Guide to the Supermatter
The Supermatter Crystal is the primary power source in most stations. A Supermatter Shard can be ordered from Cargo, which works the same way, but can be moved around. Its primary features are emitting tons of radiation, making everyone who could theoretically see it hallucinate, releasing hot oxygen and plasma, heating the air around, and exploding or creating singularity/tesla if you screw up. It begins inert but being hit by an object or projectile will activate it and it'll start producing huge amounts of radiation, which can be converted to power with the radiation collectors.
|Do NOT run into the Supermatter to commit suicide at round start as this will activate it before actual engineers can set up the cooling! You will be banned.|
- 1 Words of Warning
- 2 Mechanics
- 2.1 Power
- 2.2 Instability
- 2.3 Gas Interactions
- 2.4 Gas Production
- 2.5 Irradiation
- 2.6 Consuming
- 2.7 Collapsing
- 2.8 Cooling
- 3 A Practical Guide to The Supermatter
- 4 Troubleshooting AKA Oh god it's on fire what do I do!?
- 5 Sabotaging the supermatter
- 6 Cold gas, a glowy crystal, some lasers, and you: A deeper dive into the Supermatter Engine
Words of Warning
- The Supermatter is VERY DANGEROUS. Activating the Supermatter should be the last step in setting up any form of Supermatter based power! If you ordered it from cargo the crate should stay LOCKED AND SECURED until everything is ready.
- You require safety gear. A full radiation suit AND meson scanners.
- Most of "setting up the Supermatter" involves a gas loop that is designed to cool down the Supermatter chamber. While not required, please have some knowledge of gasses, or atmospheric properties.
- Anything that bumps into the Supermatter is fundamentally annihilated. Don't touch it. This means weld, and ask the AI to bolt the door to the Supermatter .
- Of all clothing normally available on the station, only radiation suits and the CE's hardsuit have complete radiation protection. The engineering hardsuit has 75% radiation protection. Atmos hardsuit has 25%. RD's and CMO's have 60%. Even a small amount of radiation might end up being debilitating, so if you're working near an active Supermatter Engine, make sure you're dressed for the job.
The supermatter is an extremely unstable crystal with particular properties. Here's how it behaves:
The crystal's power determines how much energy is produced each tick, and also the range and amount of radiation and hallucinations generated. (a 'tick' usually takes around 1-5 seconds depending on lag)
- Power decays over time.
- Hitting the crystal with a non-physical bullet (usually emitters) will increase its power.
- Power is increased every tick depending on the gas mix. This scales with the gas' temperature.
- Consuming an object or mob will increase the power by a significant amount, independently from the object's size.
- Power decay can be lowered or even completely prevented with CO2.
- Too much power will result in dangerous sideeffects, like arcs of lightning or anomalies.
The crystal must be kept stable if you don't want it to explode.
- Stability does not change by itself.
- The crystal grows unstable if the gas mix is hotter than 310K. It will instead stabilize when it is cooler than 310K.
- Physical bullets will destabilize the crystal, depending on the damage they do.
- Large amounts of power will destabilize the crystal.
- Large amounts of moles will not only destabilize the crystal but also prevent the stabilizing effect of cold gases.
Each gas has a different effect when it surrounds the supermatter crystal. The strength of each effect depends on the percentage of it in the gasmix in the supermatter chamber.
Safety: Very safe but stops power generation
When introduced it will stop any radiation emission. It greatly helps the SM cool down at the cost of stopping the power generation (useful if dealing with hot delaminations). It has high specific heat, even higher than plasma.
Warning though, when the SM cools down the freon will start interacting with the O2 until depleted and could generate hot ice .
Freon was removed as of Oct, 2017, and then reintroduced in March, 2020.
Pluoxium halves power generation while having a higher waste penalty than many other gasses such as nitrogen and CO2. It is probably better to remove it from the loop in order to create buffed up internals or just as export material for cargo.
Safety: Very Safe
N2 is a good safety gas. It actively lowers the temperature and the amount of waste gases that the supermatter crystal produces.
Precooled N2 is good to have around for emergencies.
Safety: Very Risky (but only if you mess up some other way)
N2O reinforces the heat resistance of the supermatter crystal, allowing for much hotter setups than usual. However, at higher temperatures (such as during a heat delamination) it will decay into O2 and N2. While N2 is good for the supermatter, O2 most certainly is not. This O2 will also react with the Plasma to create Tritium and then, to the further horror of many an Engineer, a Tritium fire. Marked as risky only to stop you from throwing N2O into the SM mindlessly. Yes, you.
