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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)

1925: Japan gets a literal power boost (RAR!)

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Zor
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 07:07am 

Sith Acolyte


Joined: 2004-06-08 03:37am
Posts: 5316
In this scenario in 1925 Japanese fishermen find something off the coast of Hokkaido which is most unusual, this artifact is salvaged and taken up. It is a large container about 48 meters long, 19 meters across and 19 meters tall and covered in barnacles, sediment and so forth. Attached to it's sides are a number of projections that have been damaged by long term exposure to heat, but some of them look like latches and others look like machines. The main body of it has suffered external damage from heat, but never the less remains intact. The Japanese eventually find that one side of it has a door of some sort and after some work manages to get through it to its inside, which was despite sitting underwater for thousands of years was depressurized.

Inside it in on Holding Frames are a pair machines with strange writing on them and a variety of three armed three legged creatures in various poses around it. After someone presses a button on one of them, one of them unfurls itself and rights itself shortly afterwards and a display appears at human height. A similar button is located on the other. The unfurled one has an hopper on one end and a conveyor belt on another while an interface exists on one end with a graphic user interface with various visual displays. Eventually someone decides to feed some material into it, which it grinds up and fills internal stores with, with unusable material coming out in ingots. Eventually enough materials of the appropriate varieties is fed into it that something comes rolling off the assembly line shortly after.

This machine is a Fabricator, what it does is it breaks down materials to their component molecules, filters out unwanted elements and uses them fabricates is power cells, hexagonal prism shaped devices about 22cm long and 7cm across with two electrodes weighing about four kilos. Each of these cells has an energy capacity of 343 megajoules of electric energy, is made from very common elements and is rechargeable. Fed a constant supply of material and a small amount of water to power it, it can make two cells every second. It is self repairing.

The second is of a similar nature, but it's production output is slower. What it makes are devices which are larger (about the size of a small car) and far more complex. If fed enough raw materials (including a larger amount of metals) every 2.2 days it assembles a one tonne doughnut shaped device on wheels with a few other devices attached, including electrodes. These are Microfusion Reactors complete with deuterium extraction apparatuses. All you need to do is pour water into them and soon they will be generating 1.18 megawatts of power.

Both of these machines are soon relocated to a safe location and put to work.

What happens?

Zor
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LaCroix
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 08:11am 

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Joined: 2004-12-21 01:14pm
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So every ~2 days, they produce about 1360 hp equivalent. Running on water. Use a bit of said energy to distill seawater to avoid problems, and you have ships running infinitively.This should be a big boon to shipyards, especially allowing a really great submarine force.

We don't know the size of the donut reactors, but if small enough, each of those should be easily allow to run a tank from. Or even a plane.

But I doubt that, because of a simple problem.

It extracts Deuterium. Since the non-deuterium parts of water run right through that filter (and hopefully can still be used for human consumption after that, or it would be a huge waste), it means you need a lot of water, so the reactors on land would neet to be stationary. At a water source. Which could be tricky, but not unsolveable. You need a nearby source of water for your troops, anyway. Make them use a plug-in socket to exchange cells quickly and ferry truckloads of spares them between the units and reactor-equipped recharge trucks sitting near the nearest body of water. Still vastly better than trying to move gasoline around.

You could use the cells for vehicles just fine - they have 0.1 Mwh of energy, so twelve of these tiny things would run something at the reactor's level for an hour. For about 50 klilos of fuel weight. Planes and tanks would have epic ranges if you replace their fuel weight for weight.

Also, things would be much more reliable as you could eleminate a lot of error sources if you could remove the combustion engine and run them fully electric. Less gears, easier drive train, better concealabily (eliminates most noise and smoke, only dust remains), no need for vulnerable air intake or fuel tank. You'd probably be able to improve a lot of aspects using the saved space and weight.

Lasers were still in their theoretical infancy at this time, so I doubt they would get any of those.

Question is - how do these cells react to heat or damage? Do they explode? 343 MJ getting release all at once can be a pretty hefty event. A tank cannon has muzzle energies in the low double digit MJ. If you could put one of these into a shell or a bomb and make it go "splat-BOOOM" against a target reliably, they would serve nicely for ammunition, too.

