The numbers on fluids

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Mauslag PIngman
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The numbers on fluids

Post by Mauslag PIngman »

I've got a big nuclear plant and it vents a lot of steam to the atmosphere so I decided I'd try to put it in storage tanks. I put up about 300 25K storage tanks and they were "full" in about 5 hours. I say "full" because they never fill up 25k out of 25K, but tend to reach 24K each no matter how many you have although sometimes they only get to 20k. The numbers on fluids in tanks and pipes are kind of bizarre.

I'm hoping that in a power shortage all the stored steam will be used to generate power for hours or maybe weeks as I plan to put up thousands more.

I also tried to improve the water supply to heat exchangers by putting in a water storage tank near the exchangers and then pumping the water into the water lines but in Factorio the pumps act strangely. They only improved the water supply. It doesn't seem to matter how many pumps I put on the job. There is never enough water for some of the heat exchangers while other sets of heat exchangers get 97% from just 2 water pumps.

All this vented steam makes me think of real life like why don't we have cities under domes heated by surplus steam from nuclear plants. Why don't we have real cities with artificial weather? I think a lot of the steam really just gets vented into the atmosphere and other heat is lost to cooling water.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by SoShootMe »

Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Oct 06, 2021 1:49 pm
I've got a big nuclear plant and it vents a lot of steam to the atmosphere so I decided I'd try to put it in storage tanks. I put up about 300 25K storage tanks and they were "full" in about 5 hours. I say "full" because they never fill up 25k out of 25K, but tend to reach 24K each no matter how many you have although sometimes they only get to 20k. The numbers on fluids in tanks and pipes are kind of bizarre.
The steam you see from turbines is that which is being used - it's not being vented. If you're not using (or storing) all that can be produced, first the pipes will fill, and then the heat exchangers, heat pipes and reactors will heat up. If/when reactors reach 1000C, they'll stop getting hotter and some energy stored in the nuclear fuel cells will be wasted, but they are cheap so this is not usually a practical issue.

You generally need pumps to get storage tanks completely filled.
Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Oct 06, 2021 1:49 pm
I'm hoping that in a power shortage all the stored steam will be used to generate power for hours or maybe weeks as I plan to put up thousands more.
There isn't much point having a vast amount of energy stored as steam. A moderate amount, with additional turbines, can be useful to provide extra peak power for lasers. Using the circuit network, you can measure the amount of steam in a relatively small number of tanks and use this to "regulate" fuel cells to your reactor to avoid the waste I mentioned above.
Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Oct 06, 2021 1:49 pm
I also tried to improve the water supply to heat exchangers by putting in a water storage tank near the exchangers and then pumping the water into the water lines but in Factorio the pumps act strangely.
Welcome to the joys of Factorio's fluid handling... With nuclear power especially, you need to design things carefully to avoid exceeding the flow limits for pipes, due to the high rates of water/steam involved. See https://wiki.factorio.com/Fluid_system.
Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Oct 06, 2021 1:49 pm
All this vented steam makes me think of real life like why don't we have cities under domes heated by surplus steam from nuclear plants. Why don't we have real cities with artificial weather? I think a lot of the steam really just gets vented into the atmosphere and other heat is lost to cooling water.
I think it's fairly safe to say that the steam generated in real-world power stations will have as much energy extracted from it as can be used for efficient power generation. What is left over is probably a relatively small proportion (because there is obvious incentive to minimise it). I'm not sure if district heating from power stations is a way to reduce the waste (or just to make heat more efficiently than lots of tiny boilers), but it's probably not often useful for nuclear power as that tends to be built quite far away from large populations, making it inefficient due to transmission loss.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by astroshak »

Typically, when steam is being used as the energy transfer medium, the entire process is done near some kind of heat sink, typically water (a lake, river, or the ocean). The feed water is boiled to a high pressure (allows the steam to be hotter, meaning it carries more energy) and then pulled across a turbine into a less-than-atmospheric pressure condensation chamber. The heat sink is used to condense the steam, which permits it to be pumped back to the heat source with only minor loss.

In Factorio, the steam is out across the turbine and vented to atmosphere, meaning that it if all lost. But hey, water is infinite and the purity is not considered at all - you can pull from very green water and the boiler or heat exchanger will still function perfectly.

