Old Reactor Mechanics and Components

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This page goes into detail the Reactor Mechanics and Components before the 1.106 update.

Reactor Terms

Here are some of the terms often used when describing a reactor and its design.

Heat - The reactor itself and its components can all store heat. If heat levels gets too high, then components will melt, and there will be a risk of a reactor meltdown (see "Violent explosion").
Cooling - Cooling is provided by internal components like a Cooling Cell and the outside environment like water. Cooling is needed to counteract the effects of heat, preventing a meltdown.
Reactor Tick - A reactor 'ticks' once every second. This is when heat, EU generation, and cooling is calculated. (Not to be confused with EU ticks which is a completely different measurement)
Uranium Pulse - Pulses occur every reactor tick, each pulse produces heat and EU. Uranium Cells normally pulse once per tick, but will produce one 'bonus' pulse per neighboring cell (This does not cause the cell to deplete faster, essentially generating bonus energy, but also extra heat).
Breeder Reactor - A type of reactor design that re-enriches Depleted Isotope Cells into full Uranium Cells, but produces little power.
Reactor Design - The pattern in which components are placed within a reactor. A good design can give you nice, safe energy, and a bad design can spontaneously crater-ize your home and its contents (see "Violent explosion").
Full Cycle - The time it takes for a full Uranium Cell to be used up. 10,000 reactor ticks, or 2 hours 47 mins.
Cooldown Period - The time required for an inactive reactor to cool all the excess heat it has collected.
Reactor Hull - This is where heat goes when it's not stored in a component. The maximum heat storage is 10,000, but it can be increased with Reactor Chambers and Integrated Reactor Plating.
Reactor Class - All reactor designs can be a class like "Mark-I-O ED" or "Mark-III EB" which gives an indication of how well a design will perform.
Reactor Efficiency - The average number of pulses per Uranium Cell. (efficiency = pulses / cells)
The more Uranium Cells that are placed next to each other, the higher the efficiency, but also the higher the risk.
Violent explosion - Also known as "reactor meltdown" or "BOOM". What happens if a reactor overheats over it's limit due to overheating. Leaves behind a crater worth being given a name. Note that serious nuclear engineers always place signs next to such craters to remember how it was created. Like "First reactor setup that was almost working as intended" or "Probably should add explosion resistant walls to the next setup".

Reactor Components

A list of the various components that can be used within a reactor.

Main components

Grid Reactor Chamber.png Reactor Chamber
Placed adjacent to the reactor block, each additional chamber provides 6 additional cell slots, +1000 hull strength, and 2 cooling per reactor tick. Note that as a reactor only uses water blocks for cooling in the 3x3x3 grid around the central reactor, adding a Reactor Chamber will only add a total of +1 cooling to a water cooled reactor, as it occupies one of the possible water cooling spots.
Cables can be connected to a Reactor Chamber to transmit the power generated by the reactor setup. A Redstone signal applied directly to a Reactor Chamber (such as a redstone wire passing over/into the chamber, or a pulled lever supported by the chamber) will conduct through the chamber to the reactor itself, shutting it down.

Uranium components

Grid Uranium Cell.png Uranium Cell
The main fuel for the reactor. Every reactor tick, each cell produces a single generating pulse on its own and an additional generating pulse for each adjacent Uranium Cell, causing a "chain reaction" the more Uranium Cells are placed right next to each other and therefore increasing the efficiency of each single cell. Each such pulse produces a specific amount of heat (depending on the surrounding components) and 200 EU (10EU/t) as of 1.3.2 - Uranium Cells are reduced to 5EU/t. A cell lasts 10,000 reactor ticks (2 hours 47 minutes), and generates 2,000,000 EU total multiplied by the amount of other cells constantly around it, thus up to 10,000,000 EU can be generated from a single cell constantly surrounded by 4 others. When depleted, Uranium Cells may become Near-Depleted Uranium Cells or be lost.
Grid Dual Uranium Cell.png Dual Uranium Cell
As it says on the tin. 1.3.2 brings with it new, staged-upgrades for Nuclear Power. Along with it comes Dual and Quad Uranium Cells. These act as if they're 2 or 4 cells in a Grid pattern. 1 Dual cell acts as 2x Uranium Cells are side-by-side. The output from a single slot used is 20EU/t because of 5EU/t per cell, as well as the +5EU/t per cell adjacent to another.
Grid Quad Uranium Cell.png Quad Uranium Cell
4 Uranium Cells forged together to only take one space in the reactor slot; Output for these are 60EU/t. These new Uranium components allow for much more compact Nuclear Reactor designs - However you still have to manage that heat produced.


