What is the Thermoelectric Generator?
The generator is a three-piece machinery item that consists of a generator, and two circulators. Extras can be ordered from cargo. Thermoelectric generators output power based on:
- Heat difference between the gas piped through the two circulators.
- Specific heat of the gases piped through the circulators.
- Flow rate.
While the 'hot' side and 'cold' side does not matter, the loops need to be very different in temperature. Their mols and pressure do not affect output, though may be significant to your build.
A working thermoelectric generator consists of
- A hot loop hooked into a burn chamber, to generate hot gas
- A cold loop, usually hooked to heat exchange pipes or thermal plates in space
- Gas inside the loops
- Two circulators anchored on either side of a generator
- A gate or pump to cause gas to direct flow
Setting Up on Box
There are three stations that start with a TEG, but Defficiency's TEG is in space and only partially built, designed to work with the RUST. These steps will get the other two, which already have a burn chamber and cooling loop, running quickly.
Building the Gas Chambers: The TEG starts with volume pumps which will only jam the circulators because they don't transmit gas quickly enough.
- 1. Remove the two volume pumps.
- (OPTIONAL) To increase power output by five-fold, remove most all of the piping by the TEG so that you can put in a layer manifold and therefore five times as many scrubbers and vents.
- 2. (On Box) For the hot loop place a vent facing south and a scrubber facing north, then for the cold loop, do the opposite, vent facing north, scrubber south. Remember: Scrubber should face the same direction as that circulator's red light. (On Packed) Hot scrubber faces EAST, vent WEST. Cold scrubber faces WEST, vent EAST.
- 3. Hit the scrubber with your multitool and set the frequency to 1449, and name the ID something easy to remember and short. If you wish to use the provided automation code, name them "circulator".
- (OPTIONAL) You can buffer the vent (or scrubber) in your multitool and use the multitool in your hand to enable cloning. Then just hit the other loop's vent (or scrubber) with your multitool to clone over all the data without typing it in yourself. This is extra-handy if you're stacking up several vents or scrubbers with the layer manifold. You need to disable cloning to set whichever you didn't clone (you can't clone from a vent to a scrubber, but you can flush your old vent to buffer a scrubber for cloning, for instance).
- (OPTIONAL) You can leave the vent and scrubber on the default frequency and configure them manually from the room's air alarm. This won't work when building one from scratch unless you define the area your gas chambers are in and have an air alarm, so it's less useful for space builds.
- 4. Build a full-tile reinforced-glass window over the vents and scrubbers, one for each tile. This completes the "gas chamber", sealing in the plasma. Don't forget to secure the window in place!
- (OPTIONAL) You may elect to use stronger glass like reinforced plasma glass, and to make four directional windows instead of just one full window, to help make the generator more secure against sabotage.
- 5. Connect a plasma canister to each the hot loop and cold loop, which are color coded. Don't forget to turn on the gas pumps so that the loops actually fill!
- 6. Connect one oxygen and two plasma canisters to the burn chamber's fuel line.
Configure the Computer:
- Clear the existing code on the Atmospherics Automatons Computer near the burn chamber. In its place, import this code (valid only if you named your scrubbers and vents "circulator"):
- Click Run Once at the top of the interface. You should see the burn chamber flood with plasma, then catch on fire. If it doesn't catch on fire on its own, press the igniter button.
- The Atmospherics Automations Computer allows you to remotely control some atmospheric devices, like scrubbers and vents. When you toggle 'stopped' to 'running', it will try to execute any code every tick. Avoid using this unless you need a system that updates based on sensor data (for instance, if you would like to set up your chamber to scrub CO2 only when it constitutes 50% of the gas in the chamber).
- The gas in your TEG burn chamber is never actually going through the TEG loop. Instead, the heat from the room is being transferred to the pipes passing through the TEG with the heat exchange pipes inside the chamber, and similarly the pipes outside cool the plasma with the void of space.
- The reason a full pane of glass is placed over the vents and scrubbers is because it prevents gas from escaping in any direction so that it must remain on that tile. It is functionally the same as surrounding the tile with directional windows. You must use reinforced glass because normal glass can be broken by pressure.
- TEG power output is calculated based on the temperature difference between the left and right side, with a significant bonus for the heat capacity of the gas mix. Since plasma has a much higher heat capacity than any other gas, you should always use it in your loops.
