Draconic Reactor Experimentation

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mathchamp

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Jul 29, 2019
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I decided to play around with the draconic reactor in a test world and do some informal experimentation. I've made the following findings. First the more obvious (the stuff that comes in the manual):
  • The field will take as much RF as you pour into it. You should regulate the rate that RF is fed to the containment field to avoid waste.
  • RF will be extracted as quickly as the load demands. This will cause the energy saturation to drop, speeding up the reaction and raising the temperature. You must regulate your output or else you'll overheat and explode.
  • A temperature above 8000 increases demand on the containment field exponentially.
Other findings:
  • The power generated is proportional to the size of your core, but the fuel conversion rate is independent of the core size. Therefore you usually want to run a maximum-size core (8 blocks of awakened draconium) for maximum efficiency.
  • Efficiency is independent of energy saturation and temperature. As the energy saturation falls, the reaction will speed up. Generation rate, conversion rate, and field drain rate all increase, and temperature will rise. If you don't output any RF, then energy saturation will approach 100%, and the reactor will eventually pause completely. A load-following mode is doable.
  • Field drain rate and fuel conversion rate appear to depend on energy saturation only (for a given core size - field drain rate is proportional to core size).
  • As fuel conversion increases, the reaction's power, heat, and efficiency all increase. This means, if you hold energy saturation fixed, the power will gradually rise, the temperature will gradually rise, but fuel conversion rate will remain about the same. If you regulate the temperature, power will gradually rise, energy saturation will gradually rise, and fuel conversion rate will gradually fall. If you regulate output, then the temperature and fuel conversion rate will both fall as the energy saturation rises. At a high conversion ratio, efficiency can be 5x or more better than when "fresh".
  • There's an additional effect where each full millibucket of fuel used up will cause generation rate and heat generation to drop. You can let energy saturation drop to compensate. This effect is relatively minor compared to the previous effect.
  • The displayed field drain rate is inaccurate. The actual RF/t required to maintain the field is significantly lower (unless you let the field approach 100%). A lower value for the field appears to lower the RF/t demand, but that eats into your margin of safety since the reactor explodes if it reaches 0%. The containment field % doesn't appear to affect anything else (besides the colour of the core).
  • Above around 80% conversion, things change a little. Efficiency still continues to increase, but it gets more and more difficult to run the reactor cool, and at some point you'll actually have to start reducing power output to keep the temperature constant. It appears that it gets increasingly difficult to get rid of heat as the conversion ratio increases. This also means it gets harder and harder to shut down (it will take increasingly long for it to cool down to the point where you can refuel). At a certain point you cannot run the reactor at any power while holding temperature (somewhere around 97%, but I haven't tested this fully for different temperatures). The temperature will just keep increasing until the containment field can't hold up anymore. You probably want to shut down at around 80%, and going above 90% gets increasingly risky and you'll also be increasing your downtime.