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Old 12-31-2017, 07:07 PM   #21
gruundehn
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
The thing to remember about a Smithian accumulator is that it isn't a capacitor or a battery. It's a totally different technology, probably based on physics we don't understand, like a lot of the rest of their tech.

An accumulator is defined not by how it works, but by what it does, i.e. store large amounts of energy with the ability to release it very fast. How it does it matters less than what it does.

How much energy does a Smithian accumulator store? He never gives hard figures, but lower bounds can be estimated by observing what the technology does. The answer is 'a freakin' lot'. They can power hand weaponry with more than enough juice to vaporize large masses like humans, or sections of walls. (It takes far more energy to vaporize a human than it does to kill one.)

The shipboard accumulators can store significant amounts of energy relative to their total-conversion based power plants.

Remember the old Star Trek TOS trope of the phase pistol set to turn into a bomb? There were a couple of incidents where it was shown that this could be done, and Kirk says at one point (paraphrasing) that such a pistol bomb could have blown the side of the ship out if they hadn't stopped it.

That's completely realistic, given the displayed performance of the phaser pistols (rapid vaporization of large masses, etc.). That much energy packed into a small space will make a dandy bomb if it gets released instantly.

The Smithian accumulators have similar storage densities, or higher.
You are not making your case that accumulators are neither capacitors not batteries. Capacitors are active storage devices and batteries are passive ones. Unless accumulators store energy in some fashion that is neither active nor passive, they are one or the other.
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Old 12-31-2017, 07:53 PM   #22
Ulzgoroth
 
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

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Originally Posted by gruundehn View Post
You are not making your case that accumulators are neither capacitors not batteries. Capacitors are active storage devices and batteries are passive ones. Unless accumulators store energy in some fashion that is neither active nor passive, they are one or the other.
A superconducting induction ring is neither a capacitor nor a battery, but it stores energy.
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Old 12-31-2017, 09:17 PM   #23
Johnny1A.2
 
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

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Originally Posted by gruundehn View Post
You are not making your case that accumulators are neither capacitors not batteries. Capacitors are active storage devices and batteries are passive ones. Unless accumulators store energy in some fashion that is neither active nor passive, they are one or the other.
I should perhaps have said that they were neither capacitors nor batteries as we know those. You could call them batteries because they can store energy for long periods safely or capacitors for their ability to deliver that power fast, but they overlap the performance of both current technologies.

A Smithian accumulator could be called either a battery or an accumulator in sort of the same sense that an automobile could be called either a horseless carriage or a mechanical horse.
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Old 01-01-2018, 12:46 PM   #24
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
A superconducting induction ring is neither a capacitor nor a battery, but it stores energy.
I am not familiar with that technology. Does the device have to be part of a circuit or can it be left by itself? If it has to be part of a circuit, it is a capacitor. If it can be removed from the charging circuit and stored, it is a battery.

The function does not change even when the technology does.
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Old 01-01-2018, 01:09 PM   #25
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

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Originally Posted by gruundehn View Post
I am not familiar with that technology. Does the device have to be part of a circuit or can it be left by itself? If it has to be part of a circuit, it is a capacitor. If it can be removed from the charging circuit and stored, it is a battery.

The function does not change even when the technology does.
'Battery' and 'capacitor' are not as abstract terms as you seem to want them to be.

Also, a capacitor can be removed from the charging circuit and stored. They do tend to lose their charge over time, though that might be more a feature of modern tiny ones than bulkier types like leyden jars. But then some electrochemical batteries also break down in storage...
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Old 01-01-2018, 01:28 PM   #26
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

I don't understand the passive / active distinction. A capacitor stores energy in an electric field. A battery stores electrical energy as chemical energy. If anything, the battery seems the more "active" of the two in that more has to happen to get electricity back out. But they both have to change something about their state.

"Accumulator" is a general term for something that stores energy; by that definition, both batteries and capacitors are types of (electrical) accumulator. I've also seen that term used for non-electrical energy storage, as in hydraulic systems, so it seems the broadest of the three, and thus appropriate enough either for purposes of the OP or of Doc Smith.

Last edited by Anaraxes; 01-01-2018 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 01-01-2018, 03:28 PM   #27
gruundehn
 
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
'Battery' and 'capacitor' are not as abstract terms as you seem to want them to be.