Safety: ? "Similar to trit, less radiation emission, same heat production and a bit of heat protection".
CO2 is a potentially dangerous yet very rewarding gas - in low concentrations, it will increase the crystal's power generation and can be used to produce Pluoxium as well.
In high concentrations, however, it will raise the crystal's energy to extremely high levels. With proper management and preparation, this is a phenomenal way to generate power. With poor management and insufficient or downright bad preparation, it will eventually exceed safe energy levels and begin a charge delamination, producing electric arcs and anomalies until it eventually explodes into a Tesla ball.
Safety: Relatively Dangerous
Oxygen provides a boost to power transmission without actively increasing the waste gas amount or temperature.
Pretty risky to use, as any disruption of the cooling loop will soon cause a plasma fire in the crystal chamber. Even just a high concentration of O2 will activate and continuously power the crystal.
If you're badass enough to run an O2 setup: Always precool it before flooding the Supermatter chamber.
BZ increases the heat produced by the supermatter and lowers the radiation (still generates more power and radiation than N2.) At 40% of the mix, the Supermatter will start to fire irradiating nuclear particles. Don't get hit by these, regardless of your clothing.
No special reaction.
Safety: Very dangerous
Plasma is very similar to Oxygen but provides a much higher power boost as well as waste and heat penalty. The extreme pressures and volumes of gas produced by this gas are very likely to clog pipes.
WARNING: The roundstart setup cannot handle pure plasma setups.
Safety: OH GOD OH F*CK
Tritium increases the radiation production of the Supermatter by up to 3 times, without BZ's downside of lowering energy production. There is one slight issue with it.
Tritium is dangerous. Tritium is very dangerous. Tritium makes Plasma seem safe. Even with extremely robust cooling systems, Tritium is a horrifyingly irritable and jumpy gas. While it isn't as harmful to the heat level as Plasma is (just barely), it also has the second worst heat capacity of all gasses while Plasma has the second highest. This means that Plasma can be kept happy with enough cooling, whereas Tritium eagerly goes from a safe space loop into a burning hellfire. Add to this the byproduct of large amounts of Oxygen production (not exclusive to Tritium. An issue in a Plasma engine too), and you have a tritium fire and a very hot crystal. Do not use this gas unless you have a very strong understanding of atmospherics and the Supermatter, and are willing to get creative.
The crystal produces plasma and oxygen while it's active.
- Plasma and Oxygen burn if they're hot enough. This will heavily increase the temperature and reduce the oxygen percentage; if not kept under control this can end up destabilizing the crystal.
- The amount and temperature of the produced gas are determined by the current crystal power.
- The amount of oxygen is proportional to the temperature of the absorbed gases. Very cold gas input will result in very little oxygen.
The crystal will affect nearby mobs while it's active.
- The range and power are determined by the current power. Being further away from the crystal also mitigates the effect.
- The crystal will cause hallucinations to nearby mobs if they're not wearing meson scanners or equivalents.
- The crystal will irradiate nearby mobs. A radsuit or other protective clothing can negate this effect.
Anything that touches the crystal will be consumed and turned into dust. No exceptions. The only way to "safely" transport a shard is to pull it, being careful to not be pushed back into it by someone else.
If the crystal reaches 100% instability, it will delaminate. There are several different events that may happen when the crystal delaminates and they all depend on the state of the crystal during delamination.
- A crystal in a heavily pressurized gas environment with large amounts of moles (>12000 moles for normal SM, >14400 for shard) will always collapse into a singularity.
- A crystal that is overcharged above 5000 MeV the crystal will delaminate into a tesla ball.
- A crystal that is neither heavily overpressurized or overcharged will simply explode.
The direct turf (location/tile) of the supermatter is what dictates it's behaviour, and thus an integral part of any supermatter engine is sufficient cooling of the crystal's immediate environment. The cooling system used by the standard supermatter engine is a dynamic system; meaning that the gases around the supermatter flow to other parts of the engine in order to get cooled. This is why a single pipe being broken might cause catastrophic consequences. On our standard supermatter setup, there are two main factors of cooling: heat exchanger pipes (we will refer to this as heat exchanger under this subsection) and freezers. Note that both of these apparatus perform cooling only on the gas in it's immediate "container". A single freezer or heat exchanger pipe will be less effective on a larger pipe network than a smaller one due to it getting a smaller share of the gas that it is able to cool. Keep this in mind when doing expansion to the setup.
