind a lot of ideas as to how power generation options can be dealt with. After all, despite Factorio's factories being very "dirty" and pollution heavy, this -is- still the far future we're talking about, with travel to other planets being possible, so why not go further than simple steam/solar energy? Skies the limit, right?
Sometimes you're just target practice for giant, interstellar worms.

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by FunMaker » Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:10 pm

I am all for combinators needed for maximum efficiency.

easy to learn (no combinators) --> 40% efficiency
hard to master (combinators) --> 90-100% efficiency

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Hovel » Sun Nov 13, 2016 9:05 pm

Karamel wrote:Since this is nuclear power, there needs to be waste management. I'm suggesting something like:

Tech: nuclear power

Furnace: uranium ore -> uranium
Assembler: uranium + iron plate -> fuel rod
Nuclear plant: fuel rod -> spent fuel rod + heat

Tech: nuclear reprocessing 1

Chemical plant: spent fuel rod + water -> high-radioactivity sludge
Chemical plant: high-radioactivity sludge-> mid-radioactivity sludge + uranium

Tech: nuclear reprocessing 2

Chemical plant: mid-radioactivity sludge -> high-radioactivity sludge + low-radioactivity sludge

Tech: nuclear reprocessing 3

Chemical plant: low-radioactivity sludge -> mid-radioactivity sludge + rock


And of course the sludges, being liquids, are subject to being stored in tanks, barreled and unbarreled, and being transported in liquid wagons. So you could produce and store (or launch into space with the rocket?) lots of radioactive waste, but with improved technology reprocess and reuse spent fuel for much better efficiency.

I work as a process engineer at a company that processes all the nuclear waste generated in the Netherlands. Spend fuel rods are one of the few "waste" streams that are being reprocessed.

Low and medium level waste is being processed to immobelised, strengthened and shielded. At our site it means that most of the solid waste is being compacted and encapsulated in concrete drums. Liquids are being mixed with cement in specific recipes to become concrete as well. All this waste is being store in a intermediate storage facility above ground. Low-life and medium level waste will eventually be processed as chemical waste once radiation is below a certain threshold. Medium and long-life waste will be storage in underground facilities for thousands of years; geological repository.

It would be very closer to reality to have to manage radio active waste in storage and having to make sure nothing happens to it (fire, biters, etc).

ps. Dev team, my company (COVRA) is very open to the public and is able to share a lot of information on how radio active waste is being processed and stored. Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with. I will try this week to write-up some simple process flow diagrams that might be of use to you. I'll posted them under the "ideas" topic.

I will also have a look at some nuclear reactor design/illustrations that might be usefull for you.

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by torham » Sun Nov 13, 2016 9:48 pm

Hovel wrote: ps. Dev team, my company (COVRA) is very open to the public and is able to share a lot of information on how radio active waste is being processed and stored. Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with. I will try this week to write-up some simple process flow diagrams that might be of use to you. I'll posted them under the "ideas" topic.

I will also have a look at some nuclear reactor design/illustrations that might be usefull for you.
Factorio community is awesome! :D

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by The Phoenixian » Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:50 pm

Molten salt has been suggested a fair few times in this thread, and I'd like to throw my own support in for it. I'll also mention that hot oil can be used for the same purpose if you want different recipes to consider.

The key reason I support it it is that molten salt, along with hot oil, lends itself very well to acting as a heat transfer fluid, and I think the fluid system lends itself very well to filling the needs of heat based power generation while providing interesting challenges for it. I've spoken of this before using hot oil for a heat transfer fluid when I proposed solar-termal in the solar power balance thread. [1] [2] [3] (Links for those interested in reading up. It's specific to solar-thermal but much of the fluid talk fair bit applies to nuclear-thermal power as well. Everything important there
should be repeated here however.)

A heat transfer fluid lends itself to complex infrastructure, and train based transporation once 1.5 and fluid wagons arrive. You don't even need the cooling tower, just a special "heat exchanger" type of boiler in order to make it work. (A temperature sensor function would also be useful for advanced stuff but it's not necessary.) All the heat exchanger has to do is equalize the temperature of two fluids for so long as they remain inside it, with both sides flowing freely.

