Sketches – Charged Gas Harvester

It only took a few jump points to be charted before deWulf explorers discovered warp points that had formed inside interstellar nebulae. In addition to the amazing scientific opportunities this offered, industrial interest followed quickly afterwards. While some nebulae (The Rotensee and Nebelflamm) were energetic enough to be hazardous even to warships, others (The Cloak Nebula) were safe for regular transit.

And regular transit in turn means easy access, and the close attention of industry. While nebulae in general suffer from low particle density, the ease of access and low capital investment required were more than enough to make it a profitable enterprise. In many cases, harvested materials only require basic fractionation before they are in a pure, usable state. The most common interstellar medium is composed of hydrogen and/or helium, though some nebulae have proven to have deposits of heavier elements.

The tool of choice for this kind of work is the charged gas harvester, pared with a low-level electron gun. The electron gun is fired into the cloud, knocking off electrons and turning the normally neutral particles into charged ions. The charged gas harvester is then energized with a powerful opposite charge, drawing the newly-charged matter into the funnel. Once close to the harvester, a shorter range series of pulsating fields draws the matter into the intake aperture before it is driven into a holding tank. Once inside, the material is then fractionated into its component resources and tanked for transport. There are two things that any gas miner has to keep in mind as they work. Firstly, the harvested ions are likely to react once in the harvester, potentially leading to more complex processing. Secondly the harvester and the electron gun can have a substantial voltage differential, and care must always be taken to keep any potential shorting to a minimum.

With several nebulae in deWulf space, I posited that the various corporations wouldn’t be letting a valuable resource like gas just float there unharvested. I used to play EVE Online, which featured gas harvesting as a kind of secondary career, and I realized that something similar probably takes place as well. Though, deWulf space is substantially less advanced, and so their hardware would look simpler, and more industrial.

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