Last edited by LaCroix on 2015-04-24 08:20am, edited 1 time in total.
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Borgholio
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 08:18am 

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Joined: 2010-09-03 09:31pm
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Well I think this would have the potential to stop World War 2 before it started. The whole point of Japanese aggression in the Pacific was to secure oil supplies. What do they use oil for? Fuel. If you remove the need for fuel thanks to this device, there's no need to make war for it. They might still want to secure a buffer zone of course (which is reasonable), but they wouldn't need to do what they did IRL.
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LaCroix
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 08:33am 

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Borgholio wrote:
Well I think this would have the potential to stop World War 2 before it started. The whole point of Japanese aggression in the Pacific was to secure oil supplies. What do they use oil for? Fuel. If you remove the need for fuel thanks to this device, there's no need to make war for it. They might still want to secure a buffer zone of course (which is reasonable), but they wouldn't need to do what they did IRL.


Securing a buffer zone would mean that they need to take territory claimed by the brits and the US. Not much chance to get this peacefully. Apart from the fact that the Japanese were buying into the übermenschen theory jsut as hard as the Germans, simply with themselves serving that role. They would expand, simply because they could.

Also, they needed more than just oil - steel, for example. ANd since they now have highly superior logistics and weapons, they would know that they can't be stopped, instead of hoping on a lucky shot like Pearl Harbor. Their navy now has unlimited range, which also makes them a huge threat. Originally, they were unable to really reach the US. Now, it's just a question of how fast they can run without damaging the engines.

They also have longer range for airplanes, which means they can attack carriers while their own are still out of range. They are well en route to becoming a dominating superpower with that technology in their pocket.

The more important questions are:
Would they ally with the Germans?
If yes - would they send troops and equipment to aid?
Or, even better - would the rest of the world ally against them once they find out?

I'm assuming that other states will certainly manage to get some cells or even a reactor by means of espionage, if they really want to, and know pretty soon what the Japanese are capable of.
Everyone would try to take them apart and try to recreate them, for sure, but - would they try to find and steal or destroy the fabricators, just to avoid Japan becoming unstoppable? I think so.

I can very well see the other nations letting Germany "reclaim" "rightful" Eastern European territory in an orderly fashion, just to avoid winding up in an additional conflict, and securing Germanies help in an alliance against Japanese upstarts. Russia would bend over backwards to help, since it's at their doorstep.
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 11:10am 

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By 1929 Japan can have produced about 700 megawatt cold fusion reactors and roughly 250 million of these 100 kWh super-batteries. The 250 million super-batteries are more than Japan can possibly use, and since it costs virtually nothing to manufacture them, and only Japan possesses the means to manufacture them, they are an ideal candidate for export. Japan could make billions off export of the batteries... and billions counted in those days.

[I assume the super-batteries cannot be duplicated by normal means, due to nanotechnology or something similarly exotic being involved]

A few such batteries will power a car- one super-battery contains energy equivalent to three gallons of gas. However, the lack of rural electrification makes it impractical to use electric cars outside of urban areas in the 1920s and '30s.

A tank would require dozens upon dozens of batteries; gas mileage for a WWII tank would typically be on the close order of one mile per gallon. And it would be very unwise to rely on electrical power supplies for a vehicle that by nature has to be able to operate anywhere. Especially in a war zone, where electrical power supplies are going to be at best unreliable.

An airplane, again, would need about one four-kilogram battery to replace three gallons of gas in its fuel tank, so in weight terms it becomes quite favorable to build electric-powered airplanes using the batteries.

Using the fusion reactors to drive a tank or airplane directly works, but Japan is limited to making about 130 such reactors a year. This is not nearly enough to support production of more than a relative handful of heavy tanks (which doctrinally Japan had little interest in) or long range heavy bombers (which Japan historically had some interest in). Therefore, military vehicle production will still have to rely on either battery power or piston-engines for most needs.

If Japan's overall aviation industry makes an extreme effort, they could design an intercontinental heavy bomber using the fusion reactors for power without difficulty... but to build something in the same size class as a B-29 (with nigh-unlimited range), they would need the equivalent of four 2200-horsepower motors, which might well translate to six or eight fusion reactors. That means they could only build a few dozen a year of the things, and that would absorb their entire fusion reactor production capacity.

