How would nuclear batteries and fuel cells work?

Discussion in 'General Fallout Discussion' started by NMLevesque, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. NMLevesque

    NMLevesque Commie Ghost

    618
    Jul 2, 2016
    So, setting aside that later games take the 'whatever we want it to do and not be able to do, and will change our mind about repeatedly' approach, I'm curious as to what these are even supposed to be slash could/should be. Which is to say the miniature reactors are a nope for me. I can sort of understand how a small amount of fissile material could produce a steady electrical current with, I want to say beta radiation, but how fusion comes into play sort of confuses me. As is the part where they're reliant on petroleum to fuel vertibirds, even though they could just endlessly produce hydrogen fuel cells with it.
     
  2. ThatZenoGuy

    ThatZenoGuy Residential Zealous Evolved Nano Organism

    Nov 8, 2016
    I don't think Fallout was ever all that in depth with its tech.

    You have some technobabble words here and there, some small stuff, but not much.

    As far as I am concerned, Microfusion packs are basically superbatteries, that's how they work with guns and cars.

    Same thing with small energy cells, but those are just less in terms of storage.

    The only 'reactors' I know of, are the big nuclear ones, and the ones for the recharger rifle/pistol series.

    As I understand it, Vertibirds are petrol powered because its cheaper, and they had a whole oil rig.
     
  3. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    Well, it's a hundred years later and they're on an oil well.

    You have a pile of crap and a machine that runs on crap, you use the crap even if you have some nukes too.

    :)
     
  4. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Aug 16, 2010
    I think microfusion cells are supposed to be some sort of self-contained (cold) fusion generator. There's no real background information on them, but I think they were only developed shortly before the War, before this technology could save the planet, and they were mostly for military use.
    Small energy cells are just high-tech batteries.
    I guess the Highwayman has a bunch of rechargable internal energy cells, and the player can use small energy cells and microfusion cells to recharge them similar to how a pre-war car owner would have used a normal power outlet.

    /edit: No, I don't know how a self-contained fusion generator could work. Let's see what the energy density of an MFC would be. The laser rifle can fire 12 shots from what I assume is a single MFC unit. Let's say that the laser rifle dispenses 5 kJ per shot, slightly more than a 7.62 mm NATO round. Consider an electrical-to-optical efficiency of 50%, so the total energy that the MFC contains is 120 kJ. The MFC seems to be the same size as a lantern battery, so its volume is about 490 mm³. So from this I think the energy density of one MFC is ~245 J/mm³ or 245 MJ/l, which is a more common unit for energy density. This is about seven times as much as a Zinc-air battery, although I'm not sure if I didn't do some hilarious mistake above.
    Given that cold fusion is commonly thought to be less energetic than "hot" fusion or fission, I guess that would make sense. I'll check all the numbers later.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2017
  5. ThatZenoGuy

    ThatZenoGuy Residential Zealous Evolved Nano Organism

    Nov 8, 2016
    Wait, don't energy weapons explode on critical misses sometimes?

    So...Those cells can go nuclear? Like the microfusion bundles in NV?
     
  6. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Aug 16, 2010
    In a way, yes. Energy cells, just like regular modern batteries, can just short out and blow up that way, and I guess MFCs can actually go critical even though it doesn't make sense for nuclear fusion to do that. Oh well, it's SCIENCE!
     
  7. ThatZenoGuy

    ThatZenoGuy Residential Zealous Evolved Nano Organism

    Nov 8, 2016
    I think "SCIENCE!" describes 90% of fallout tech.

    Its basically very very basic concepts and buzzwords to make for a game with good and reasonable items.

    I mean, would a plasma rifle make people turn into red slime? No, it'd COOK them!
     
  8. peadar87

    peadar87 Still Mildly Glowing

    244
    Jun 4, 2015
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_gamma_emission is one possibility. Basically, radioactive elements have stored energy that is released gradually as radioactivity as the nuclei decay to a more stable state. Some elements can theoretically be induced to release all this decay energy in a burst, which has an energy density far smaller than conventional nuclear reactions, but far greater than chemical reactions.

    Of course, this doesn't explain why they were called Microfusion Cells. In my headcanon, "Microfusion" is just a brand name for a company that makes, among other things, high-density energy storage devices. Similarly to how the General Atomics Predator Drone is in no way atomic itself.
     
  9. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Aug 16, 2010
    Yeah, these were also proposed to make a gamma ray laser, but the problem is, how to actually get the isomer to all emit their gamma quants at the same time?
    There is still ongoing research for "cold" fusion, or LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Fusion) as they call it these days. It's all pretty fringy and there are no reliable measurements so far. Too many scammers in there.
    The common theme seems to use the lattice of a metal like palladium that can store a lot of hydrogen in interlattice spaces. The idea is that these interlattice atoms are then close enough to each other that they can undergo nuclear fusion (possibly helped by quantum mechanical uncertainties) at relatively low rates when a small amount of energy is applied. I guess this kind of stuff actually works in SCIENCE!, so that's what I think is going on in MFCs, it's kinda consistent with the in-game description, too.
     
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