Heat Exchangers and Freezers
You might think that heat exchangers work on the basis of heat radiation, but this is not true. Heat exchangers actually work on the basis of conduction, that is between the heat exchanger and the turf it is in. For our supermatter heat exchangers, the heat sharing will be performed with an immutable (unchanging) space turf (with the temperature of 2.7 Kelvins and heat capacity of 7000 J/K.) or snow turf (with the temperature of 180 Kelvins and heat capacity that varies slightly). There are some limitations however, stopping the conduction process when the temperature difference is lower than 20 Kelvin/Celcius.
Freezers also work on the principle of heat exchanging: the heat from one end is "extracted" and moved into the other end (intended to be connected to the atmospherics waste loop). Freezers when fully upgraded work up to lower temperatures, but require proper management of the waste heat to function effectively. A freezer gets less effective if the temperature on the other end is too high, and to help fight this one might find it useful to cool the waste loop down or add buffer gases (preferably cooled) to the whatever network the waste is connected to, or even to add space radiatior pipes to them.
Our dynamic cooling system is contrasted with a static cooling system, where the gases around the crystal doesn't flow and simply get cooled passively. It is possible and even advisable to combine both dynamic and static cooling when running the crystal under heavier load, and this is commonly accomplished with cooled heat exchanger pipes directly interfacing with the crystal's turf. This however, require some significant time investment and protective gear. On smaller scale supermatter projects, a static cooling system alone might be able to keep the supermatter safe and sound. Be sure to experiment!
A Practical Guide to The Supermatter
So you wanted to skim the theory and jump right into the action? We got you covered. This is a step by step walkthrough to set your local supermatter crystal up. Beware however, there are many improvements that could be made!
Step one: Safety and Preliminary Preparations
- Put on an optical meson scanner (Engineering scanner goggles work too, if changed to meson mode) and a radiation suit in case someone prematurely activates the supermatter crystal.
- Why: Meson Scanners protect from hallucinations, while the suit protect from radiation. Once the engine starts, it will start emitting both.
- Insert your ID into your tablet and download the NT CIMS program if you haven't already. The NT CIMS provides critical information on the state of the crystal and all good engineers should have it installed and running.
Step two: Prepare the gas loop
- Color code: Red. Your first step should be wrenching the N2 canisters in place. Afterwards, turn the pump on and maximize it. (Hotkeys: ctrl-click to turn on, alt-click to maximize)
- Why: When the crystal is generating power it produces plasma and oxygen and heats up the air surrounding it immensely, thus it needs to be properly ventilated. We start by making the gas loop push N2 around the loop, cooling it with the coldness of space before re-entering the engine room again.
- Color code: Orange. Maximize the pumps leading to and out of the Supermatter chamber
- Why: A larger quantity of cooled gas inside the Supermatter will snuff out waste gas and heat better than one that isn't properly filled. This also makes the gas movement for the whole engine much quicker. (Be mindful of molar delaminations, though this is unlikely.)
- Color code: Blue. Turn the filter on, maximize it, and set it to filter nothing.
- Why: This filter is commonly used to collect useful gases from the Supermatter engine to be used elsewhere. We do not need this filter to be set to anything for stable power generation, though they are not mutually exclusive.
- Color code: Violet. Maximize the pumps leading to the space exchangers.
- Why: This makes the gas movement for the whole engine much quicker, allowing gas to be cooled and pumped in faster.
- Color code: White. Turn on all the filters and maximize them. Set the filter with the double circle to Nitrogen (they are set to Nitrogen by default, might be worth it to double check them.) All other filters can be set to nothing.
- Why: This filter complex dictates which gas will be let inside the Supermatter chamber. We are currently running a simple Nitrogen engine, so we need only the first filter to be set to nitrogen. The other three filters still need to be on and set to nothing in order for the bad gas to actually get vented, keep this in mind! If the first filter had been tampered with and the chamber is running out of nitrogen, repeat step one with Nitrogen canisters obtained from other parts of the station.
- Color code: Brown (where applicable). Turn on and maximize these freezer (or freezer bypass) pumps.