Even with just pumping it in the exchange however, you already encounter a new consideration for advanced designers as a co-current heat exchange system only equalizes the temperatures while a counter-current exchange let's them get far more bang for their buck as far as heating the water and steam goes, transferring the vast majority of heat from one fluid to the other and so letting much more work be done.

It's only a small trick, but it's one that will be readily apparent.

It's also worth noting that storage becomes an issue in a way it doesn't with item based heat storage: While just a few chests can store a remarkable large amount of material, fluid storage tanks have a lot more bulk and so require space considerations to a degree that items don't. It's more important for solar-thermal than nuclear-thermal but it does pose a potential problem for players to consider.

Beyond that, there are also potential considerations of pumping capacity that encourage players to design pumping stations to get the fluid to flow faster, and likewise filling the system with various fluids has it's own challenges. Hot water and steam are easy to take care of, but once you start creating fluids like molten salt or hot oil, then you have to ensure that you don't have too much entering the system, as fluids in Factorio require air gaps to flow. And of course, the cooling tower and steam cycle already provides practice for that.

Thinking further, if you want to send the message that nuclear power doesn't necessarily have to be dangerous or that it's only as dangerous as you make it, another possibility is that steam can have the potential to explode in the buildings if it reaches too high a temperature while heat transfer fluids have no such problem. This provides another reason to move forwards, as moving from steam to a heat transfer fluid increases the safe operating temperature, or safe operating margin if you want to play it safe, of nuclear plants.

If steam also can explode in the pipes, that likewise provides another challenge for designers working at the hottest temperatures, as they need to figure out how to pass that actually use that heat without exploding their system. And here again we have a bit of easy learning and hard mastery, as a co-current exchange evens out temperatures while the more efficient counter-current exchange requires that they find ways to cool down the steam in mid current if they want to run their reactors at high temperature. (It's simple enough actually, they just need to let the steam turbines cool down the steam before heating it up again.)

That said, I'm far more on the fence about exploding steam in general as it lacks a good way to introduce itself to the player.

Ideally, every single part of the system can be presented to the player in isolation, for them to tackle at their own time.

Closed fluid loops? That introduction is already handled by the steam turbine and cooling tower.

Exploding steam? Again it's entirely separate from other issues, and if it works in the pipes as well as the reactors, there may be a way for players to encounter it early on, while not being a factor in the most basic setups. (Possibly a pressure release valve that reduces the temperature and volume of the steam when it hits a critical point. That said, I'm not sold on it.)

Heat exchangers and heat transfer fluid? They're their own thing in just two items. The player already knows how to deal with everything else.

Counter-current exchange: Not necessary, just more efficient, and so can be tackled by players at their leisure. And again, I expect the way the game works already will facilitate it very easily.

The fight between counter-currents and exploding steam at high temperature efficiencies? That's the final step after everything else is done, and it's one that, again, players will have some time working out, effectively making it the final boss of power plant design.
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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by InsaneFox » Sun Nov 13, 2016 11:53 pm

I really don't think that the exploding reactor is a good idea from a gameplay perspective, Considering the power of reloading, the risk of the explosion would do nothing but push the player to reload to a save before it exploded (unless of course the player tried to make it explode as an offensive effort). It's sorta like the risk you run when you introduce trains that may run you over: Yeah, carelessness may get you killed, but you're just gonna reload to before it happened. And when you discover that your entire power infrastructure has exploded, or even simply needs to have all its parts replaced, Outside of players looking to beat the game in some hardcore ironman mode run, almost everyone is simply going to reload. And this is further compounded by the fact that at the point where the player will have Nuclear Power, rebuilding the nuclear powerplant while the base is in low power mode might not be an option, assuming that the facilities and materials necessary for rebuilding the powerplant weren't destroyed in the explosion.

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Extended » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:18 am

Is your nuclear reactor going to explode? Just pick it up, like you can do with any item.

Instead, I think the best would be to make an auto emergency shutdown. It would already be a huge penalty, since it involves the whole factory to work slowly.

And I think that nuclear waste would be awesome. It could even be used as an intermediate product for other technologies. Also, uranium is definitely a must to make a nuclear plant working. But it should be an unlimited resource and we should be able to be independent of coal, because at the end we want a fully automatized unlimited source of energy, just like solar panels.