Also, a capacitor can be removed from the charging circuit and stored. They do tend to lose their charge over time, though that might be more a feature of modern tiny ones than bulkier types like leyden jars. But then some electrochemical batteries also break down in storage...
I am not using the terms in any abstract sense but in a technical sense. A capacitor must be kept charged actively in that current must always be supplied in order for the charge to stay. A battery does not need constant recharging. Yes, there are capacitors that can store a charge outside of a circuit but not generally, old style Leiden jars hold a charge, for example, but not over a long period of time. Hours, or maybe days rather than years or even decades.

There are other differences between the two types of electrical storage but the need to recharge over a short period rather than a long period is the one I started with and stay with.
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Old 01-01-2018, 03:35 PM   #28
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
I don't understand the passive / active distinction. A capacitor stores energy in an electric field. A battery stores electrical energy as chemical energy. If anything, the battery seems the more "active" of the two in that more has to happen to get electricity back out. But they both have to change something about their state.

"Accumulator" is a general term for something that stores energy; by that definition, both batteries and capacitors are types of (electrical) accumulator. I've also seen that term used for non-electrical energy storage, as in hydraulic systems, so it seems the broadest of the three, and thus appropriate enough either for purposes of the OP or of Doc Smith.
A capacitor stores electrical energy on a physical surface and a battery stores electrical charge (sort of) in a chemical solution. I say sort of because a battery does not store electrical energy but chemical energy which due to chemical action, releases electrical energy.

When my father got his electrical engineering degree, accumulator was the technical term for what is now known as a capacitor. The term has broadened its meaning over the years. I grew up with that narrower usage and that may affect my thinking even though I spent decades as an electronics technician where the term capacitor was used exclusively.
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Old 01-01-2018, 03:39 PM   #29
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

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Originally Posted by gruundehn View Post
I am not using the terms in any abstract sense but in a technical sense. A capacitor must be kept charged actively in that current must always be supplied in order for the charge to stay. A battery does not need constant recharging. Yes, there are capacitors that can store a charge outside of a circuit but not generally, old style Leiden jars hold a charge, for example, but not over a long period of time. Hours, or maybe days rather than years or even decades.

There are other differences between the two types of electrical storage but the need to recharge over a short period rather than a long period is the one I started with and stay with.
There may be some technical field where that is the formal usage, but I have never seen it before.

...And what batteries are you expecting to retain EMF for decades?

Capacitors have rather important technical features other than holding charge but being prone to bleed. I think most places where a capacitor is used, substituting a battery would make the circuit non-functional...
Quote:
Originally Posted by gruundehn View Post
A capacitor stores electrical energy on a physical surface and a battery stores electrical charge (sort of) in a chemical solution. I say sort of because a battery does not store electrical energy but chemical energy which due to chemical action, releases electrical energy.
This, on the other hand, suggests a definition of capacitor (and battery) which (A) aligns with every definition I've ever seen anywhere and (B) makes nonsense of your assertion in post #24. Batteries and capacitors are (or can be used as) energy storage technologies, but not all energy storage technologies need to be characterized as either battery or capacitor.

The aforementioned superconducting induction ring stores energy in a current and induced magnetic field the same way a conventional inductor does, but because it's superconducting it doesn't rapidly lose the stored energy to resistance in the conducting element.
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Old 01-01-2018, 07:32 PM   #30
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

I was originally thinking of space opera, in particular, Lensman style accumulators, that store energy for use in a battle, or anything else, as dramatically necessary. It seems that, if I want the "accumulators" to do both, it would need to include both batteries for long term storage, and capacitors for firing the weapons, after charging them from the batteries.

Goal is to have extra energy for whatever needs it, without extra reactors, be it for firing a weapon, entering hyperspace when hyperspace needs 5 power points and a reactor has one, but only need those 5 power points for a moment...

Medium hard science fiction to Space Opera--and I learned a lot here.

I know that model railroad locomotives use a capacitor on some fancier DCC (Digital Command Control--fancy electronic comtrol for model trains) to keep it going over short sections of dead track. Beyond that, I didn't really know much about capacitors or batteries.
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