- Why: For meta and box derived Supermatter engines, the brown pumps are the last piece of pump separating the cooled gas from the chamber. In some maps (e.g. Ice Box) it is preferable to incorporate the freezers from roundstart due to freezers (73 Kelvins) being colder than space (180+20 Kelvins). For several maps where the space loop is colder (2.7+20 Kelvins), the bypass might be preferred until upgrades are available.
- Color code: Pink (where applicable). Turn on and minimze the temperature on these freezers.
- Why: For reasons stated above, this will mostly be used on supermatter engines with suboptimal space loops.
- Color code: Yellow. Proceed to the air alarm next to the crystal room. Open the air alarm menu (on most maps it will start unlocked), click Scrubber Controls and change the scrubbers to siphon (by clicking "scrubbing") and Expanded Range.
- Why: Siphon makes the scrubbers remove all gases. This is to ensure hot gasses are removed from the chamber as fast as possible, to prevent too high pressure in the chamber.
- Color code: Yellow. In the same air alarm , click Vent Controls and set the vents to internal 0. Do not change the vent option from Pressurizing. Picture (click it):
- Why: "Internal 0" makes the vents completely dump the contents of the coolant pipes into the chamber. You generally want to get the coolant in there as quickly as possible.
- Color code: Green. Turn the bypass pump off
- Why: This pump is used to bypass the chamber and to precool the gas before entering it. This pump however is a detriment to us on started Supermatter crystals, since it reduces the amount of cooled gas inserted into the chamber.
- Color code: Grey-blue (Where applicable). Turn the space valve on.
- Why: This valve separates the filtered waste gas from the space injector. Turn this on to prevent clogging. Only applicable in delta station.
- Color code: N/A. Review the crystal's status using the NT-CIMS program.
- Why: The NT CIMS provides great insight on troubleshooting supermatter related problems. If you did everything correctly, the temperature should be dropping, the gas composition will shift heavily towards pure nitrogen, and there should be enough moles inside the chamber (above 30).
With these all done, the nitrogen should be cycling through the system and getting nice and cool. Give yourself a pat on the back, for the hardest part is over!
Step three: Starting the radiation collectors
- Obtain six plasma tanks. One can be found by the radiation collectors, and up to ten more can be taken from the tank dispenser.
- Insert each plasma tank into a radiation collector , then turn each on by clicking it with an empty hand. Lock them with your ID card when you are done.
- It's worth pointing out that you also used to have to fill the plasma tanks with extra plasma from a canister. This is not currently the case, but many people still do this out of habit or misinformation.
The engine is now ready to produce power.
Step four: Start the engine!
- Double-check to ensure the cooling loop is active, you don't want to have an active supermatter with a pump still set to 101kPa or the vents/scrubbers inactive!
- For supermatter engines on Delta Station, you need to set everything yourself. Haul emitters and reflectors around to your desired setup, wrench and weld the emitters once aligned properly (rotate with Alt-Click), and weld the reflectors. Wire the plating under them and hook them up to a powered cable.
- Align the reflectors so that the emitter beams are deflected towards the supermatter crystal.
- Head into the emitter chamber. It is on the right side of the picture above. Just click each emitter with an empty hand to turn them on. Don't stand in front of them unless you want some serious laser burns!
- Close the radiation shutters with the Radiation Shutters Control button (if available).
The supermatter is now generating power.
If the emitters are not firing despite being turned on, it means they are not being sufficiently powered. This could either be because a cable to them have been severed (less likely), or the station does not have enough power to run them. To fix this, you could:
- Check the cable and ensure a proper connection is made between the power reservoir (SMES) and the emitters.
- Maximizing the SMES might solve some fringe cases of the station having enough power stored but not enough power flowing.
- Start the P.A.C.M.A.N generator to give the extra kick needed to start the emitters. Once the engine is supplying power, you can turn off the P.A.C.M.A.N.
- Throw a useless object into the supermatter crystal in order to kickstart the engine. A commonly used object for this is a 1 credit holochip, available to you by Alt-Clicking your ID.
Final step: Set up the power storage units (SMES)
- Go to the room in engineering with multiple SMES .
- Set each of their target inputs to 200 kW and target outputs to 190 kW.
- Why: This increases how much power they forward to the rest of the station. 10 kW will be used to keep the SMES fully charged for backup power.
