The Engineer's main work revolves around the Propulsion Systems. Aboard the USS Black Hawk, there are three main propulsive units: the Warp Drive, Impulse Drive, and Reaction Control System or Thrusters.
The Warp Drive is the common name for the Continuum Distortion Drive, which is the faster than light propulsion system on Federation starships.
Basic Warp TheoryEdit
Warp Drive works on the practical application of Warp theory. In normal space the laws of physics prevent a vessel from traveling faster than the speed of light. However with the use of asymmetrical subspace fields, a vessel can capture itself and the space it is occupying. The subspace field doesn't move the ship, but rather the "bubble" of space the ship is in. It does this by creating a field imbalance, thus the asymmetrical shape, having the stronger portion of the field in the aft of the ship causing it to go in the opposite direction. Speed is determined by the strength of the subspace field compared to the potential of that area of space. A stronger field can be obtained by the layering effect. Because the potential of an area of space varies, the amount of power necessary to create a subspace field varies. For instance, in any area where a rift in the boundary of space and subspace has occurred, the potential is negative, and often times infinitely negative. An infinitely negative potential means that no amount of power from the warp drive will create a workable subspace field. The opposite is true, but the positive values have never been infinite.
Matter / Antimatter Reactor SystemEdit
Warp Drive is comprised of three main systems: the fuel system, warp core, and nacelles. All three are basically in the same configuration no matter what ship you are on.
The responsibilities of an Engineer towards the fuel system is to report fuel consumption to the Commanding Officer and maintain the integrity of the tank and it's piping as well as their flow. Engineers have to keep a vigil to make sure that the containment system within the antimatter pods does not fail. If the containment began to fail it would be necessary to eject the pod. Engineers have to monitor the entire length of piping from the antimatter storage pods to the warp core and the magnetic field as well as adjust the various constriction parameters to maintain the flow.
The next part of the warp drive is the Warp Core. Magnetic containment fields must be maintained for the entire core from the matter injector to the antimatter injector. The Engineers duties to the dilithium crystal focus on alignment. He must make sure that the injectors & dilithium are appropriately aligned so that the reaction will take place at the right part of the core [in Intrepid Class starships, which utilize Dilithium in the form of a crystalline foam, this is still necessary, however only in so far as that the matter and antimatter streams must meet near the center of the core]. This is especially important during intermix changes [which is the ratio and amount of matter and antimatter as well as the speed in which they are injected into the core]; such changes in the ratio are the Chief Engineer's duty. Alignment checks are also important during acceleration/deceleration. Physical adjustments can be made to the injector nozzles or the dilithium articulation framework. Another means of adjustment is the magnetic containment fields within the core itself. While adjusting these for alignment purposes is one duty, the Engineer must also adjust these to maintain containment of both the antimatter and radiation within the core. Dilithium re-crystallization is also another duty of the Engineering officer and should be done at appropriate times to prevent complete loss of dilithium regulation.
Power Transfer ConduitsEdit
Efficiency drops in the power transfer conduits could be a sign of trouble and must be monitored. The containment fields on these conduits must also be monitored to prevent plasma and radiation from leaking. Heat and pressure from the plasma must also be monitored, too much and the conduits can be easily ruptured. Pressure is regulated by the use of the magnetic containment fields, but the heat has to be taken care of by the use of coolant. Engineers must monitor the pressure and heat regulation system regularly because of the danger involved if either gets out of hand. EPS taps of the power transfer conduits must also be monitored.
The firing rate of the plasma injectors are controlled by the computer and the programming for that firing rate is loaded from the time the ship is built. Adjustments can usually be made to the mass produced system to make it ideal for the ship, Engineers are responsible for making these adjustments so the ship runs as efficiently as possible. Equipment must be monitored regularly to make sure that the injectors are firing properly. Warp field tuning is achieved through the warp field grill [the Defiant Class vessel does not have warp field grills], proper management is necessary for an efficient warp field. Engineers must watch the warp field coils to make sure they do not overheat, and that the structure of the nacelles themselves to do not overheat. The final necessary item to watch is the plasma vents, making sure that they are functioning properly so that plasma is released and held only when necessary with the proper flow rate. Equipment for masking the plasma and ion trail is within the vents and must also be maintained.
The Impulse Drive is the slower than light, or sub-light, drive on Federation Starships.
There are five main subsystems used by the Impulse Engine. The fuel systems are the same ones used by the Warp Drive, and those duties will over lap except for the care and maintenance of the sub-tanks that are used mainly by the Impulse Drive. The other four systems of the Impulse Engine are the Fusion Cores, Accelerator/Generator, Space Time Driver Coil, and Vectored Exhaust Director.
The fusion core has an inner liner of crystalline gulium fluoride 40 cm thick that must be maintained to protect the reactor from the reactions and radiation within it, once eroded the reactor sphere is replaced with a new one, average swap out is 10,000 hours. If 0.01 mm of the inner line is ablated or if ≥2 fractures measuring 0.02 cm3 form the reactor will be swapped. Efficiency must be maintained through the adjustment of various factors. One such factor, which also affects power output, is the size of the frozen deuterium pellets used to fuel the reactor. Fusion initiators must be maintained. Accelerator/Generator: The accelerator/generator is the switch that uses the energy from the impulse reactors to either power the impulse drive or the ship. Normal wear and tear change out is 6250 flight hours, however damage or anomalies may accelerate this. Connections to the reactors, driver coil, and eletroplasma system must be monitored and maintained. Only the accelerator portion of this subsystem may be disconnected and put through testing while the ship is away from a starbase, but the testing cannot be destructive. Efficiency of both portions of this system must be maintained to Starfleet standards.
Space-Time Driver CoilEdit
On vessels that have them, this coil must be maintained to keep the vessel moving under impulse. Replacement of and scheduled repair on the driver coil assemblies cannot be done without a dock-capable starbase. Servicing is scheduled at 6250 flight hours. Following flight rules prevents most early replacement, and the Chief Engineer is charged to enforce these rules absent of emergency situations.
Vectored Exhaust DirectorEdit
The device that controls the direction in which the ship goes must be synchronized, each vent and each separate engine. Programmed and human input commands must be verified from time to time to test mechanism communication. The directional veins within each vent can be replicated and replaced if damaged or not performing to specifications.
Reaction Control SystemEdit
Also known as thrusters, this propulsion system is generally used for station keeping, making sure that the ship stays in one position, and orientation. They are also used to move the ship in and out of dock.
Thrusters are similar to the Impulse Reactors; they use gas-fusion, not solid fusion. Their fuel is deuterium, so most of the checks necessary for the fuel system have been covered, the only addition is the immediate-use supplies for each thruster package, the piping from the main deuterium tank, and proper flow maintenance. Each thruster package has initiators, magnetohydrodynamic field traps, vectored thrust nozzles, and mooring tractor beam emitters.
The initiator must be synchronized with the fuel intake. This includes firing rate timing and ignition strength. The ability of each thruster package to act in unison with any other package or group of packages is key. The reaction chambers can withstand 400,000 firings and 5'500 hours of operation before the inner wall requires resurfacing.
Magnetohydrogynamic Field TrapsEdit
This device performs energy recovery in the first stage maintenance must insure it is capable of returning the appropriate amount of undifferentiated plasma to the power net. The plasma return channels are rated for 6,750 hours before the inlets must be replaced. The second stage performs partial throttle operations, as the exhaust enters the thrust nozzle. Proper flow must be maintained.
Vectored Thrust NozzlesEdit
These devices exert so much force against the space-frame of the vessel that they must be checked for secure mounting regularly. Flow checks among the nozzles should also be done regularly.