If your Thermoelectric Generator begins to die out in power, it's probably because you ran out of heat and the cold of space finally overwhelmed the hot loop. This won't happen if you modify the chamber to continually get more fuel from the plasma and oxygen miners. There are two ways to fix this:
Start Fresh: The more extreme option probably best only used if the chamber is filled with a bunch of cold CO2 and would be more trouble than value.
- Use the computer to turn off the injector.
- Remove the old cans and replace them with new cans in the same configuration.
- Press the 'vent' button, which will open the aft-facing blast shields. Wait for the chamber to empty fully. You can monitor its progress with the nearby tank monitoring computer.
- Close the shields and set the injector back to 'on'.
Add New Fuel: Better if you still have leftover plasma/oxygen and it's not below 0C.
- Use the atmospherics automations computer to set the
inc_outscrubber to ON and only filter CO2. It's not entirely bad to have CO2 in your chamber (as long as it's hot), but since it doesn't burn, it's best to let some out so there's less gas to heat up inside the chamber if it's already cooled.
- Add fresh O2 and Plasma canisters to the inc_in connector ports.
- Turn the scrubbers back off to preserve the rest of your (now heating) CO2. If you leave the CO2 filter running, it will eventually sap almost all of the gas out of your chamber and make it extremely easy to cool to useless levels.
- Run a pipe from Atmos to the burn chamber to have an infinite fuel source.
- Use layer pipes to add more vents and scrubbers.
Lubricating the Circulators
You can increase your power significantly (up to 300% efficiency with linear growth based on your flow capacity) by adding space lube from chemistry to each circulator, which can hold up to 25u. Be careful not to spill it, as it is somewhat dangerous on the floor. As long as there is at least some lube left in the generator it will retain the bonus.
Over time, the lube will turn into toxic waste based on how hard your TEG is working. It converts at a 5:1 ratio, so 25u space lube will become 5u toxic waste.
To cancel out the waste and make room for more lube, pour in ethanol from your provided ethanol tank. It will cancel out the waste at a 1:1 ratio, so pour in only exactly as much is needed. If you accidentally spill something else inside, you'll need a dropper to remove it from the circulator.
Designing From Scratch
- Line up your circulators with the generator and ensure they are rotated properly.
- Wrench down all three pieces. Click the generator to make sure it recognizes the two circulators. If it doesn't, your rotation is incorrect.
- A knotted wire should be placed under the generator piece, which is where power flows from the generator into your power network.
- Next to each circulator, add a volume pump. These ensure that gas travels in one direction. Without these pumps, you will have no flow and generate no power.
Your objective is to create a loop that will generate very cold plasma, but it doesn't need to hold much plasma. Plasma is used because it has a very high specific heat. A cold loop requires no upkeep and shouldn't need to be purged. There is nothing gained by increasing the mols in this loop, so hooking it into a gas miner will not provide an advantage.
- With cooled plasma, less is more. Eight thermal plates are more than enough to keep your gas perfectly chilled.
- If you aren't near a window, you can save space by using layered pipes to stack eight plates on a single tile, then deconstruct that tile with an RCD. Be sure to place windows around the tile first, to prevent the room from depressurizing. You can stack north and south thermal plates on the same layer, for a total of eight. Use one of the layers to connect the top to the bottom.
There are two main ways of designing a hot loop, both of which involve building a burn chamber.
- Option A: Scrub the heated plasma from the burn chamber, and run this through the circulator directly.
- Option B: Create a separate, closed loop of plasma that is connected to thermal plates or heat exchange pipes inside the burn chamber, so that the separate plasma is heated without exchanging with the gas in the chamber.
In either case, the temperature transfer caused by the thermoelectric generator will eventually cause your hot loop to become cold, because your heat generated by a fire is finite, compared to the infinite coldness of space. Consider these other designs when building your heating chamber:
- You can skip building an igniter by placing a lit welder or lighter inside the chamber before filling it with gas.
- Hooking the loop into the plasma miner and oxygen miner (with a gas mixer favoring plasma as 66% input) will allow your burn loop to run indefinitely. Remember that new plasma is not as hot as plasma that has filtered through the burn chamber, so it is better to inject the mix into your burn chamber instead of hooking the mix directly into your hot line.
- Hot loops, unlike cold loops, often require maintenance. Consider building in space or with a two-stage airlock so that you can enter the chamber to perform maintenance.
- Add a filter to remove CO2 buildup
- Add a vent to clear the loop if the generator needs to be rebooted