Guide to Setting Up the Supermatter
The supermatter engine, located in the aftmost part of Engineering, is the main source of power for the station; while it is theoretically possible to run the station off of solar power, the setup time is too slow for most normal-sized crews and the station almost inevitably draws its power from the engine.
The supermatter engine is extremely dangerous; when deliberately tampered with or poorly set up, it can easily blow a substantial hole in Engineering and leave the station all but powerless in the aftermath.
- 1 Safety First
- 2 The Engine Room
- 3 Principles of Operation
- 4 Procedures and Setup
- 5 Optimization and Maintenance
- 6 Engine Emergencies
There are a few important safety principles to remember when working with the engine:
- The supermatter is extremely dangerous. You can pull it, but any other attempt to touch or grab it, or bumping into it, or trying to use an item on it (you get the idea) will result in you turning into a pile of ash.
- If it is absolutely essential to interact with the supermatter, you might want to ask Medical to make a genetic backup of you beforehand in case something goes wrong.
- The radiation from the supermatter is also dangerous. Inactive core does not irradiate - so it is possible (but not recommended) to work without a suit until you fire the emitter. You should wear a radiation suit, with a hood, at all times when working in the active engine.
- Suits are available in the engine entrance, and in the Engine Monitoring room.
- Engineering hardsuits/voidsuits will not protect you from radiation. They provide some protection, enough to keep you out of immediate danger if you need to work with the engine while it is not atmospherically stable, but you should always wear a radiation suit if possible.
- The Chief Engineer's RIGsuit, however, will provide full radiation protection while it is fully on.
- The supermatter, even inactive, can also cause hallucinations, even with a hood. You should always wear meson goggles when working in the engine room.
- Meson goggles are available in the same lockers as the radiation suits, though you should probably be wearing your own pair from your locker anyway.
- The laser from the emitter can be deadly. Don't walk in front of the emitter while it is on. In fact, just to be safe, don't walk in front of it ever. Period.
The Engine Room
Principles of Operation
If you are new to the engine and the only engineer on shift, skip ahead to the start of the "Procedures" section for a quick guide on how to get the engine running, and come back to this later.
The engine uses a Thermoelectric Generator - TEG for short. The top side is heated through gas pumped through the supermatter chamber, while the bottom side is cooled using the radiators.
In its base state, the supermatter does not produce any heat, but when it is activated by the emitter which is in the engine room for this purpose, the core begins to heat up. For this reason, in order to produce heat and therefore power, the supermatter must be activated using the emitter; this is referred to as "starting" the engine.
Activating the supermatter causes it to produce not only head and radiation, but also oxygen, and phoron. The gas from the engine is drained using an "Engine Room Vent Pump #1" on the bottom end of the supermatter chamber. It passes through yellow pipes where it enters the TEGs, cools down, and to the blue pipes. Blue pipes have two omni gas filters attached to them. These filters are, by default, set to filter everything but nitrogen out into the black waste pipes, then inject the cooler, cleaned nitrogen back into the core chamber. These filters are turned off at the start and need to be turned on. Oxygen overcharges the supermatter; phoron is not dangerous on its own but is inflammable.
Once power is generated by the TEGs, it flows through the yellow power cables which run from the TEGs themselves to the aftmost doorway in the engine room. Two SMESs draw power from this direct output circuit; the engine room SMES (closest to the engine room) and the main power grid SMES. The engine room SMES powers all of the equipment in the engine room via the Engine Room APC; the main grid SMES provides power to the rest of the station.
The engine room SMES needs around 70-100kW. The main grid SMES output will depend on the station's power draw. You cannot maximize the input of the main grid SMES if the engine is not producing more power than said maximum, or else the engine room SMES will NOT CHARGE, and slowly lose power. This will lead to the equipment shutting down and the engine delaminating.
Engine Waste Handling
The Engine Waste Handling room cools and stores the byproducts filtered from the engine coolant. The black pipes at the very top left are the intercooler loop; they run out into space, and the gas within them is cooled by radiating heat out into space. The byproducts never enter the intercooler loop; it must be filled with coolant (usually the CO2 canister found in the engine room, but any gas works) to work.
The black pipes on the right contain the engine waste.
The weird grey things within the hazard-marked area are the heat exchangers; they let the heated gas in the byproduct lines be cooler by the colder gas in the intercooler loop.
Procedures and Setup
This section describes all of the basic procedures which can be carried out with the engine room equipment. Follow these in order to perform an engine setup, up to the optional/maintenance/emergency steps.
The canister port attached by a pump to the upper, blue coolant line (the hot loop) allows the injection of coolant into the engine. To add coolant to the engine:
- There are six red nitrogen cans in the aft starboard (bottom right) corner of the engine room. Pull three over towards the hot loop.