As far as storing steam in tanks at a nuclear setup, my advice would be predicated on the idea that each line of heat exchangers only feeds its own line (without cross connecting) of turbines and tanks. Put the tanks between the heat exchanger line and the turbine line, using pumps to push all the steam through (pump into the tank, pump between each serial tank, and a pump after going to the turbines. The only real trick is guesstimating the amount of steam that you need, minimum, in the tanks when you insert the next fuel cell to avoid losing power when the reactors and heat exchangers heat back up.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by Mauslag PIngman »

There is something strange going on with pumps. If you have a pipe and three pumps feeding three fluid cars, I think only one pump at a time will turn on. Also if you have multiple pumps feeding one fluid car it will once again only work one pump at a time. I couldn't speed up the filling of my fluid cars by using multiple pumps. Maybe if I had a separate storage tank for each pump, which would be quite an ordeal to set up.

What do you guys do when you want to fill your fluid cars faster?

By the way, if you want to see my base and my working nuclear plant, I'm playing online. I think the game is called Pingman's Trains. The functioning nuclear plant is called The Waykool Nuclear Facility.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by Silari »

Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Oct 06, 2021 6:03 pm
There is something strange going on with pumps. If you have a pipe and three pumps feeding three fluid cars, I think only one pump at a time will turn on. Also if you have multiple pumps feeding one fluid car it will once again only work one pump at a time. I couldn't speed up the filling of my fluid cars by using multiple pumps. Maybe if I had a separate storage tank for each pump, which would be quite an ordeal to set up.

What do you guys do when you want to fill your fluid cars faster?
Always hook the pump directly to a fluid tank for best throughput, NEVER to a pipe. A Tank->Pump->Wagon setup can fill the thing in something like 7 seconds. Even a single pipe ruins the throughput due to the relatively much smaller fluid box.

You can hook up multiple pumps but they each need their own tank, or again you're going to hit the pipe limit and be much worse off than just a single tank->pump->wagon setup.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by Tertius »

If there is a loop somewhere in the pipe system, so it's possible for steam (or fluid) to flow in a circle, strange things begin to happen, especially if a pump is within that circle. As far as I remember, a pumped fluid rather flows in circles instead of filling up a nearby tank. Which is according to the fluid mechanics: fluids flow to the lowest level, which is usually at the entry of any pump.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by torne »

Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Oct 06, 2021 6:03 pm
There is something strange going on with pumps. If you have a pipe and three pumps feeding three fluid cars, I think only one pump at a time will turn on. Also if you have multiple pumps feeding one fluid car it will once again only work one pump at a time. I couldn't speed up the filling of my fluid cars by using multiple pumps. Maybe if I had a separate storage tank for each pump, which would be quite an ordeal to set up.
Pumps can move 200 units of fluid in a single tick. Each pipe segment only holds 100 units of fluid. So, if you have multiple pumps being fed by a single line of pipe then whichever pump is first in line will always completely empty the pipe it's connected to every single tick, and no liquid will be able to flow "past" it until the output is full and the pump stops working.

Multiple pumps can only be faster than a single pump if they're pulling from a larger liquid storage, i.e. connected to storage tanks. It's always fastest to have the pump directly connected to the storage tank as others have said, but just having three storage tanks connected by three separate pipelines to three pumps will still be faster than having all the pumps fed by a single pipe.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by mrvn »

Silari wrote:
Wed Oct 06, 2021 6:32 pm
Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Oct 06, 2021 6:03 pm
There is something strange going on with pumps. If you have a pipe and three pumps feeding three fluid cars, I think only one pump at a time will turn on. Also if you have multiple pumps feeding one fluid car it will once again only work one pump at a time. I couldn't speed up the filling of my fluid cars by using multiple pumps. Maybe if I had a separate storage tank for each pump, which would be quite an ordeal to set up.

What do you guys do when you want to fill your fluid cars faster?
Always hook the pump directly to a fluid tank for best throughput, NEVER to a pipe. A Tank->Pump->Wagon setup can fill the thing in something like 7 seconds. Even a single pipe ruins the throughput due to the relatively much smaller fluid box.

You can hook up multiple pumps but they each need their own tank, or again you're going to hit the pipe limit and be much worse off than just a single tank->pump->wagon setup.
And a fluid wagon only has 3 points where a pump can connect. You can put 3 pumps with 3 tanks around a fluid wagon so all 3 connect. It's not 3 times faster though, only a bit above double speed iirc.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by mrvn »

Mauslag PIngman wrote:
Wed Oct 06, 2021 1:49 pm
I've got a big nuclear plant and it vents a lot of steam to the atmosphere so I decided I'd try to put it in storage tanks. I put up about 300 25K storage tanks and they were "full" in about 5 hours. I say "full" because they never fill up 25k out of 25K, but tend to reach 24K each no matter how many you have although sometimes they only get to 20k. The numbers on fluids in tanks and pipes are kind of bizarre.