Congratulations! The supermatter engine is set!
Beyond the safety
Here are some pointers and hints on how to get more power out of this engine:
- Coordinate with other engineers. Don't just silently adjust gases and pumps or you might end up causing accidents or decreasing efficiency.
- Higher temperatures generate more energy.
- Higher amounts of oxygen moles result in more power.
- You can pump gas from the atmos mixing loop directly into the engine by using the orange pipe.
- The supermatter crystal will glow in a distinct orange color if the gas composition and pressure levels in the chamber are ideal. This will reduce the impact of heat on the generation of power.
- Consider setting the first filter of the loop to plasma. The supermatter produces plasma, which can be collected and used to refill the radiation collectors if the round goes on for too long.
- The gas loop isn't that efficient at roundstart! Consider tuning it to run better by replacing some of the pumps with volume pumps or adding better cooling.
- Gasses leaving the SM go straight to the heat exchangers then to the filters, this means you cool all your gasses and then remove gasses. If you filter first you can get improved cooling (since you don't waste energy cooling unused gas) allowing for more dangerous gasses to be used easier.
- Plasma is terrible inside of the SM, potentially worse than Carbon Dioxide. Despite being terrible inside the chamber, you can use it on the outside as a coolant.
- Producing loads of power sounds great, but as soon as you go over 5000 MeV/cm³ anomalies will start forming rapidly and the SM will likely delaminate.
- You can place 2 heat exchange pipes on one tile as long as one is horizontal and one is vertical, double the cooling power!
Troubleshooting AKA Oh god it's on fire what do I do!?
The supermatter's in trouble! You should be able to locate where the issue is from the screenshot alone. Here's the answer.
First and foremost
TURN THE EMITTERS OFF OR ASK THE AI TO DO IT!
Inspect the gas loop to confirm it is intact and operational.
Check the meters to quickly ascertain where a problem may lie.
If any of the meters report an unusually high or low amount of gas, then you're close to finding the issue!
Common gas loop failures include:
- Gas pumps offline.
- Gas pumps left on default pressure. (Crank them up to 4500kpa!)
- Gas filters offline. Remember! Filters do not allow ANY gas to pass through if they're turned off! If you don't wish to filter anything, leave them online but set to filter nothing
- Gas filters left on default pressure.
- Gas filters no longer set to filter coolant back into the loop. Just set filters back to filter in the coolant and add more coolant to the loop (Most of the coolant is likely injected into space by this point.)
- Supermatter chamber vents improperly configured.
- Supermatter chamber scrubbers not siphoning.
- Heat exchange pipes broken. Space dust can slip through the defenses on occasion. Or a traitor may detach a section.
- Too much gas! If a section has too high of a pressure, the gas pumps cannot push anything more into it!
- Too little gas! The more (cold) gas there is, the faster the gas will be able to siphon heat away from the crystal. A supermatter crystal in near-vacuum is just looking for an excuse to overheat.
If the gas temperature is too high to stabilize with the cooling loop alone - hope that Atmos has a canister of precooled N2 or even Hyper-Noblium around.
If the supermatter is delaminating and the gas loop is operational, use an analyzer to check for problem gases in the loop. Someone may have slipped in some carbon dioxide. Double-check the filters to see if they're getting rid of unwanted gases.
If all else failed, pray that an Atmosian elder investigates and finds the problem before it's too late. If you aren't in a locker when the crystal explodes, you will get a huge mood debuff.
Sabotaging the supermatter
Want to sabotage the crystal but can't figure out how to pull it off? Here are some pointers and hints:
- You can break the APC of the room to stop all pipes and scrubbers from working.
- When the crystal reaches 0% integrity a 30 second countdown until the explosion will be broadcast on common channel, even if telecomms is desintegrated.
- Disable the telecomms APC with the CE console to prevent the supermatter from announcing its status.
- Cut cameras near the engine.
- Instead of turning off pumps and filters, you can just set them to extremely low values instead. They'll still appear to be working.
- Taking out all the engineers before attempting a delamination helps a lot.
- Opening a canister of plasma in engineering and igniting it will make it a lot harder for people to fix your sabotage. Even more effective if the radiation levels are high.
- Keep a flash or EMP on hand. The AI and its borgs are pretty much guaranteed to try and intervene to prevent harm.
- Stay around and pretend to be helping so you can undo all the repair attempts by other people.