- Use a wrench on the canisters to attach them to the ports.
- Access the pumps controls by clicking with an empty hand on the pump; click "MAX" to maximise the target pressure and click on the power toggle to turn it on.
- When the coolant canister is empty, wrench it again to disconnect it, and either reuse it as a drain tank or drag it to Atmospherics so that it can be refilled.
- Repeat for the remaining two cans.
- Repeat this with the other three canisters on the bottom, green coolant line (the cold loop).
Starting the Coolant Loop
- Just below the TEGs are a pair of high power gas pumps. This takes the coolant and pumps it through the TEGs, allowing the gas to flow quickly through its respective half of the pipes. Turn them on and set both flow rates to maximum.
- Up at of the engine room, you will find two Omni Gas Filters. These are used to filter out toxins from the engine coolant loop. All you need to do is turn these on, they should be configured correctly at the start of the round.
- Above the Omni Gas Filters is another gas pump, turn this on high as well. DO NOT turn the blue pipe's pump on, only the black one!
Starting the Engine
Do not start the engine unless all other engine setup has been completed. Failing to do so will cause delamination.
Starting the engine entails activating the supermatter core using the emitter in the engine room. In can be done from either inside the engine room itself, or inside the Engine Monitoring Room.
- Ensure that all engine setup has been completed.
- Close the Engine Monitoring Room Blast Doors using the appropriate button.
- Open the Reactor Blast Doors using the appropriate button.
- Activate the emitter.
- From inside the engine room, click on the emitter itself with an empty hand. From the Engine Monitoring room, press the button.
- Allow the emitter to fire eight shots.
- The emitter fires in bursts of four shots with a longer pause between bursts. You can turn it off at any time, even in the middle of a burst.
- 8 or 9 is normal. 10 is risky. Do not shoot more or the engine will overheat.
- If you are "boosting" the engine mid-shift, you should never fire more than one or two shots at a time.
- Turn the emitter off in the same way you turned it on.
- Close the Reactor Blast Doors.
Continue now to complete Engine Waste Setup and Setting Up the SMES sections below.
Engine Waste Setup
Setting up the engine waste system is essential to prevent the engine from overheating.
- Bring the CO2 canister from the bottom right corner of the engine room all the way up towards the Waste port.
- Wrench the canister into the port above the heat transfer coils.
- Turn on the pump connecting this to the pipe. This will pump CO2 into the other side of the heat transfer coils, allowing for the excess heat from the engine waste to transfer out into space.
- You will periodically need to empty out the can of waste gas via Atmospherics if a technician is around.
Setting Up the SMES
There are two SMES units which need to be set up in the Engine Electrical Maintenance room, aft and starboard of the engine room. See [Power Management] for setup.
- From here, you may go to the different Substations around the station (Or use the RCON console), and set up those smaller sub-grids(Optional).
All engine setup is completed now. All procedures below are in case of specific situations. Make sure to read the section about optimizing Power Output, since that is required in the first 10 minutes or so.
Removing Engine Coolant
In some situations, such as minor overheating of the engine, you may wish to purge the engine of coolant before injecting more. The engine is specifically designed to allow you to pump coolant into canisters in order to do this.
- Find an empty canister and relabel it as a hazard canister.
- (To do this, click on the canister with an empty hand to access its control panel, and then click the "Relabel" button. The button will be greyed out unless the canister is completely empty)
- Use a wrench to attach the hazard canister to the Engine Drain port (the RIGHT-side port in the engine waste handling room)
- Turn the engine drain pump on and set the target pressure to maximum.
- Wait for the engine to drain. This can take time, and may require changing a full hazard canister for an empty one, using a to disconnect the one and connect the other.
- In an emergency, it is seldom necessary to fully drain the engine before injecting new coolant. Alternating between both may be less risky.
- Once the engine has drained, click on the switching valve again to return it to normal operation.
- Leave the Engine Drain pump on for a while to clear the pipe, then turn it off, disconnect the hazard canister containing the drained coolant, and return it to ATmospherics to be emptied.
- It is essential to add new coolant if the old coolant has been drained. Without coolant, the engine will inevitably overheat.
- In an emergency when the coolant drain is taking too long, it is possible to briefly open the ejection port to space in order to rapidly drain overheated gas. Remember to close it before adding fresh coolant.
For many crews, it is standard procedure to relabel one of the empty N2 canisters used to fill the engine as a hazard canister and attach it to the Engine Drain port so that a canister is already in place for an emergency.
Venting the Core
When engine overheating is serious enough that there is no time to drain the engine, the coolant inside the engine can instead be vented into space. There is a shutter aft of the core which vents directly into space. There are two buttons which control this shutter. One is located in the bottom-right corner of the engine room, another in the Chief Engineer's Office near the entrance to the Engineering lobby.