Likewise, power output equivalent to the shaft horsepower of a Nagato-class battleship would require roughly fifty or so of the fusion reactors; a Yamato-class super-battleship would require a hundred. They only have enough to power about one battleship or carrier a year, again using much if not all their production power.

Submarines are a more practical application, as Japan can build a few dozen submarines a year that run on several fusion reactors each.
_____________________

By 1933, before Hitler takes power, Japan can potentially have exported enough batteries to provide an electric car for every adult in Japan, the US, and much of Europe. This obviously won't mean a car for everyone, but it gives an illustrative example of the scale of production we're talking about.

This may have very far-reaching implications for the world economy, among other things because it gives Japan a highly desirable export product to trade for any raw materials it may need.
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VX-145
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 11:57am 

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Joined: 2008-10-30 07:10am
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Location: I don't know. Honestly.
Assuming everyone doesn't instantly invade Japan once they learn about this new technology (a sort-of valid assumption, I imagine Britain and America at least wouldn't want to get involved in such a war just yet):

Politically speaking, the ramifications are enormous. With this technology, Japan is essentially immune to the effects of the Depression. If they need money, they can just sell some of their free power or even a reactor or two - no-one's going to be able to copy them in a reasonable amount of time. Leaving aside all sorts of cultural possibilities (including the interesting notion of a fusion between middle-class casual Marxism and consumerism), the main effect this would have is to prevent the military from gaining as much power as they did historically. One of the reasons they managed to gain such a stranglehold on the civilian government was because they were the only part of Japanese society that seemed to be working. Of course, the military's still going to be important - battleships and so on are massively prestigious - but it won't be as much of an issue.

This massively reduces the chance that Japan gets involved in the same sort of war in the Pacific that they did historically. Others have spoken about the need for resources - which, again, they can just buy with money - but it has to be borne in mind that the main demand for these resources was the military. I don't have the exact figure on hand, but it took up more than 50% of the nation's GDP if my memory serves (and it normally doesn't, so if I'm wrong please correct me). Less power in the hands of the military = lower military budgets (to a point) = less demand for resources. Of course, we're talking alternate history here, so it's entirely possible that they do still get involved in the same way (albeit with different technologies, the ramifications of which I'm not really considering here), and it's quite likely that the Japanese still get involved in China and the rest of South-East Asia in some capacity, but the war would be on a far smaller scale relatively speaking.

Beyond that point, events begin to diverge to the point where I'm not even going to hazard a guess as to what happens next. I'm not even going to get into the mess that this would cause in Europe, mostly because I can't be arsed to work it through right now. Once everyone realises just what Japan's stumbled on to, things are going to get more than a little tense.
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LaCroix
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 01:46pm 

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Joined: 2004-12-21 01:14pm
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Big part of Japans militarisation was due to the knowledge that unless they become a military power, they'd end up as a colonial backwater to pluck as you wish. Like china did. Combined with the knowledge that they have something the big nations really want to have themselves, I don't think they will feel much safer...

Airplane wise, I think building their carrier planes would be the best way to invest - you can double or triple their range, making your carriers formidable strikers, and basically, the carrier fleet is what will keep your island safe. Build more carriers and cruisers instead of battleships, and you can get a fleet that will make everybody think twice, and then leave.

I don't think you need heavy bombers that much.
A zero had a range of about 1900 km with internal 183 gal tanks - exchanged weight for weight (1 gal is about the weight of 1 battery) and assuming the motor weights are identical, they'd have a 5-6000 km range aircraft. That's more than twice of what the US fighter could do with drop tanks, and equal to a B24 and quite close to B29.
Do the same to their D4Y type dive bombers or they medium bombers, and you outrange US heavy bombers by quite a margin.

You could do the same treatment for the heavy bombers they have (They'd need 800-1000 cells per sortie (again, gallon equivalent), but they are producing 120 per minute, and unlike gasoline, they can be simply replaced and/or recharged when the plane comes back...), and would have bombers able to bomb the USA (or any fleet in the Pacific) while taking off from Japanese soil (between 9 and 12000 km range).