Grid Near-Depleted Uranium Cell.png Near-Depleted Uranium Cell
The 'empty' state of a Uranium Cell; these can be crafted manually, or have a chance of appearing when a Uranium Cell is depleted within a reactor. They produce 1 heat each reactor tick, but do not generate any EU.
Grid Depleted Isotope Cell.png Depleted Isotope Cell
A depleted Uranium Cell mixed with coal dust. When placed next to a Uranium Cell inside a reactor it recharges into a full cell after some time. The time it takes to recharge a depleted cell depends on the amount of surrounding Uranium Cells and the heat the reactor is operating at. The higher the reactor's temperature is, the faster the cells will replenish. Isotope cells produce 1 heat but do not generate any EU, the will however cause adjacent Uranium Cells to pulse an additional time. This additional pulse is used up to re-enrich the Depleted Isotope Cell and will therefore not generate any EU, but it will cause the pulsing Uranium Cell to generate additional heat as usual.
Grid Re-Enriched Uranium Cell.png Re-Enriched Uranium Cell
The fully charged state of an isotope cell, it will continue to produce only 1 heat and no EU but it will no longer react with adjacent Uranium Cells. Combined with another coal dust, it will become a brand new Uranium Cell.


Before starting a complete breakdown on how each cooling component works, here is an explanation of terms:

maxHeat - The maximum heat that can be stored before the component will melt.
selfCooling rate - How much heat a component can dissipate per tick.
reactorTransfer rate - How much heat the vent can receive from the reactor hull per tick.

Cooling components

Grid Cooling Cell.png Cooling Cell
Each cooling cell may absorb 10,000 heat before melting and will cool down itself by 1 point of heat each reactor tick. Unless overheated Cooling Cells are not used up, which makes them the main cooling component inside the reactor.
Grid Integrated Reactor Plating.png Integrated Reactor Plating
Plating will distribute heat from an adjacent Uranium Cells into surrounding cooling components, which allows to increase the amount of cooling that can be applied directly to an Uranium Cell. Heat distributed in this way can only travel a distance of one slot, possible further platings will only store the heat but not distribute it. Plating also increases the reactor's hull strength by 100 points and can store up to 10,000 heat itself before it melts, if it is unable to direct it into any other cooling component. Integrated Reactor Platings will cool down itself by 0.1 point of heat each reactor tick.
Grid Integrated Heat Disperser.png Integrated Heat Disperser
These components will attempt to balance out the levels of heat within the reactor hull, any adjacent component capable of storing heat and itself. During each tick a disperser can exchange up to 25 heat with the reactor hull and up to 6 heat with each of the surrounding components. Note that if all Uranium Cells in a reactor are next to at least one cooling component and therefore no longer emit heat to the reactor itself, an Integrated Heat Dispenser is required to utilize the reactor's own cooling. In addition, as this component is able to exchange heat with the reactor itself, it can as well be used to "move" heat from one place to another inside the reactor (using the reactor's own heat storage as a medium), if for example the space around an Uranium Cell is not sufficient to completely cool the heat it emits.

One time items

No longer work with 1.3.2

Grid Water Bucket.png Water Bucket
When a reactor's hull has more than 4000 heat, it will evaporate the water inside the bucket, reducing the heat instantly by 250 points and leaving the empty bucket in the slot. This can be used to manually adjust the reactor's temperature or as a hint that the reactor is overheating.
Ice Block
If a reactor's hull has more that 300 heat, it will evaporate ice blocks each tick, reducing the heat instantly by 300 points per block evaporated until it is below the limit of 300 heat. Note that only one ice block per reactor slot is used up per tick, therefore the total amount of heat that can be reduced per tick is limited by the slots occupied by Ice Blocks. Thus even if a reactor is filled up with stacks of ice, it still can blow up violently. Ice blocks can be used to manually cool down a reactor, as a short-time cool-down system in extreme reactor setups, or as an indicator that the reactor is building up heat.
Grid Lava Bucket.png Lava Bucket
Placing a lava bucket inside a reactor will instantly increase the reactor's hull heat by 2,000 points, leaving the empty bucket in the slot. This is useful for 'breeder' type reactors to heat-up the reactor to increase the speed at which Depleted Isotope Cell recharge.

