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Old 12-02-2014, 05:48 PM   #1
Sindri
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Default TL 4 Lava Use

Lava* is cool. Low tech use of lava in forges and stuff is a common concept in fantasy. People have historically used lava produced materials like obsidian and profited from geothermal energy. Modern people have even cooked meat on lava. What could a TL 4 society realistically accomplish with lava? Of course lava isn't an identical substance so uses may vary based on it's composition.

*Or magma
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Old 12-02-2014, 06:07 PM   #2
malloyd
 
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Default Re: TL 4 Lava Use

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sindri View Post
Lava* is cool. Low tech use of lava in forges and stuff is a common concept in fantasy. People have historically used lava produced materials like obsidian and profited from geothermal energy. Modern people have even cooked meat on lava. What could a TL 4 society realistically accomplish with lava?
Nothing really. Most lava is cooler than a typical medieval forge, glassblowing pot or pottery kiln. At the bottom end, it's actually cooler than a wood fire, and almost none of it exceeds the 1200 C minimum for crucible steels or blast furnaces (most of which actually get several hundred C hotter than lava ever does). If you can make glass, you can remelt most igneous rocks.
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Old 12-02-2014, 06:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: TL 4 Lava Use

Rock has very little capacity to hold thermal energy, so it will rapidly cool and solidify once it's removed from the heat source. Often a matter of mere seconds for man portable masses.

I saw a video of a lava "sculptor" that pulled out head+ sized amounts, and had to work ridiculously quickly before it "froze".
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Old 12-02-2014, 06:17 PM   #4
Anthony
 
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Default Re: TL 4 Lava Use

If you have a source of lava, it's a geothermal heat source, and can be used in much the same way as any other geothermal heat source, which at TL 4 mostly means hot springs.
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Old 12-02-2014, 06:33 PM   #5
Sindri
 
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Default Re: TL 4 Lava Use

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
Nothing really. Most lava is cooler than a typical medieval forge, glassblowing pot or pottery kiln. At the bottom end, it's actually cooler than a wood fire, and almost none of it exceeds the 1200 C minimum for crucible steels or blast furnaces (most of which actually get several hundred C hotter than lava ever does). If you can make glass, you can remelt most igneous rocks.
It is however a source of heat that doesn't require collecting a bunch of wood or charcoal or coal which could have advantages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Rock has very little capacity to hold thermal energy, so it will rapidly cool and solidify once it's removed from the heat source. Often a matter of mere seconds for man portable masses.

I saw a video of a lava "sculptor" that pulled out head+ sized amounts, and had to work ridiculously quickly before it "froze".
For some things that's good. Obsidian forms because of rapid cooling.

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
If you have a source of lava, it's a geothermal heat source, and can be used in much the same way as any other geothermal heat source, which at TL 4 mostly means hot springs.
Could you usefully heat places using plumbing to transport the water from hot springs?
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Old 12-02-2014, 07:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: TL 4 Lava Use

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Could you usefully heat places using plumbing to transport the water from hot springs?
Over short distances, sure.
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Old 12-02-2014, 09:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: TL 4 Lava Use

Of course lava may have elementals associated with it and provide alternate benfits that way.
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Old 12-02-2014, 10:20 PM   #8
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Default Re: TL 4 Lava Use

Places with lava tend to have many items interesting to alchemists.

I can think of advantages relating to steam power, but that's not TL4, and is essentially a geothermal adaptation.

Might be a good place to put filth, as you're already dealing with noxious fumes from the area. Waste disposal is a problem at TL4.

There are defensive applications, but they require extraordinary engineering. Then again...you're talking about a place living near a lava vent, so probably not an issue.

With the ability to maintain steady high heat, you might be able to do some year round farming or tropical greenhouses.
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