I personally doubt you could use the reactors in something other than a ship - if it only filters natural occuring Deuterium out of water like the OP suggests, you would need to pump a lot of water into it to keep it running.
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Me2005
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 02:58pm 

Youngling


Joined: 2012-09-20 02:09pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
A tank would require dozens upon dozens of batteries; gas mileage for a WWII tank would typically be on the close order of one mile per gallon. And it would be very unwise to rely on electrical power supplies for a vehicle that by nature has to be able to operate anywhere. Especially in a war zone, where electrical power supplies are going to be at best unreliable.

An airplane, again, would need about one four-kilogram battery to replace three gallons of gas in its fuel tank, so in weight terms it becomes quite favorable to build electric-powered airplanes using the batteries.


Might it make sense to build hybrid tanks & aircraft though? Build them with onboard generators, or provide generator support-tanks? Having tanks and aircraft that aren't nearly as flammable would be a big boon.
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Tribble
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 06:18pm 

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Joined: 2008-11-18 12:28pm
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Location: stardestroyer.net
Well, having the US lose all of its carriers didn't work, controlling the dolphins and whales didn't work... so let's give Japan alien technology to fabricate Microfusion reactors complete with deuterium extraction apparatuses! Oh, and rechargeable cells with an energy capacity of 343 megajoules!

My question is: how can we use both technologies to Japan's advantage? I'm thinking of strapping some kind of propulsion device onto the dolphins in order to increase their range (plus they would be able to keep traveling in their sleep). Or maybe the cells have enough energy to make some kind of ranged weapon out of them, something that the dolphins will agree to use? Would a whale be able to carry the microfusion reactor?
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 06:58pm 

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Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
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LaCroix wrote:
Airplane wise, I think building their carrier planes would be the best way to invest - you can double or triple their range, making your carriers formidable strikers, and basically, the carrier fleet is what will keep your island safe. Build more carriers and cruisers instead of battleships, and you can get a fleet that will make everybody think twice, and then leave.

I don't think you need heavy bombers that much.
A zero had a range of about 1900 km with internal 183 gal tanks - exchanged weight for weight (1 gal is about the weight of 1 battery) and assuming the motor weights are identical, they'd have a 5-6000 km range aircraft. That's more than twice of what the US fighter could do with drop tanks, and equal to a B24 and quite close to B29.
Do the same to their D4Y type dive bombers or they medium bombers, and you outrange US heavy bombers by quite a margin.
The problem there is that this is a single-seat aircraft. One pilot can't easily fly out for three thousand kilometers, fight an air battle, and fly back without a fair number of people crashing from sheer pilot exhaustion.

So you'd want to build heavier fighters with multiple pilots just to make that viable- and with WWII technology you're not going to make very practical fighters out of that. The US tried valiantly with the Twin Mustang.

It's easier with bombers, they're dedicated strike aircraft and can have a pilot/copilot arrangement in principle.

Quote:
You could do the same treatment for the heavy bombers they have (They'd need 800-1000 cells per sortie (again, gallon equivalent), but they are producing 120 per minute, and unlike gasoline, they can be simply replaced and/or recharged when the plane comes back...), and would have bombers able to bomb the USA (or any fleet in the Pacific) while taking off from Japanese soil (between 9 and 12000 km range).
This is actually much more practical in my opinion. The main issue is physically building a bomber airframe that is large enough and can fly above the ceiling of USAF interceptors- being powered by batteries confers a range advantage but doesn't automatically translate into being faster or more agile.

Then again, once you're talking about a bomber that large you might as well go whole hog and put a cold fusion reactor in it... IF you could afford to, which arguably you can't because there aren't very many of them.

Quote:
I personally doubt you could use the reactors in something other than a ship - if it only filters natural occuring Deuterium out of water like the OP suggests, you would need to pump a lot of water into it to keep it running.
Deuterium makes up about one part in 7000 of hydrogen in seawater, and therefore, oh... roughly one part in 60000 of seawater by total mass since water is about 1/9 hydrogen by mass. So sixty tonnes (roughly sixty cubic meters) of seawater yield one kilogram of deuterium, which in turn yields roughly 300 terajoules of power. Even allowing for massive efficiency losses...