Heating and Cooling

Almost every component and the reactor itself can store heat in an effort to stave off a disaster. It is up to the cooling systems (and you) to get rid of this accumulated heat before the reactor cannot take any more.

The reactor's own storage (known as the reactor hull) starts off at 10,000, but that can be increased by up to 6 extra chambers (+1000 each) or placing plating into the reactor (+100). If the reactor hull reaches 50% of its maximum heat storage, then nearby water will begin to evaporate, and at 85% the reactor has a chance of removing itself from existence... violently.

Heat stored in components will be safely tucked away from the hull, but it will need time for the cooling systems to quench it all.

The most common source of heat is uranium cells, which will produce heat for each pulse they perform. The amount of heat depends on how many cooling components (Cooling Cell, Integrated Reactor Plating, Integrated Heat Disperser) are adjacent to the cell:

No. of Components Heat Generated
0 10 per pulse into the reactor hull
1 10 per pulse into component
2 8 per pulse, 4 for each component
3 6 per pulse, 2 for each component
4 4 per pulse, 1 for each component

Pro Tip and Warning: Remember, though putting uranium cells next to each other doubles the energy output, it doubles the heat as well, meaning that two uranium cells next to each other will generate 12 heat each with the max possible 3 components around each.

Formula:

H = Heat per Uranium cell
U = Number of adjacent Uranium cells
C = Number of adjacent Components
H = (U + 1) * (10 - (C - 1) * 2)


More cooling systems around a uranium cell mean less overall heat to deal with, making the reactor safer, but it also reduces the potential amount of EU a cell can produce. Risk vs. Reward.

Depleted Isotope cells only produce 1 heat per tick themselves, but they still react with adjacent Uranium Cells and make them pulse additional times.

Near-Depleted Uranium Cells and Re-Enriched Uranium Cells produce 1 heat per tick.

There are several ways to reduce a reactor's heat each tick:

Outside Source Cooling provided
The reactor itself 1 heat
Each reactor chamber added 2 heat per chamber
Water blocks within a 3x3x3 area* 1 heat per block
Air 'blocks' within a 3x3x3 area** 0.25 per block

* Both still and flowing water count.

** Torches, Redstone, and similar items won't count.

Internal Source Cooling provided
Cooling Cell 1 heat***
Integrated Reactor Plating 0.1 heat***
Ice blocks (single use) 300 heat per block
Water Buckets (single use) 250 heat per bucket

*** Cooling only occurs if the component in question has any heat stored.

The maximum outside cooling possible is 33 (reactor, 6 chambers and 20 water blocks).

If the amount of cooling available is less than the amount of heat produced then the reactor will gradually collect heat. There are various ways to deal with this:

  • Make a design that only has a slight amount of excess heat so that even when the Uranium Cells are used up the heat levels are still not dangerous.
  • Manually drop Ice blocks and/or Water buckets into the reactor.
  • Apply Redstone current to the reactor (or one of its chambers), causing it to stop generating heat and EU for as long as the Redstone current is active.
    • An overheating reactor can be detected by placing redstone dust on top of wood blocks close to the reactor and sending a redstone signal through it; when the reactor heats up past 40%, the wood will burn, breaking the circuit. If this circuit's output is inverted and routed back to the reactor (not on wood blocks, to ensure the segment after the inverter is not destroyed!), it can serve as an automated shutdown / alarm circuit.

Heat management for a 'Breeder' type reactor is different. Breeders work best when running hot, so it's best to make a design that has exactly the same heat and cooling amount, then manually boost the heat by adding lava buckets, removing cooling, or temporarily adding extra uranium cells.

Reactors will emit smoke particles when warm and fire particles when hot. Be careful when using lava buckets, as the 2000 heat goes directly into the hull, and the heat dispersers need time to pull it into the cooling systems.