I'm hoping that in a power shortage all the stored steam will be used to generate power for hours or maybe weeks as I plan to put up thousands more.

I also tried to improve the water supply to heat exchangers by putting in a water storage tank near the exchangers and then pumping the water into the water lines but in Factorio the pumps act strangely. They only improved the water supply. It doesn't seem to matter how many pumps I put on the job. There is never enough water for some of the heat exchangers while other sets of heat exchangers get 97% from just 2 water pumps.

All this vented steam makes me think of real life like why don't we have cities under domes heated by surplus steam from nuclear plants. Why don't we have real cities with artificial weather? I think a lot of the steam really just gets vented into the atmosphere and other heat is lost to cooling water.
A offshore pump supplies 1200 fluid/s maximum and a pump moves 1200 fluid/s maximum too. So two pumps on one offshore pump will not go faster.

Pipes also have a flow limit depending on the length and the level at both ends. For the heat exchangers the best layout is to have a long row of heat exchangers with an offshore pump at both ends. That takes care of the water and you only have to optimize the steam pipes.

Also note that it is perfectly fine for a heat exchanger to only have 1 water if it produces the full amount of steam. That just means all the water that flows in each tick gets converted to steam with one water left over. You do not need the heat exchanger full of water, you just need to have enough water flowing in. Flow rate != level.


As for storing steam: Having 1-4 tanks per reactor is perfectly fine and you can regulate the fuel insertion to match the rate of power you actually consume. Any more is just wasted unless you have huge amounts of laser turrets and aliens and extra steam turbines.

Unless... You can use nuclear power with solar panels so the reactor only needs to provide power at night. And since reactors, heat pipes and heat exchangers are expensive you can tripple the number of steam turbines if you add enough steam tanks. During the day when you run on solar power you store steam and at night you use the stored steam to generate power. Since solar provides power for 2/3 of a day the tripple steam turbines use no more steam than you generate each day.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by disentius »

@Mrvn: pump maximum is 12000i/s. (200 per tick) it will reach this with tank-pump-tank and tank-pump fluid wagon configs

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by mrvn »

disentius wrote:
Thu Oct 07, 2021 11:25 am
@Mrvn: pump maximum is 12000i/s. (200 per tick) it will reach this with tank-pump-tank and tank-pump fluid wagon configs
Probably right. Modded values here. Check the tooltips for each entity to see what your game has as speeds. But the argument stands, you can't pump more water than the offshore pump provides.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by Bauer »

All tileable designs need to maintain this ratio:

1 reactor* : 16 heat exchanger : 28 turbines

That requires about 1650 water/s, which is why you see 2 offshore pumps in those designs. You can feed from both ends*** or from one end of the heat exchanger row if you don't use more than the minimum** of 3 pipes (for both pumps). On the output side of the exchangers, you need at least 1 pump (vanilla with 12000/s). Alternatively, you can build pump-tank-pump-turbines (row of 28) or (for better symmetry) pump-tank-pump-tank-pump-turbines.

With a tank in between, you can use the steam level to control the plant and I suggest to build 32 turbines to allow for power peaks.

* max neighbor bonus
** theoretically, you could build something with only one pipe, but it will not fit into a tileable design and it will look odd.
*** find a big lake first or use a waterfill mod

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by mrvn »

Bauer wrote:
Fri Oct 08, 2021 8:59 am
All tileable designs need to maintain this ratio:

1 reactor* : 16 heat exchanger : 28 turbines

That requires about 1650 water/s, which is why you see 2 offshore pumps in those designs. You can feed from both ends*** or from one end of the heat exchanger row if you don't use more than the minimum** of 3 pipes (for both pumps). On the output side of the exchangers, you need at least 1 pump (vanilla with 12000/s). Alternatively, you can build pump-tank-pump-turbines (row of 28) or (for better symmetry) pump-tank-pump-tank-pump-turbines.

With a tank in between, you can use the steam level to control the plant and I suggest to build 32 turbines to allow for power peaks.

* max neighbor bonus
** theoretically, you could build something with only one pipe, but it will not fit into a tileable design and it will look odd.
*** find a big lake first or use a waterfill mod
I believe pump-underground pipe-pump works too. But it might need an extra pump before the last heat exchanger to add a little more flow. Gives you space to walk through and for roboports during construction.

