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Steam is a type of liquid added by several mods that is usually produced by one machine and consumed by another to generate energy. Many mods interact with it, but the main mods include:
- Railcraft provides power generation and steam generation on a large-scale.
- IndustrialCraft2 provides steam generation and can accept EU produced by Railcraft's Steam Turbine.
- Factorization can create steam and use it to generate Charge.
- MineFactory Reloaded adds its own Steam Turbine, capable of producing RF or MJ.
- Big Reactors has Big Reactors which can produce Steam and Turbines which can turn that steam into RF.
- Thermal Expansion does not have a steam creator, but has a Steam Dynamo, which can use Steam to generate RF.
- GregTech 4 (in MC 1.6.x and above) has many machines that use/produce steam - adding a "Steam Age" prior to the IndustrialCraft 2 Electrical Age.
- 1 Railcraft
- 2 IndustrialCraft2
- 3 Factorization
- 4 MineFactory Reloaded
- 5 Big Reactors
- 6 Thermal Expansion
- 7 GregTech 4
- 8 Video
Steam is essential to power Railcraft Steam Boiler and Steam Turbine. Railcraft was the first mod to introduce steam power, and is still one of the best ways to produce it. Railcraft adds a single Steam producer, the Steam Boiler, with multiple variants and multiple ways to generate power from the steam produced, such as the Steam Turbine and other Steam Engines.
A Railcraft Steam Boiler is a multi-block structure, created as a high or low pressure. They have identical maximum efficiency levels, but the High Pressure version takes longer to heat up (lowering actual efficiency), and uses fuel faster, producing more steam per tick.
Each can be fuelled in one of two ways - using a Solid Fueled Firebox and the Liquid Fueled Firebox. Steam Boilers are one of the most efficient ways to generate steam using conventional fuels, but must not be allowed to cool down.
Steam Engines may overheat and explode if not provided with water for cooling, or if one is pointed directly at another, and all require a Redstone Signal to run.
The Steam Turbine outputs EU at the rate of 200EU per tick for 320 mB per tick of Steam - creating a 5:8 EU:Steam ratio. Converting at the ratio of 5EU : 2 MJ (as with the Electrical Engine) and 1 MJ : 10 RF (as with RF Conduits), you end up with a 5 : 2 RF:Steam ratio. This is better than most other forms of conversion, but does require maintenance, as its Turbine Rotor does degrade very slowly.
Including the cost of the initial Rotor, a single Turbine costs 259 Steel - an expensive amount.
Commercial Steam Engine
The Commercial Steam Engine uses 20 mB per tick of Steam to produce 4MJ per tick - creating a 2 : 1 ratio of RF : Steam - as such, it is on par with most other forms of Energy Generation, and needs Steam sourced externally to run.
Hobbyist's Steam Engine
The Hobbyist's Steam Engine can either burn its own internal fuel, or be provided with Steam externally (much like the Steam Dynamo). It outputs 2 MJ per tick when provided with steam from an external source, or 1.6MJ per tick otherwise. Actual steam consumption figures are unknown, but presumed worse than, or similar to alternatives.
Industrial Steam Engine
The Industrial Steam Engine uses 40 mB per tick of Steam to produce 8MJ per tick - exactly twice the amount of the Commercial Steam Engine (so using the same ratio). It needs an external source of Steam to run.
Nuclear Reactors (Pre-IC2 Exp)
With Railcraft installed alongside IndustrialCraft2, it is possible to configure Nuclear Reactors to output Steam in lieu of EU. It is then necessary to construct Steam Turbines to produce EU. For every 200 EU per tick a reactor would produce, a Turbine is needed. As it takes 259 Steel to produce a Turbine and Rotor, this makes Reactors a substantial investment of resources. It is wise to plan accordingly, building reactors that will use their turbines to full potential without producing excess Steam which would be wasted.
While it is possible to pipe steam into turbines, it requires an impressive amount of piping. Four Golden Waterproof Pipe lines are sufficient to carry 320 mB per tick to a nearby turbine. Two Liquiduct lines are equally capable, but also pipe steam faster and therefore further. With larger and more powerful reactors, however, piping quickly becomes unfeasible, and it is recommended to simply place the turbines adjacent to the reactor itself. Naturally this entails a serious risk, as if the reactor explodes it will certainly take the turbines with it.
Since Turbines produce only 200 EU per tick maximum, any reactor setup will only require HV wiring. Lower voltages are subject to greater loss, however, so it is recommended when using multiple turbines to either transform the output upwards or use Glass Fibre Cable.
There is no added element of danger in implementing the steam option. Reactors producing excess steam will not overheat or explode.
