|This article, Plasma Fusion Drive, was written by Ajax 013. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
The Plasma Fusion Drive is a piece of UNSC equipment.
The Plasma Fusion Drive is a next-generation engine, being used on both UNSC and USR craft as it is a joint venture between the two. It uses both the older Covenant technique of Deuterium and Tritium fusion and older UNSC Technology of Deuterium fusion. The Covenant technology fused the relatively abundant gas and the rarer material to create mediocre levels of energy, but this was superheated and fed through magnetic fields to create plasma, of which produced an over abundance of thermal energy. The UNSC, on the other hand, used Deuterium fusion to create high levels of energy, though nothing on par with the Covenant reactors. The ship carries a UAE Systems EA-23 Engine, an engine that features two smaller Deuterium fusion reactors around a single larger 'Dry' fusion Reactor, capable of boosting power out by 480%. An upgraded cooling system is fitted as standard, featuring a laser-induced optical slurry of ions chilled to near-absolute zero that removed the reliance on expendable chemical coolant agents. In essence, the new system provided increased waste heat removal as power output increased. This self-regulating and self-cooling system was critical in combat since it virtually eliminated a commander's concerns about overheating and slagging a ship's engines. The two supercharging reactions use conventional Deuterium-on-Deuterium reactions to create high levels of Energy. These are cryogenically stored in compressed forms when not in use, as the need to use these engines is rare. The primary engine uses Lithium-hydride Fusion Plant, using the crystalline powder form of LiH. The gravity of the fuel is 0.82 metric tons per cubic meter, making it extremely efficient, meaning it is superior of the need to contain deuterium cryogenically or as plasma. The fusion plant accepts the LiH in the powdered form, which is very fine, allowing it to be transported and pumped like a liquid, though it must be sealed within double lined containers to prevent contact with water, as even the slightest amount of moisture can cause it to dissociate and react violently.
What powers the reactor is that very dissociation reaction, which liberates extremely large amounts of energy from the fuel with no waste product. The Lithium Hydride is split and forms into Tritium, which, with the aid of free Neutrons, is combined to form Deuterium, which is then split again, combining once more. This cycle releases enormous amounts of energy and leaves no waste product behind. The activation energy for this is high, but is secured by the two Deuterium reactors. However, in order to contain this, magnetic containment fields are needed, but the densities and confinement times needed are higher than conventional fusion reactors. The core temperature is usually around 600 million degrees Kelvin, and densities are maintained at around 5x1014 nuclei per cubic centimetre. With typical conversion efficiencies this yields around 130 megawatts per litre which is delivered as electrical energy, mostly generated by magneto hydrodynamics couplings. Fuel consumption is around about one sixth of a milligram per second per litre. At that rate, the 600 metric tons of fuel will supply the plant for a year while running at maximum power. The entire reactor is covered in lead lined titanium, hiding its radiation emissions.
Rocket engines on the ships are powered directly by the fusion drive, simply by a reaction mass which is placed in contact with plasma from the main reactor, which heats it. The heated gas is then expelled, moving it forward. The reaction mass is industrially created carbon-diamond which sublimates (turns from a solid to a gas without becoming a liquid) easily in the high reaction heat and creates gaseous thrust without requiring combustion. Carbon Diamond is preferred to water and other reaction masses as it is easy to manufacture and has a high density. One major problem with water is the possibility that it can spring a leak and react with the stored LiH, blowing the ship sky high. It also leaves no radio emissions wake as it cools. Thrust is controlled by changing the flow rate of carbon through the engine. High flow rates results in little heating and a high thrust, low efficiency burn. If the carbon mass comes to equilibrium with the plasma it creates a low thrust high-efficiency burn because of the lower flow rates. When running at top speed the engines often support power to weight ratios double that of the warship.