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by Jeffman12 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:51 am

Even old reactors don't explode as a simple failure. A confluence of catastrophic events must occur before a reactor will melt down. It's a common talking point used by opponents of nuclear power that "It could turn into a nuclear bomb" This is simply untrue. Nuclear reactors are mechanically incapable of such a thing.

For the purpose of this post, let's assume we're talking about Light Water Reactors.

Chernobyl's meltdown was the result of multiple operator failures amounting to a perfect storm of incompetence, as if the key personnel were actually trying to enact a self-destruct sequence.
Fukushima's destruction was the result of a tsunami. Any explosions were secondary to the earthquake that already wrecked the plant and released contaminated water.
In both cases, the vast majority of the devastation was caused by radioactive fallout.
I recommend implementing the potential for a reactor to damage itself when heat is not properly channelled away from it. When damaged, a reactor begins to produce fallout.
I figure fallout could be handled in two ways:

1: A radiation system is added. Depending on factors already implemented in Factorio, the spread of fallout and irradiation could result from damage to the reactor. This could contaminate all nearby machines and ores, requiring a lengthy and arduous cleanup process and special gear for modular/power armors.
2: Simply make 'radiation' a giant contribution to pollution factor, thus immediately enraging several nests outside the normal "safe area".

In either case, salvaging what you can and starting over somewhere else should become a serious consideration on the player's part. After all of that, the reactor core(s) after accumulating a sufficient amount of damage should just turn into a heap of irradiated slag, stuck in place, never to be picked up again. Maybe breaking them down could be possible, but you're not gonna get much out of it.

As for hydrogen storage/use in nuclear reactors, this is a fairly 'advanced' technology having come out in the last 20 years as a possibly useful byproduct, and in a relatively new reactor design as fissile material.
If you want something to cause a big boom aside from giving all steam engines the potential for great destruction, add hydrogen processing as an option, but you'll probably want to implement other uses for hydrogen at that point.

Now, conventionally, nuclear power is fairly clean, ideally it'd be the thing we used in the interim to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels and onto renewable sources. The key difference in pollution being, the pollutants it gives off, when functioning appropriately, are tangible solids and relatively condensed compared to the waste of hydrocarbons. The primary point of contention with reactors is "what do we do with the waste?" I think an important aspect for gameplay is finding out just what to do with that waste. Making it simply go away is not something easily done. If dropped on the ground, it should do one of the above mentioned things. If stored properly, your containment is finite and susceptible to attack, necessitating defense of what is essentially a giant wastebin.
But worry not, another (relatively) recent development that could find its way into our tech trees could be the Integral Fast Reactor(aka Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor) TBH, I haven't studied much of this beyond what makes me excited about it. Basically, these produce less waste than LWRs, and can actually recycle LWR waste. The waste is processed in a containment unit (chopping up the spent fuel and reconditioning it for use in the IFR).
The IFR is then capable of using its fuel for longer, and producing significantly less waste itself. Typical waste from the IFR can have very long or very short half-lives, meaning they give off very little radiation over a long period of time, or a lot all at once, respectively.

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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by RobertTerwilliger » Mon Nov 14, 2016 8:22 am

Wow, that's some amazing graphics ; ) That was good dose of reading: I'm starting to "gimme gimme", 'cause it all sounds really really cool. Especially interesting sounds
Imagine that you could store the heat in some kind of item. Maybe some kind of special metal with huge heat capacity.
Yeah, it's not realistic NOW, but Factorio is futuristic game, right? So how about packing that heat in huge metal radiators, enclosed in Dewar crates? (currently Dewar flasks are used to store mainly cryogenic liquids, like liquid Nitrogen, but once again, future!)) I put +1 to the concept you suggest, the only that confuses me is the fact we'll probably need new resource to make it somehow realistic or use some "imaginary" futuristic super-polymer made from, say oil and copper, etc.)
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Re: Friday Facts #164 - Nuclear power

Post by ratchetfreak » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:31 am

I see everyone being alarmist about the circuit network

I don't see that

The simple on/off shouldn't even need a wire to the heat gen: if output pressure > x then turn off. The slow startup/shutdown cycle will add the needed hysteresis to avoid the flickering.

Then you can expand it with more complicated math externally to the reactor based on the power storage, time of day, fuel reserves,...

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