Chronicles of Mernvan
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Engines in Mernvan are alchemical devices which, by their design, induce currents in the Ether and channel them through etherically active materials. The most familiar example of an active substance is amalgam.
The alchemy of Mernvan organizes the fundamental building blocks of existence into five elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. These represent the pattern of interaction of substances. For instance, Earth yields Metal when parted by Wood. When these simultaneously destructive and constructive processes occur, currents in the Ether are produced. Engines work by introducing purified elemental substances into a controlled environment where the energy of these currents can be captured.
There are many types of engines, and designs are usually associated with specific foundries, be they nationalized or private. Most differ only in the elements used, but some are truly unique.
Acidulated Crystal Engine (Acryst)
An acryst engine use an inactive reaction chamber, such as laminated lignum vitae or rock iron, to house a liquid solution of antiprime. Primary fuel rods of crystalline prime and seed crystals of depositor are introduced into the reaction chamber. The antiprime attacks the prime, destroying it, and deposits elemental depositor onto the seed crystal. Coupling the control rods and seed crystal via an active substance accelerates the process and induces etheric currents in the coupling assembly.
Control of the active coupling’s flow density is very important to the the engine’s stability. General air has almost no specific affinity, whereas active substances like that of the active coupling have very high specific affinities. Overloading the system with too high a flow density will cause overdraw, which the engine responds to in one of two ways: the antiprime overheats and destroys the system by breaching the reaction chamber, or impurities in the active coupling cause heating and eventual failure of the current control system, usually resulting in catasrophic failure of the system.
Vaporous Depositor Screen (Vap)
Similar to an Acrysys engine, vaps use a different kind of depositor assembly. A very fine wire array is constructed of amalgam, and then a liquid solution of the despositor element is vapor deposited onto the array. The specifics of the process are kept secret.
The entire array is inserted into the reaction chamber as the depositor seed. The advantage of the system is a higher and more consistent initial etheric current source, as well as a safer failure mode: if the antiprime overheats, the amalgam array melts and fragments, effectively shutting down the current flow. This can be detected and the fuel rods extracted before the engine completely fails. Because of clogging of the depositor array, acryst engines usually run for a sorter period of time before the depositors need to be switched out.
Unfortunately, the depositor array is a sensitive, expensive, and dangerous device. Depending on the design, compressing the array by as little as 5% can cause a runaway reaction that quickly overloads and detonates the engine as the fuel is consumed in a matter of seconds.