Personally I'm with you on preparing for peaks. As such I don't really plan for the maximum power output and maximum flow of steam out of the heat exchangers. If it only gets 98% that's just fine. If you are playing with aliens then the plant should be operating anywhere from 50% to 75% load. Leaving at least 25% spare power for peaks (more with extra turbines). After that it's time to add more reactors. With the fuel controls discussed here there really is no cost to more reactors besides the material to build them. The overhead of more pumps and inserters is a negible.

With waterfill and a tileable design it really is no work to extend the reactor. I have a blueprint that adds 2x2 reactors and also has landfill/waterfill for the next 2x2 reactors for the future. That way by the time the reactor needs to be extended again the landfill/waterfill is already all placed and it really is just one click to place the blueprint and the reactor grows. I have roboports in place for future expansion for all the free space I left for that. After that I would have to start a completely new
reactor because other stuff is in the way.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by Redpossum »

I tried implementing the fluid-handling advice in this thread last night, in a new game with Railworld settings, and I was just knocked out.

I set up my new oil outpost with four tanks right next to the rails, so each fluid car was serviced by two pumps directly connected to a tank, and the filling was almost instant. I set up the unloading the same way at my refinery and again, the fluid cars unloaded in seconds. It was just astonishing!

Much gratitude to you all.

I woke up this morning thinking about advanced oil refining...

I found this video by Mini Betrayal -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oC_q9JpkNRk
- particularly helpful, especially the part starting around 27:45 where he shows how set up a circuit for cracking Heavy into Light, and Light into Petroleum.
But given what I have learned in this thread about fluid transfer speeds, I'm looking again at his layout and wondering if it can be improved.

Do any of you have input on this question that you'd like to share with me?

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by astroshak »

I want to say that Pump->Pipe-to-Ground (down)->Pipe-to-Ground (up)->Pump is equivalent to Pump->2 Pipes->Pump. This limits the flow to 3000/sec.

There is a throughput faq (whenever I want to see it I just pop into the factorio discord) that is very handy when it comes to determining just how many pumps you need to maintain your desired throughput. You can have 8 matching pairs of Pipe-to-Ground between Pumps if you want to maintain the 1200 water/sec that an Offshore Pump can put out, for example.

As far as how to set up an oil refinery, I look at the amount I have available from Pumpjacks, and use that to decide how many Refineries I want to set up. If my available oil is stupid low (100/sec, or lower) it does not make sense to use a lot of Refineries, does it? Refineries use 20 Crude Oil/sec, and 10 Water/sec (Advanced Oil Processing only on the Water). You need to do the math (or just determine it experimentally) to see how many Refineries you can put together without using a Pump to help the oil along. Or the Heavy Oil/Light Oil/Petroleum Gas, for that matter.

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Re: The numbers on fluids

Post by mrvn »

Redpossum wrote:
Sat Oct 09, 2021 3:38 pm
I tried implementing the fluid-handling advice in this thread last night, in a new game with Railworld settings, and I was just knocked out.

I set up my new oil outpost with four tanks right next to the rails, so each fluid car was serviced by two pumps directly connected to a tank, and the filling was almost instant. I set up the unloading the same way at my refinery and again, the fluid cars unloaded in seconds. It was just astonishing!

Much gratitude to you all.

I woke up this morning thinking about advanced oil refining...

I found this video by Mini Betrayal -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oC_q9JpkNRk
- particularly helpful, especially the part starting around 27:45 where he shows how set up a circuit for cracking Heavy into Light, and Light into Petroleum.
But given what I have learned in this thread about fluid transfer speeds, I'm looking again at his layout and wondering if it can be improved.

Do any of you have input on this question that you'd like to share with me?
He is using pumps as circuit controlled valves, not to speed up fluid transfer. Fluid consumption is maximum 20/s per chemical plant. So 50 chemical plants in a row would be 1000 fluid/s. You might run into problems with the pipe throughput there and need some extra pumps. But that is a huge oil refinery. Worry about that when you need it.

Note: You want your train loading/unloading fast so 1) the train is available for the next job sooner and 2) to make up for the time the train needs to travel or 3) for the next train to arrive at the station. You never want to consume stuff as fast as you can unload it from a train. I wouldn't even recommend half the speed. You want few trains as much fun as it is seeing them zip around. I'm designing my factory blocks to process a train in ~10 minutes and rather build 2 blocks if I need more throughput than risk later having the factory run dry because a train is delayed.

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