You can take sixty tons of water in the tank and run this reactor at its rated 1.2 MW output for 250 million seconds- about seven or eight years.

[I'm estimating imprecisely here to make it doable by mental arithmetic; I can do it more accurately later if you want]

One interesting question is whether the reactors can 'stock up' on deuterium. Do you have to feed them a constant stream of water, or can they store deuterium in an internal tank?

Me2005 wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
A tank would require dozens upon dozens of batteries; gas mileage for a WWII tank would typically be on the close order of one mile per gallon. And it would be very unwise to rely on electrical power supplies for a vehicle that by nature has to be able to operate anywhere. Especially in a war zone, where electrical power supplies are going to be at best unreliable.

An airplane, again, would need about one four-kilogram battery to replace three gallons of gas in its fuel tank, so in weight terms it becomes quite favorable to build electric-powered airplanes using the batteries.
Might it make sense to build hybrid tanks & aircraft though? Build them with onboard generators, or provide generator support-tanks? Having tanks and aircraft that aren't nearly as flammable would be a big boon.
First of all, it's not obvious that the batteries aren't flammable unless I missed something.

Also, you do NOT want a situation where you have several electric tanks that are immobile unless regularly recharged by a dedicated generator. That generator becomes a serious vulnerability. Especially since in this case, to charge up a battery that can do the work of a tank engine for one hour, you'd need, well... to run a tank engine for one hour.

It's much more practical with aircraft because aircraft already operate from fixed centralized bases.
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The Duchess of Zeon
PostPosted: 2015-04-24 11:29pm 

Gözde


Joined: 2002-09-18 01:06am
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Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.
Modern day Japan includes Manchuria and Taiwan and Korea The rest of China is still independent and has risen, because no matter how sophisticated you are, guerrilla war is guerrilla war. But that much we can say for sure.
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Zor
PostPosted: 2015-04-25 10:00am 

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Joined: 2004-06-08 03:37am
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Simon_Jester wrote:
One interesting question is whether the reactors can 'stock up' on deuterium. Do you have to feed them a constant stream of water, or can they store deuterium in an internal tank?

They have a small tank with a capacity of 1.18 liters for fuel storage.

Zor
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2015-04-25 11:47am 

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Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
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The question is, does that store water, or deuterium? You never said.

Sixty tonnes of seawater corresponds to (assuming 90% inefficiency losses just so we're not overoptimistic) about thirty terajoules of energy. One tonne thus indicates half a terajoule, and one kilogram of seawater will have about 500 MJ worth of fusion energy... enough to run the reactor for about six or seven minutes. Improving efficiency increases those odds but not by much.

1.18 L is an arbitrary and silly number but it's only a little more than a kilogram. So storing that much water would only run the reactor for 10-20 minutes, tops.

Then again, if the problem is to store seawater in a tank, that's easily addressed with 1925 technology, and they can literally just build a big tank of water and pump it straight into the reactor, one liter at a time.

If the 1.18 L tank stores the deuterium itself, then it is VITALLY important to know what form it stores the stuff in. 1.18 liters of deuterium in gaseous form at room temperature and pressure is a very different amount than 1.18 liters of deuterium in a compressed metallic-hydrogen state.
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Shinn Langley Soryu
PostPosted: 2015-04-25 02:01pm 

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Joined: 2006-08-18 11:27pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
Me2005 wrote:
Might it make sense to build hybrid tanks & aircraft though? Build them with onboard generators, or provide generator support-tanks? Having tanks and aircraft that aren't nearly as flammable would be a big boon.
First of all, it's not obvious that the batteries aren't flammable unless I missed something.

Japanese aircraft of the period were notorious for going up in flames if enemy fire so much as grazed them, what with the thin armor and non-self-sealing gas tanks and such. The batteries may not be flammable, but the rest of the airplane is.

Tribble wrote:
Well, having the US lose all of its carriers didn't work, controlling the dolphins and whales didn't work... so let's give Japan alien technology to fabricate Microfusion reactors complete with deuterium extraction apparatuses! Oh, and rechargeable cells with an energy capacity of 343 megajoules!