To enable steam from reactors, alter the following entry in IC2.cfg:
# Enable steam-outputting reactors if Railcraft is installed B:enableSteamReactor=false
Nuclear Reactors (IC2 Exp)
With the update to IC2, the way in which Steam is produced via a Nuclear Reactor has become more involved, though ultimately outstripping the abilities of BC pipes to cope with the volume of liquids needed to keep things running smoothly. It is now a multi-stage process utilizing multiple blocks. For more information, see Nuclear Reactors.
Production is carried out in two interacting cycles; One to draw heat off the reactor with IC2 Coolant, transferring it to multiple Liquid Heat Exchangers to be cooled, before returning it to the reactor. The heat produced by the Liquid Heat Exchangers, is then applied to Steam Generators (supplied with water) to produce either steam or super-heated steam. Note that these are unique to IC2 and are not interchangeable with Steam from other mods. This steam is then pumped into Kinetic Steam Generators which in turn make EU.
The Steam Generator is a block added by IC2 Experimental and generates Steam using either Water or Distilled Water and Heat (Heat Units or HU). If fed with pure water, it will slowly calcify. When calcification reaches 100%, it will stop working and will need to be removed and replaced (using a Wrench). Distilled Water will cause no calcification.
It turns 1mB of water into 100 mB of Steam. It also uses up 100 HU to generate 100 mB of Steam. The Steam Generator can also output an IC2 Steam-like fluid called Superheated Steam, by setting the pressure to exactly 221 bars. At 221 bars of pressure it takes 200 HU to generate 100 mB of Superheated Steam.
Kinetic Steam Generator
The Kinetic Steam Generator turns Steam into Kinetic Units (KU). Any steam piped into it will turn into Distilled Water at a ratio of 10:1. These kinetic units can be turned into Energy Units (EU / Power) using a Kinetic Generator.
If Superheated Steam is piped into the Kinetic Steam Generator, it will produce regular Steam as a byproduct, instead of Distilled Water. Superheated Steam generates 2x the Kinetic Units that Steam does, but is typically not compatible with other mods' Steam Consumers.
Factorization introduces the Solar Boiler - a large structure that produces steam to be used in that mod's Steam Turbine, which produces Charge. In the past (before Factorization v0.7.15), it added a single block to perform both roles - the Solar Turbine, which could however only generate Charge and not Steam.
Factorization Steam Power is notable as it is the only easily-available renewable source of steam (e.g. not using Charcoal or similar).
The Solar Boiler produces Steam rather than Charge directly. This makes it useful in other Mods, as most do not use Charge, but can use Steam in some respect. Unlike the Solar Turbine, the Solar Boiler can be stacked on top of itself for increased steam generation - each one feeding water and steam to the Boiler above it.
To replace the Solar Turbine, Factorization introduces a Steam Turbine that generates charge when provided by steam from a Solar Turbine. It should be placed on top of the topmost Boiler to accept the Steam produced.
MineFactory Reloaded does not interact often with steam. While many of its machines can be used with other mods' steam producers (e.g. the Weather Collector to provide water, or the Oil Fabricator to fuel a Liquid-Fuelled Firebox), it only really has one block that interacts with Steam directly: the Steam Turbine; as such it cannot make Steam, but can use Steam made by other mods.
MineFactory Reloaded's Steam Turbine achieves the most efficient Steam to RF conversion ratio at a good speed (80 mB of Steam produces 160 RF per tick equating to a 1 to 2 ratio), and has no real downsides when it comes to energy storage or steam usage (e.g. no warm-up time, no penalty for not running at full capacity).
As such, it is likely the cheapest and best-quality "Turbine" that is not a multi-block structure and is suitable for small-scale deployment.
Big Reactors initially had Steam set up as an alternate power generation method, but has since moved to encouraging its use, with a new multi-block Turbine, including (amongst other blocks) a Turbine Controller, Turbine Housing, Turbine Rotor Bearing, Turbine Power Port and Turbine Fluid Port.
Big Reactors' Reactors use Blutonium and Yellorium to create Steam at a variable rate - allowing for incredible amounts of Steam Generation, which pairs nicely with their huge Turbines, more efficient than both the Railcraft Turbine and the Large Steam Turbine added by GregTech.
Thermal Expansion does not commonly deal with Steam, but the Steam Dynamo can be fed Steam instead of making it itself. As such, it has no direct Steam Producer (as it cannot be exported from the Steam Dynamo), but can be used in combination with other mods.
The Steam Dynamo (when fed steam from elsewhere) generates Steam at the same ratio as the MFR Steam Turbine, but gradually loses Steam when not in use, lowering efficiency.
