Applied Hydrodynamics

Deals with the practical application of the study of Hydrodynamics, more recently in steam powered devices. While a toy of the rich and powerful a few years ago, one effect of the war effort has been the proliferation of steam technology across Europe and subsequent raise in the quality of life for the average citizen. This has not extended to a increase in understanding however, with common folk holding onto the belief that hydrodynamics and it's application are akin to magic. Engineers of Applied Hydrodynamics are in great demand for this reason.

The common steam powered hydrodynamic power plant creates pressurized steam which is passed through a series of pipes in an attempt to transfer that motion to another medium. Hydrodynamic power plants consist of a furnace and tank boiler assembly, several pressure chambers, various output pipes and a myriad of controls. High end power plants and most modern designs include clockwork automation mechanisms which make operation of the power plant safer and much more efficient. Despite this hydrodynamic power plants have a reputation for being extremely hot, loud and generally unpleasant to work with. Because of this, engineers of applied hydrodynamics are perceived to be as unpleasant as their working conditions. However, the average engineer of applied hydrodynamics makes no effort to dispel this perception tending toward the loud and surly life style made famous by their peers. Colloquially referred to as mechanics, they run the gamut from learned gentlemen with a mechanical bent to grizzled bodgers.

Early power plants were heated by burning wood in an open furnace, while most modern devices and all airship power plants use fuel oil or alcohol in a closed and much safer system. Water is fed into the boiler from a larger storage tank. Even on smaller airships, the power plant reserve tank is separate from the fresh water supply tank used by crew. This allows the reserve tank to be filled from rain water collection and other less than potable sources including sea water. This has it's own draw backs and occasionally the tank will have to be drained for cleaning or repaired due to corrosion.

Steam powered engines are fed by pipes from the power plant. The connection between the power plant and the engine is called a conduit. A series of power plant, conduit and engine is a system. Most mechanical devices, especially airships, contain many such systems and they can range over quite a distance. In the engine, the steam is pushed through a turbine, a series of fins around a cam. This turns the cam and thus anything attached to it such as a prop or gear. Speed of rotation can be changed by adjusting pressure through the pipe, but tends to be very inaccurate. This can be made more accurate with the addition of a transmission.

After passing through an engine, steam is vented off or returned to the power plant. A system that contains a method for returning vapor or water to the power plant is called a reflow system. Frequently the vapor is run through a radiator and cooled back into a liquid for return to the reserve tank. These systems are more costly but greatly extend the range and efficiency by cutting down the dependence on water. Some systems, such as those that change the direction of an engine or are used to increase the strength of a lifting arm, do not require a constant flow of steam. These system will frequently utilize a local pressure chamber which is recharged by this venting rather than a direct connection to the power plant. Advanced systems contain a local pressure chamber and a reflow system as well as methods for fueling the engine using the local pressure chamber in the event of the engine loosing pressure from the power plant.

Most modern airships make use of a pressure transmission control system, or simply transmission, to increase the efficiency of the movement of steam. A transmission controls pressure levels through the various outputs of the power plant, contains chambers for over flow and even systems to allow for the reversal of flow through a system. Transmissions are a relatively new development in airship design, being installed in high end racing yachts and most modern military vessels, but lacking in common freight and commuter craft.

Most transmissions rely heavily on clockwork to make fine adjustments and further increase efficiency across the system. They allow not only fine tuning of the system, using pressure chambers to decrease the charge and discharge pressure curve, but management of reflow and secondary routing of systems. This allows a mechanic to redirect pressure from one system to another and cut off pressure to damaged or unnecessary systems. In unexperienced hands a transmission can be used to totally destroy any system connected to it, assuming the mechanic understands it at all. For this reason mechanics tend to make various modifications to a transmission, customizing to the point of personalization. Some mechanics even claim a signature on systems they have worked on and can notice the lineage of a mechanics training just by examining an airship's transmission.

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