- Or ignore everything above and just empty a magazine into the crystal making it near instantly start the 30 second delamination countdown, before anyone can stop you, or even notice, this applies even if you want to do the more spicy delaminations listed below, since the crystal doesn't have to delaminate from high power or high pressure, it just has to be in the state needed when exploding and can delaminate from bullets.
These are the easiest to pull off and require no special conditions. You'll want to keep the supermatter chamber very hot and full of plasma or CO2.
- Use the filters near the emitter room to filter out N2 and N2O while keeping Plasma, Oxygen and CO2 in the loop.
- Pump in pure plasma or burn mix from atmos.
- Disable or break the cooling array. Deconstructing a single piece of the heat exchanger can be enough.
- Shooting guns at the crystal is extremely effective,
but it's likely that you'll end up in the blastyou won't, you'll have 30 seconds to run after the crystal reaches 0% integrity.
- Disable the scrubbers once the chamber is hot enough.
This kind of delamination requires careful gas management but is faster, far more destructive and there's a good chance it will irradiate, burn and shock the engineers who are trying to fix it.
- Ensure that only CO2 is in the supermatter chamber at all times. Filter all other gases and keep the scrubbers running.
- Keep the emitters online and firing if you can.
- Get as much CO2 into the chamber as possible. Larger amounts of CO2 can even compensate for the oxygen and plasma waste.
- Wear as much radiation protection as you can. Consider bringing some anti-toxin medication as well.
- Try to keep radiation suits away from engineers, they won't be able to get near the overcharged engine without one.
- Make sure you are wearing insulated gloves to protect yourself from the lightning arcs.
- Disabling the cooling is not required. In fact, keeping the chamber cool might help you get more power.
- The anomalies, gravity pulses and lightning arcs will quickly turn the engine room into a deathtrap. Make sure you have everything set up correctly before this starts happening.
Critical mass delamination
This is difficult but also simple.
- Pump in as much gas as possible into the chamber. The easiest way to do this is to disable the pressure checks on the vent air alarms.
- Reverse the scrubber pump. It's a subtle alteration that might get overlooked in the heat of the moment and will prevent the excess gas from being pumped out.
- Make sure no gas leaves the chamber. Put up walls, deconstruct scrubber pipes, do whatever possible to keep the gas inside.
Cold gas, a glowy crystal, some lasers, and you: A deeper dive into the Supermatter Engine
This is very rambly, but useful information will be given throughout. It's recommended to read it all, as it covers critical aspects of atmospherics functionality and, thus, the Supermatter. But ff you just want the conclusion on a whole lot of theory, skim read the bulk of it but pay attention at the end.
The basics of gas. Rule 0 of atmospherics and the Supermatter
First things first, and extremely importantly: gas does not work like you think it does.
A common, and reasonable, misconception is that gas flows. In atmospherics, gas does not move from one pipe to another. Instead, gas “Exists omnipresently within a pipenetwork”. What this means is that gas within a pipenetwork (commonly referred to as just a pipenet) exists in perfect equilibrium of both gas and temperature. If you have a pipenetwork from one end of the universe to the other, and added let’s say 1 mole of oxygen, then there would immediately be gas at the other end of the universe. Every single pipe would have the exact same gas, at the exact same pressure, at the exact same temperature. Say we then add some N2O, then the exact same thing would happen. The gas, mixed perfectly with the oxygen, across every single pipe.
Now it’s important to clarify what exactly a pipenetwork is. A pipenetwork is any connection of pipes wherein a pipe can be traced to another pipe via at least 1 pipe. So it doesn’t matter how many pumps you have between your pipes if even 1 length of pipes can be traced around those pumps. At which point, it’s part of the same pipenetwork, and the pump is irrelevant.
This might sound a little weird. To clarify, don’t think of pipes like a method of transport. Nothing travels through pipes. Think of pipes like a container for gas.
For this, I like to use the basin analogy. Imagine you have 3 things: A basin or bucket or something similar, a cup, and some liquid. The pipes are the basin, the cups are the pumps, and the liquid is the gas. If you add something into the basin, it doesn’t travel in a direction towards the next area, it simply enters equilibrium with the rest of the contents (please ignore brownian motion for this analogy. If you don’t know what this is, good, it’s not helpful here). If you want to move something from one basin to another, you dip a cup in and pour it into the next basin. That’s how pumps work. They, like the cup, move the contents from one container to another in bulk loads.