Despite generating RF at the same ratio as an MFR Turbine, it generates it at half the speed - 80RF per tick instead of 160RF per tick. Note it's often more efficient to generate the Steam externally and feed it in, rather than relying purely on the Dynamo itself.
The Steam Dynamo generates Steam at the rate of 40 mB per tick, and one piece of coal will generate 16 buckets of Steam (16,000 mB), compared to 24 buckets of Steam from Coal Coke, making it more efficient when burning coal than steam creators such as those present in GregTech, but less efficient when using Coal Coke than even a single block low-pressure boiler (24 buckets per Coal, 48 buckets per Coal Coke, at around 17 mB per tick).
Prior to GregTech 4 in Minecraft 1.6.x, GregTech's main use of Steam was predominantly through IndustrialCraft2, adding the Large Steam Turbine and the Thermal Boiler - large multi-block structures, for the use and creation of steam.
Following the 1.6.x release and the subsequent modpacks, GregTech has introduced a new Bronze Age, where the player must build bronze machinery, utilizing steam power. The machines listed below are the primary steam creators/consumers, and not the individual machines that run on Steam. For a complete list, see the Bronze Age page.
GregTech machines can also be given a Steam Upgrade to accept Steam directly, or a Pneumatic Generator Upgrade to accept power from the many MJ-producing Steam consumers, however this is typically lossy and so rarely recommended.
Small Coal Boiler
The Small Coal Boiler is added by GregTech, and creates steam by combining water and Coal, Charcoal, Coal Coke or Lignite. It has a brief (6.5 minute) heating up period, during which it will not operate at full efficiency, and a brief (18 minute) cooling down period, where it continues to retain heat (and so create steam for 15 of those minutes), despite having no fuel.
At full temperature, it produces 11,520 mB of Steam per coal or charcoal and 46,080 mB of Steam per Coal Coke, making a Coke Oven well worth the investment. It produces Steam at a rate of 6 mB per tick, making it one of the slowest ways to generate steam. It also produces Ashes as a byproduct of combustion, meaning some level of automation to remove the ashes is required for continuous operation.
If heated without water, it must be allowed to cool before adding water, or it will explode. To note is the disparity when compared to other methods of generating Steam - in particular, the least efficient Railcraft Steam Boiler will generate 24,000 mB of Steam per coal, or 48,000 mB of Steam per Coal Coke, after its initial heat-up period. GregTech Small Coal Boilers are therefore less worthwhile than the Boilers added by other mods, but they are significantly cheaper.
High Pressure Coal Boiler
It runs in much the same way as the Small Coal Boiler, but it is bigger in every way: the time to heat up is longer, the explosion is bigger and it produces 15 mB per tick of Steam, meaning it is both more efficient and also produces more Steam overall, but due to the longer warm-up time, any down-time will have a greater impact on efficiency.
A Coal lasts for 960 tick and a Coal Coke lasts for 3,840t, meaning a single coal will produce 14,550 mB of Steam, and a single Coal Coke will produce 57,600 mB of Steam; these figures are comparable to a Railcraft Steam Boiler (depending on its size).
The Thermal Boiler is a large, relatively expensive multi-block structure that produces Steam when provided with water and either Lava or Molten Salt. Lava is consumed, whereas Molten Salt is returned for re-use. It can also be used with a Lava Filter to create by-products, or used without to create Obsidian when using Lava as the fuel source.
Over time, it will accumulate failures and problems that must be tended to with a Maintenance Hatch, using an appropriate tool, such as a Rubber Hammer. Each problem will cause a 10% loss in efficiency until dealt with.
It consumes 83 mB per tick of Lava to produce 800 mB of Steam; meaning two of these will run a single Large Steam Turbine. Due to the amount created, standard Liquiducts are not fast enough to extract the Steam, potentially creating problems when connecting it to other machines or Steam Networks.
Large Steam Turbine
The Large Steam Turbine is a huge, expensive multi-block structure that produces EU using Steam at varying ratios, depending upon factors such as which rotor is being used and if the turbine has sustained damage. By default (e.g. at 100% efficiency), it will take 1600 mB of steam to produce 800EU per tick.
By fitting a different Turbine Rotor, efficiency can be increased to as high as 125%, or dropped to as low as 60% (providing EU outputs of between 480 EU per tick - 1000 EU per tick). Maintenance cannot be automated, but as Turbine lifespan varies from 27 hours to 16 days, the amount of maintenance required ought to be quite small.
When operated with less than 1600 mB per tick of Steam, efficiency quickly drops towards zero.