I still get the feeling that Japan will lose, even with alien space bats intervening on their behalf. It'd be a harder victory for the United States and the rest of the Allies, but it'd still be a victory nonetheless.
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Zor
PostPosted: 2015-04-25 02:21pm 

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Joined: 2004-06-08 03:37am
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Simon_Jester wrote:
The question is, does that store water, or deuterium? You never said.

Deuterium in the form of heavy water, with the molecules broken before actual use.

Zor

Last edited by Zor on 2015-04-25 02:26pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2015-04-25 02:24pm 

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At what density?

And, Shinn- you're right that the batteries would decrease flammability of Japanese aircraft. Ground vehicles, maybe not so much. I suspect the main advantage is that the batteries have much lower volume, and for that very reason can be armored or built with fire suppression systems.
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Sea Skimmer
PostPosted: 2015-04-26 02:19pm 

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Shinn Langley Soryu wrote:
Japanese aircraft of the period were notorious for going up in flames if enemy fire so much as grazed them, what with the thin armor and non-self-sealing gas tanks and such. The batteries may not be flammable, but the rest of the airplane is.


Metal skinned planes are not known for burning well! Its really a straightforward fuel tank issue, not much else actually can burn other then the ammunition which is pretty hard to ignite.

Not self sealing was bad, though no USN aircraft fuel tanks were self sealing in 1941 either (this was changed by Midway). However for the Japanese the big bonus problem that made them so infamous for this was simply that Japanese aircraft were so lightly built, the Zero being super bad at this with its elegant but combat impractical construction. This meant the hydrostatic shock of heavy gunfire penetrating the fuel tanks would physically burst them apart. So the tanks didn't just catch on fire, they massively ruptured, creating a instant fuel air epxlosion, and then the same weak structure would let the wings blow apart. Take away the fuel tanks and all of this goes away. No self sealing fuel tank aircraft could be superior.

Japan didn't notice this was a problem earlier because most Chinese aircraft had only .30cal class machine guns which were simply unlikely to break the tanks in this manner, or cause other forms of structural breakup. .50cal and up would, and the vulnerability was only higher if the tank was nearly full. Normally nearly full fuel tanks are less vulnerable to fire because vapor is easier to ignite then liquid. More fuel you have in the tank the less space you have for vapor. Nobody had aircraft fuel tank inerting systems in WW2.

Later in the war ~1943 on the Japanese had self sealing tanks and in some cases more strongly built aircraft but the pilot issue made it irrelevant.
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Sky Captain
PostPosted: 2015-04-29 05:19am 

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Joined: 2008-11-14 01:47pm
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Location: Latvia
Submarines would benefit most from this technology. Japan could build submarines with performance similar to early nuclear submarines. To spare as much fusion reactors for other uses build submarines with enough reactors to only sustain normal cruise speed with some power left for battery charging. For high speed combat maneuvers use banks of those super batteries charged during slow speed cruise.
WWII era anti submarine warfare would find it very hard to deal with submarines that could go 30+ knots under water.
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2015-04-30 02:49am 

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Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
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Zor wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
The question is, does that store water, or deuterium? You never said.

Deuterium in the form of heavy water, with the molecules broken before actual use.

Zor
In that case the 1.18 liter tank contains roughly 230 grams of deuterium which is enough to last a loooong time without refilling it on more seawater. Around 70 terajoules of electrical energy would be stored in that much deuterium, even assuming 10% efficiency for the reactor- enough that it can run for sixty million seconds, or a little less than two years.
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Zor
PostPosted: 2015-05-02 02:35pm 

Sith Acolyte


Joined: 2004-06-08 03:37am
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How much electricity was Japan producing by WWII?

Zor
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2015-05-02 06:17pm 

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Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
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https://books.google.com/books?id=LxnZq ... 40&f=false

26.6 thousand million kilowatt-hours in 1937, probably increasing by 1-2 million a year if the 1936-37 rise is any guide, so I'm estimating maybe 30 thousand million kilowatt-hours around 1940 for a benchmark.

That translates as about 3.4 million kilowatt-years, so around 3.4 gigawatts of total electrical power output sounds right.
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