Call back to what I said about pipenetworks and pumps a moment ago. Having a pump inside of a pipenetwork is like using your cup to take out of the basin and pour back into it. It accomplishes nothing, because the contents aren’t changing.
So with this in mind, how does clogging occur?
A horror story of pumps and hot gas
Pipes do not clog, period. Filters clog, pumps clog, scrubbers clog, vents can clog (depending on settings). But pipes, however, do not. There is no upper limit on the pressure of pipes. A pipe, in theory, can store infinite pressure and, thus, infinite gas.
However, there is an upper limit on what pressure pumps, filters, and scrubbers can get into pipes. This may sound similar, but it has large consequences.
For example, a pressure pump has a maximum pressure of 4,500 kPa. That means that every time it pumps gas, it can move up to but no more than 4,500 kPa of that gas. It also means that if the pressure of the pipenetwork it’s pumping into is equal to or greater than that value, it will be unable to move the gas. This is referred to as a pump becoming backed up or clogged.
To the right you'll find an image used earlier in this guide, but it is updated to show the separate pipenetworks the roundstart Supermatter has on Box station. Each of these pipenetworks is separate, but are in perfect equilibrium within themselves. So if you checked the gas in the green pipenetwork, it doesn’t matter where you checked, it would display the same. Likewise, the blue pipenet may be different than the green pipenet. But everywhere in the blue pipenetwork you check would, again, be identical to anywhere else in the blue pipenetwork.
But dear Mr. Guide Writer, why does this matter, at all? Why show me just how many pipenetworks exist in the round start setup, what does it matter? Two reasons.
- Pumps, filters, and mixers do not efficiently pump connected pipenetworks at all.
- Gas. as mentioned earlier, is always evenly spread through a pipenetwork and without direction to it. (“Gas exists omnipresently within a pipenetwork”)
Let's start with the first thing, pumps. All types of pumps (not filters and mixers and the like) have 200L volume in the small bit of pipe before them, and 200L in the small bit of pipe after them. As such, a volume pump pumps all the gas that is in that node to the other side of the pump, per second (the maximum pump rate for volume pumps is 200L/s). As such, if a pipe network has 2000L of volume, connected to a volume pump that is pumping at its max rate, it will pump 1/10th of all gas in the network, per second. However, you also have to take into account that it's always 1/10th of the gas that is in the pipes, as such, pumps will pump less moles of gas per second as there is less and less gas in the network before the pump.
Put simply, pumps exist to restrict and direct gas by their very nature. If you need to move gas from one place to another quickly, adding a pump will only slow it down. Starting to see where this is going? Well, there’s another reason pumps are bad, and it ties back in to the previous section.
Pumps have an upper-pressure limit, same for filters and mixers. For the gas pump, and the others, the pressure limit is plain to see, 4500 kPa. However, the volume pump also has a pressure limit, rated at 9000 kPa. Scrubbers in fact also have a pressure limit, sitting around 5200 kPa.
Gas pumps and mixers are especially poor, as their pumping slows down the closer they get to their pressure limit.
What does this mean for the Supermatter, especially in case of delamination? Well, the room is probably on fire, so the gas has expanded, which in turn makes it far more pressurized. The knock-on effect? Follow along with the image to the right. We’re starting at the left side of the central Supermatter chamber. The yellow pipenet before the red.
- Yellow: First, the scrubbers work their butt off to get to their pressure limit. The gas is hot, so that doesn't take very much.
- Red: While this happens, a gas pump takes the tiny amount of moles in the pipenetwork the scrubbers are connected to and shoves a small amount of it into the pipenetwork beyond it. Slowing down even further, as the gas is so hot it easily reaches the pressure limit.
- Blue: This then reaches the filter, which again tries to pump the small amount of moles beyond it, with another case of pressure limit slowness and the fact, not all gas is available for pumping at any moment.
Repeat the above for all the following pumps. Add to this the fact that the Supermatter produces plasma and oxygen, which are reacting with each other and burning in the pipes, likely pushing the pressure above the limits of what the pumps can handle and... well you got the point right? That’s what happening to your pumps every single time the Supermatter ignites.
Well, that all sounded horrid, how can we prevent this?
