Release that Witch Chapter 1179
Chapter 1179: Tri-tank Magic Power Unit
Anna studied the prototype up and down before she expressed her thought on the machine.
"It's pretty... small."
"But it looks nice," Celine said meditatively. "I like those tubes. They're just like tentacles."
Roland smiled. Anna and Celine viewed this new machine from a completely different perspective, and naturally, they reached different conclusions. Nevertheless, both of them pointed out the exact features of the machine.
Compared to the first cast-iron steam engine Anna had created, this prototype was much smaller. Needless to say, Anna's skills had improved a great deal since then, but most importantly, the reduction of size was mainly ascribed to the absence of a boiler.
The steam engines currently used in Neverwinter was of its fourth generation. In spite of that, the boiler portion of the machine remained pretty much the same for each generation. The steam engine still required a large combustion chamber and a furnace to operate, no matter what kind of combustible materials were in use — whether it was charcoal, wood or heavy oil. Now, the boiler was replaced with a rectangular steel box one meter in length, half a meter in width and less than 20 centimeters in height.
This box was the core power unit of the whole mechanic system.
The cube and water were put in an enclosed container with a high pressure tolerance to power the machine. The system was technologically demanding, so Roland did not think they would have been able to create such an advanced steam engine back in the Border Town even if they had obtained this cube that had once belonged to the radiation race at that time.
The steel box, which was the power unit of the machine, was embedded with three magic cubes. Its bottom was plastered with lead to block excess radiation, the top of which was lined with a dozen conduits that passed through a water tank and a condenser around the bottom. The whole "heating-converting-cooling" process was conducted in an enclosed system without any contact with the external environment. Theoretically, there would be no need to replace the thermal conductive material as long as the device was functioning properly.
Roland could have produced a smaller steam engine.
He could have replaced water, the most accessible and affordable thermal conductive material with more efficient one, such as liquid alkali metal, to further reduce the size while maintaining the same power.
However, the main purpose of building a prototype was to see if this system worked. Roland did not want to see any leak during the test. If the evaporated alkali metal and water vapor reacted, the entire laboratory would be probably blown away.
The thermal energy created by the cube would reach the water tank through the conduits to boil the water in it. After the water was heated up, everything would then be quite similar to ordinary steam engines that they were very familiar with.
Celine really liked the condensers on both sides of the machine. To maximize the heat-transfer area, each tube meandered around the box just like tentacles.
Compared to cumbersome traditional steam engines, this prototype was small and delicate with its dazzling silver box at the center and reflective copper conduits around it. Even a regular lay man who knew nothing about machinery would be able to tell which steam engine was more advanced.
It was almost like artwork.
"So... let's begin?" Roland suggested while turning to Celine and Anna.
Anna nodded as she rested her hand on the operation rod and said, "Together."
Celine placed her main tentacle on both Roland's and Anna's hands after a moment of hesitation.
"Testing on the prototype of the magic steam engine. Three, two, one, go!"
As Roland counted to three, the rod was pulled down to the bottom, turning the three magic cubes on. The new steam engine, which marked the dawn of a new age of industrialization, started running for the first time.
Yet the laboratory was perfectly silent as though nothing had happened.
"Er... did we fail?" Celine asked hesitantly as she looked at the motionless machine.
"No, it's still heating," Roland replied confidently.
After around two minutes, the central steel box trembled slightly, and the indicator light on one of the tubes emanated a soft yellow glow. The indicator light, which was actually a pressure gage made of the tablet discovered in the cave, showed changes in the air pressure within the tubes.
It took a much longer time to transmit the heat. After around another five minutes, vapor finally escaped from the water tank, and the piston started to move.
As the temperature in the tubes steadily increased, the flywheels of the steam engine spinned faster and set the water pump of the condensation system in motion. The main purpose of this water pump was to expedite the circulation of the system and send the cooled thermal conductive material back to the central box, which thus completed the whole cycle.
"It seems the machine works pretty well," Anna said while heaving a deep sigh smilingly. "The only drawback is that it's a bit slow at the beginning."
"All steam engines have that problem," Roland assented while nodding. It took time to transfer heat. Even the most efficient thermal conductor would be slower than an internal combustion engine that could almost start working immediately. As this new steam engine required at least three water tanks in theory, it would be still a lot larger than an internal combustion engine. Another shortcoming was that the Magic Cube consumed a lot of uranium, which made this prototype almost had no practical value.
Nevertheless, every industrial undertaking was time-consuming.
Once Celine figured out how to sustain the system, Roland believed this new steam engine would soon benefit the whole society. Its relatively small size made it easier for mass production and also enabled people to attach it to most transportation tools. Meanwhile, the new power source would also save a lot of space for cargos, as fuels were no longer necessary for operation.
Half an hour later, the speed of the steam engine reached its height. The whole machine shook dangerously, and the bubbling sound of water vapor gradually dissolved into an angry shrill. Apparently, three magic cubes overloaded the system. Roland thus turned off two magic cubes and finally tranquilized the prototype.
The next step was a lengthy reliability test.
This test would take approximately a week, which was also a test that would expose many potential problems. It was easy to build the machine and make it work, but it was hard to ensure that it would function properly every time.
Watching a puffing and huffing steam engine was boring, but Roland liked to talk with Anna. He felt relaxed and calm as if he and Anna had suddenly traveled back through time to the moment they had first met.
Celine left the laboratory quietly, leaving the couple alone.
Anna rested her head on Roland's shoulder. The noises produced by the machine suddenly became muffled and distant.
"If this thing works, I'll then be one step closer to your previous world, right?"
"Yes, and probably you'll be much closer than you think. There has not been any technologies like this in that world yet."
"Can we also create those four-wheeled vehicles that you once talked about?"
"Yes, we can. I can design a simple one for you if you like."
"Sounds great!" Anna said, her face lighting up. "By the way, what will you call this machine?"
"Does it have to have a name?" Roland asked, smiling.
"Of course," Anna replied solemnly.
"Alright then. Black Technology No. 1 or Magic Cube Power Unit. Which one do you prefer?"
"It's not black at all... Oh well, I choose the latter. But how do we distinguish its various models if we use this name?"
"That's easy. One Magic Ceremony Cube represents one tank. So, this prototype can be called tri-tank magic power unit. How does that sound?"
"Sounds a little strange for some reason."
"It doesn't have to be perfect..."
Their laugh and the roar of the machine mingled together and lingered on in the air like a long murmur of music above the yard.