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Modifying ION Engines to Only use Electricity?


Ancient Attero
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I've been looking into renewable fuels in order to make deep space journeys both possible and easy. Without the needs for Fueling Depots and hours spent getting them in orbit.

So I've been playing around with the ION Engines - Found here: http://kerbalspaceprogram.com/0-18-ion-engine-pack/

And after realizing that Xenon Fuel is used up faster than a single booster rocket, i wanted to see if I could modify it's propellents to only use electricity. Unfortunately removing Xenon Gas for the part.cfg file did not work. On testing the engines lit up for a second then shut off.

So is there a way I can modify the part.cfg to only use electricity? Or is there a engine out there capable of space flight that I can use instead?

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I'm not sure whether the game engine will allow you to break the laws of physics.

Essentially, what you're looking for is a reactionless drive (a.k.a. a "space drive"). I've heard of some theoretical work being done on space drives (for example, the work of Dr. Marc Millis) but nothing near practical application. Others more savvy with the game engine would have to speak up, but I think you might have to modify the engine itself to allow such drives in the game.

The only other alternative I can think of would be a solar or magnetic sail, but again, I'm not sure if the game engine would allow for it as things stand.

Those are my thoughts on the problem; all errors remain my own.

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Removing xenon would technically make your ion drive no longer an ion drive as you're not actually shooting off ionized particles to make thrust. Perhaps what you would need is some sort of solar sail? I'm not sure if such mods exist, but it could be worth a look..

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Wouldn't this increase the weight? Making it damn near impossible to lift off the ground?

I don't assume the game automatically increases component weight? So you could technically have a part that weighs 0.01 tons and contains a million units of xenon gas.

Removing xenon would technically make your ion drive no longer an ion drive as you're not actually shooting off ionized particles to make thrust. Perhaps what you would need is some sort of solar sail? I'm not sure if such mods exist, but it could be worth a look..

You're talking about the theoretical photon drive, which would produce 1 Newton of thrust for the modest investment of 300 megawatts. :D

Edited by Shadow86
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I don't assume the game automatically increases component weight? So you could technically have a part that weighs 0.01 tons and contains a million units of xenon gas.

Yeah, the game does actually weigh the fuel in the tanks, it's not arbitrarily done for each part by setting dry/full mass. The various fuels all have densities defined in the game.

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you could also modify the cfg file so that instead of an absurd amount of xenon in the tank, you could give the ion engine an absurdly high isp

Searching for an engine with astronomical ISP (and still very much scientifically possible)? Look no further. Behold: http://kerbalspaceprogram.com/sm-fission-fragment-rocket/

This engine got Bill in his trusty Sparrow Explorer to the Dres, then into Jool system and finally into Bop orbit with 90% of fuel still in the tank. Couple caveats thought: ISP is insanely high, but thrust is very much on the wimpy side. Not as bad as ion engine's, but still you are looking for a 5-7 minute burns on a ship weighting about 15 tons. There is afterburner, but it uses xenon too and heats like my old laptop trying to push 300+ part rocket into orbit. And if its overheat...BOOM! You have no engine. Also it's heavy, long and tends to wobble a bit if not carefully strutted. But still, i love this engine to death :cool:

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this is not completely true, it already has been done. Magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters (MPD) uses the Lorentz force (a force resulting from the interaction between a magnetic field and an electric current) to generate thrust - The electric charge flowing through the plasma in the presence of a magnetic field causing the plasma to accelerate due to the generated magnetic force.

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You could always go into the ion engine part config file and delete


PROPELLANT
{
name = XenonGas
Ratio = 0.1
}

If you read the OP's post, you would have seen that he tried it, and it didn't work.

And here's why:

An engine must consume a resource that has mass. Electric charge has no mass. By removing xenon gas, you have a situation where no mass is being consumed, and therefore no thrust is being generated by the engine. You literally cannot break the laws of physics here. KSP does not support reaction less drives in its code.

As a workaround you can jury-rig a module setup in the config where an engine creates its own propellant as a generator at the same rate that it uses it as an engine (think of it like merging a turbojet and an air intake into a single part). It's a clumsy hack, but it works... still, if you're in the market for a complete fantasy drive, just give it something like 500,000 Isp and call it a day. You won't see any noticable fuel use from that no matter how much thrust.

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I thought you could not have a single resource engine because KSP was programmed to have two inputs minimum, that's why you can't have a LV-N run on liquid fuel alone.

Okay you can shut up now guys.

Mass in a computer game is just a number anyway ;)

I wonder if you can have an engine consume two of the same resource?

Edited by sal_vager
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I thought you could not have a single resource engine because KSP was programmed to have two inputs minimum, that's why you can't have a LV-N run on liquid fuel alone.

Okay you can shut up now guys.

Mass in a computer game is just a number anyway ;)

I wonder if you can have an engine consume two of the same resource?

That can't be true, SRBs use only one resource.

Edited by sal_vager
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I thought you could not have a single resource engine because KSP was programmed to have two inputs minimum, that's why you can't have a LV-N run on liquid fuel alone.

Okay you can shut up now guys.

Mass in a computer game is just a number anyway ;)

I wonder if you can have an engine consume two of the same resource?

Pretty sure SRB use solid only. Also Near Future Propulsion has a patch that removes the need for oxidizer and use only liquid hydrogen.

Edited by sal_vager
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I believe the interstellar mod has something like a 'solar sail' in it where you can beam power. IIRC Scotty Manley used it in his interstellar series on youtube. It's a little less cheat-y than modifying game cfg files, although it is using technology that, as of now, doesn't exist (neither does what you're trying to do, so I assume that's not a problem for you). I like that solution because it still requires you to do a little work to use it, such as setting up a large satellite around Kerbol to harvest it's energy and beam it out to your ships that require it.

I could be completely mistaken though, it's been a while since I watched that series, and I don't use the interstellar mod myself. It could be he was still using Xenon gas and the beamed power just for the power requirements. I'll have to go back and find that video.

EDIT: After re-reading up on the interstellar mod, the beamed power is mainly useful for its plasma engines, which can use several different types of fuels very efficiently. Still, might be a possible solution for you if modifying .cfg files doesn't work for you.

Edited by pearldrumbum
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That can't be true, SRBs use only one resource.
Yeah you're right, I guess the mass thing is hard coded then.
Pretty sure SRB use solid only. Also Near Future Propulsion has a patch that removes the need for oxidizer and use only liquid hydrogen.

And the O 10 Mono-propellant Engine?

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