How removing pumps made me a billionaire
The title gives it away, really. You want to replace most pumps you can find with either straight pipes, or with valves to allow for easier modification and changing where the gas goes on the fly. (You can always do this in the start of the round, before the engi SMESes discharge and you lose power) ESPECIALLY THE FILTER NEEDS TO EITHER BE REMOVED OR UTILISED PROPERLY IN THE CASE OF A DELAMINATION OR WHEN OPTIMISING.
Now, to explain why this is the proper option in most cases. As mentioned continuously, gas in a network is always evenly spread through all connected pipe. it's always the same ratio of gasses, it's always the same temperature. It’s always in perfect equilibrium in every sense of the word.
If you’ve been following along, then you likely know what this means. By replacing all the pumps up to the space loop with pipes, clogging is no longer an issue. The gas will leave the supermatter and immediately be cooled by space. No delay, no travelling, because the pipe connected to the scrubber holds the exact same amount, temperature, etc as any of the pipes in the space loop (marked as Green)
But, why stop there? You already know that gas doesn’t travel inside of pipenetworks, so these other two pumps (Blue to Red | Green to Red) aren’t actually assisting in cooling after all* (There will be a small note at the end of this section) so why not simply replace them with pipes? Well, that has an added bonus. In a standard setup, or any setup which stops gas flowing from Blue to Red, the only connection between the gas return filters (Green circled filters at the bottom) is the heat exchange pipes in the space loop. If somewhere were to cut one, then the gas could no longer reach the return filters. Eventually the supermatter would run out of coolant, and a delam would begin.
But, say those pumps were both turned into pipes. Well, then cutting a single pipe in the space loop would do next to nothing. We’d lose the gas from that one cut pipe, but the rest of the piping is still connected, and the engine continues safely. You won’t even notice the change.
“Wait!” you may be thinking, “the pipes will leak!”
Thankfully, that makes far too much sense for atmospherics. Pipes don’t leak. At all. Now, the gas that was within that specific pipe will be expelled into the air, yes. But the gas from other pipes can and will not exit out of the newly made ‘opening’, if you can call it that.
So that’s two very nice bonuses. Gas is immediately cooled, and the supermatter is harder to tamper with. It’d would be fine if that was all these changes gave us. There’s one more nice bonus, though.
The volume of the pipenetwork is increased massively. Pumps, as we’ve discussed, have a pressure limit. The greater the number of pipes in front of a pump, the greater the volume that the pump perceives, and the more gas it can put in. Put simply, if you have a single pipe of 4,500 kPa, a pressure pump cannot continue pumping. Add another pipe, and suddenly it’s 2,250 kPa each, and the pressure pump will continue until both pipes are 4,500 kPa. Every time a pipe is added, the ‘capacity’ increases. By replacing all these pumps with pipes you have changed a number of pipenetworks of only 10-20 each to a full pipenetwork of 50+. Suddenly the scrubbers don’t have to worry about pressure as much, especially on top of the instant cooling.
Lastly, though only vaguely related, keep your vents on internal 0, not on external 5000. Vents do not actually have a pressure limit at all. They can continue to add pressure constantly, however, they do work faster if the chamber they are connected to is lower pressure, and the gas they're pumping is cold, but this is always true. Essentially, vents pump a static amount of pressure when they're at maximum speed. If nothing very, very strange is happening, the gas that the vents are attempting to pump in is colder than what is in the chamber, as it already went through the cooling part of the pipes. As such, having the vents on internal 0, and with it, always pumping the hardest they can, they are adding gas that is colder than what is currently in the chamber itself. This contributes to the cooling down of the chamber, and is often enough to prevent a heat delamination by itself.
External 5000 suffers from the same issues as a pump does, vents will completely stop pumping in gas when the room it is trying to pump into is 5000 kPa or above, which happens fairly quickly in a small room that is white hot. So remember, internal 0, unless there is too much gas in the room (see singularity delamination).
* The small note at the end of the section: You can consider placing restrictive pumps in certain areas so hot gas can't travel through quickly and give it more time to cool, though there are often better ways to do this that are less dangerous. Still, the option is there.
A final word
If you somehow read through all that, I very strongly applaud you, and I applaud you on likely becoming an engineer that is a few times less clueless. Despite all the things you now may know, there is a lot to experiment with, and lots of ways left to mess up in spectacular ways. Try to keep learning more and more as you go, and good luck in your attempts to not blow up the station.