The better the reactor power/mass ratio is, the higher combat distances will be. Laserstar meta introduces an order or two of magnitude larger distances.
Also, I cannot say that 20 km is a common engagement range in the game. It's more like 20-50 for some vanilla ships and 200-1000+ for hyper-optimized ones. Not mentioning, that CQC is a highly irrational solution in the game, and carriers/missile ships are more advantageous.
Mind you, at 50km the vanilla designs aren't that effective. That's when the engagement starts, not necessarily when it's resolved, which usually happens closer to 20km, depending on the weapons used.
Missile and drone carriers are great until they run out of ordnance. They are good (just like in today's naval warfare), but at the same time, the same type of weapon that makes a great missile defense also tends to make a great ship killer due to sheer volume of rounds it puts out. If a ship doesn't put some of its reactor power into close-in defense, it might be in for a nasty surprise when something does plow through its missile swarms. Guns are making a comeback on modern warships for similar reasons (that, and shore bombardment, which is very expensive to do with missiles), but it's actually easier in space because the guns generally have a longer range.
I work at NASA on NTR (some of my coworkers papers are quoted in the game actually) and qswitched’s view of space nuclear propulsion and power is great...for an amateur enthusiast. CoaDE’s view of where this tech will all end up is just ... weird. I’ll get into details after more play and when I get more time if anyone wants.
I like to pretend the reactors are all using turbo machinery because ... there's no way you're getting in-game efficiencies with thermocouples. But even with supercritical CO2 replacing steam (DoE recently demo'd a 1 (10?) MWe "table top" turbine running on SC CO2 [ref] at 715 C) we're still a long way from the 2000 K+ coolant loops in this game.
There seems to be more talk of NTRs recently, what about them in COADE strikes you as weird?
Also, in one talk I saw an Xray FEL beam ionize air and make a little light saber. Scary stuff, but looks like it takes an entire facility worth of equipment to generate it right now.
Mind you, thermocouples we are using are highly exotic. It might be possible to generate efficiencies we have, but osmium, for example, is extremely expensive. Turbines are used in powerplants because they're much less expensive. In general, civilian power plants are not a good match for reactors that we use, and even naval ones are not mass-optimized (they go for volume optimization instead). Optimal COADE reactors actually run on very low thermal efficiency in order to have smaller radiators, a concern not shared with any terrestrial reactor. We won't see loops that hot in terrestrial designs because they aren't needed nor wanted, and we're not using weapons-grade uranium for the same reasons (though we probably could).
[...] reactors that we use, and even naval ones are not mass-optimized (they go for volume optimization instead)
why, some of designs I played with back in the day were volume-optimized too, because of armor mass and architectural concerns...
We won't see loops that hot in terrestrial designs because they aren't needed nor wanted
why, they are surely wanted for tasks like atmospheric CO2 sequestration! But you - you won't tell anybody about that, right? ;) Else they may realize that carbon tax is a global-scale scam... Also thermionics.
Last Edit: Sept 3, 2021 20:54:45 GMT by cipherpunks: typo
If you want to pyrolyse CO2 in a nuclear reactor, you need a completely different design that would be optimized for generating high temperatures this requires. It's a nice idea, but not actually optimal for power generation (although it could do that on the side, of course). We also don't currently have any reactors of that type. Building a new type of reactor is a long and expensive affair, I'd say a carbon tax would actually get better results faster. That said, at the rate things are going, we're going to need sequestration anyway.
Yeah, we optimize for volume because less volume=less mass to a degree, but take a look at what the reactor size actually is. The thermocouple is the largest part of COADE reactors, the actual reactor vessel is rather dinky, especially if using weapons-grade fuel. It's also where the mass is, but I'm pretty sure a turbine designed to run in those conditions would weigh a lot, too, even if you made it out of amorphous carbon. Of course, turbines being heavy doesn't bother a waterborne ship, so it can take the mass penalty. Turbines are also cheaper than huge chunks of osmium and tungsten, which is a big factor in the real world.