Venting the core is as simple as pressing either of the two buttons to open the shutters, and allowing the coolant to vent. This can take a long time - up to a minute or two if the coolant is especially hot or high-pressure - since much of the coolant will be in the pipes rather than in the core when venting starts. Engine pressure can be monitored from the Engine Cooling Control computer in Engine Monitoring.
Once the core has been fully vented, be sure to close the shutter before refilling it with coolant.
Ejecting the Supermatter
If it is utterly impossible to salvage the engine situation, it is possible to eject the supermatter into space, avoiding severe damage to the station.
- Gain access to the Chief Engineer's Office, where the eject button is located.
- If there is no Chief Engineer on staff, you will need to ask the AI to open the door for you.
- If there is no AI either, you will need to either hack the airlock or disassemble one of the windows to get in.
- Ensure the the engine vent is open. There is a button to do so on the wall behind the Chief Engineer's desk, and another in the engine.
- If you accidentally close the shutters instead of opening them by pushing the button when someone in the engine room has already opened them (or someone else does so) the ejection will fail, and will not be repeatable.
- The eject button is located in an alcove behind the Chief Engineer's desk, behind a glass panel. Break the glass using your crowbar, a toolbox, or any other heavy object. Doing so may take several hits.
- Verbally confirm that the engine vent is open with either a crewmember in the Engine Room or the station's AI.
- Press the eject button.
A new supermatter core can be ordered from the Cargo department to replace the ejected one.
Optimization and Maintenance
Locking the Machinery
- You can lock access to the Emitters, though only when activated. This will stop an AI or anyone without management access from messing with them.
- Click on your ID Card to put it in your hand, then click on each Emitter to lock it.
The supermatter stops producing radiation after not having been hit by an emitter blast after awhile. This will slowly lower it's power output as a result. Additional charging may be needed if the power being outputted is not enough to charge the APC units across the station.
- Check the nearby Engine Power Monitoring computer to see the power output as described in the SMES setup process.
- If the SMES units have a red light on top, they are not charging. If this is so, you must either increase output, or lower it's input settings.
- Adjust the SMES settings accordingly to the additional power output.
Make sure that you check the power output from the engine for the first 10 minutes or so, and optimize the SMES levels accordingly. You don't want too much power wasted, but you also don't want the input level to be higher than the produced power, because then it will start taking power from the existing powernet.
Once all APCs around the station have been fully charged, power requirements are reduced. If you wish to reduce potential harm caused by electrical shock, output levels can reduced as well.
- Check the nearby Main Grid Power Monitoring computer to see the current power load.
- Adjust the SMES output charge accordingly, with some margin to allow for occasional power spikes as APCs recharge.
If the supermatter gets too hot or too unstable, it will begin to break down. In such situations, the Engine Monitoring Computer will make an announcement over the station intercom to that effect. If you hear this announcement, haul ass to the engine room immediately. Unless there are many other engineers on shift to do it, your first priority is to get the engine under control.
The first thing you should do is try to find the problem which caused the engine temperature to spike. Power failures due to not setting the engine SMES output high enough, or not turning its input from "Off" to "Auto", are surprisingly common. Otherwise, any number of things may be tampered with by a troublemaker to cause things to go awry. Often, simply finding and fixing the problem will cause the engine to stabilize by itself. If, however, the core instability reaches 40%-50% and you have not found the cause, you urgently need to cool the core if only to give yourself time to find the root of the problem.
There are essentially four things you can do to get the engine temperature down to safe levels:
Emergency Coolant Injection is always a stopgap measure, but it can be one that saves your life. Injecting fresh coolant into the engine without getting rid of the current coolant is a quick way to bring the temperature back down while you prepare for a more effective measure. This is especially effective if Atmospherics have cooled some nitrogen especially for use as emergency coolant.
Draining and replacing the coolant is the best way to resolve the situation if you have the time. Following the procedures list above, first drain the coolant currently in the engine, and then - once all of the coolant has been drained - inject fresh coolant. As always, specially-cooled emergency coolant will speed up the stabilisation of the engine.
Venting and replacing the coolant is a faster, though more wasteful, method of accomplishing the same thing. If core instability rises above 60%-70% and you aren't well on your way to draining and replacing the coolant, you should vent and replace it instead. Simply vent the engine core and then, once the vent has been closed, inject fresh coolant.
Ejecting the supermatter is the most drastic method, but can save the station in a pinch. If instability rises above 80%, or if it seems like you cannot stop the meltdown regardless of the exact level of instability, you should eject the core as per Procedures above. If there are enough engineers on staff, at least one should be standing by to eject while the others work on other methods of getting the core under control, just in case it becomes necessary.