By far the oldest technology still used by the Zambarau Concord today, electrostatic fusion reactors were developed by the Zambarau themselves, before even the Pre-Formation Era. When the Zambarau decided they would travel to the stars in search of company, they first realised they needed a very high energy density power source to even provide the energy they would need to power a starship.
They came up with a type of electrosatic fusion known as 'Periodically Oscillating Plasma Sphere' (POPS), which oscillates an electrostatic field to keep the fusion plasma well distributed, increasing efficiency and almost eliminating energy loss from Coulomb collisions. Another advantage of this form of fusion is that the reactors can be made extremely small, on the scale of centimetres or smaller for some more advanced models (though the total power output would be very low). A final advantage of Zambarau reactors was that they used a charged grid to extract energy from the fusion products directly so that no moving parts were required (however, this required fusion reactions in which all of the products were charged and had exactly the same energy).
One of the problems with the design of a POPS was that the sphere responsible for focussing the ions had to be over 99.9999% transparent for the reactor to work efficiently. At first an extremely fine mesh of carbon nanotubes was tried, but this proved too fragile and difficult to build. Eventually a surprisingly simple solution was found that was much more robust and simple; when the sphere is made out of carefully manufactured beryllium almost all of the ions pass through the sphere like ghosts!
One of the difficulties with creating a high energy density fusion reactor was that the walls of the reactor could only take so much energy for long periods of time before failing (at the time the best Zambarau materials could withstand a maximum 320 watts per square centimetre for long periods of time). The soution seemed to be to fit the largest surface area into the smallest volume possible; POPS was perfect for this, as the reactors could be made very small. Zambarau fusion reactors are made up of cylindrical POPS reactors measuring 1 centimetre long and wide; about 1 million POPS reactors can fit into a cubic metre.
The first Zambarau electrostatic fusion reactors had an energy conversion efficiency of 80% and an energy density of 7.5 gigawatts per cubic metre; they used proton-lithium7 fusion reactions. Modern reactors have an energy conversion efficiency of over 95% and an energy density of over 30 gigawatts per cubic metre; they use the CNO cycle (carbon catalysed proton-proton fusion), which only requires protium (the most common form of hydrogen) as fuel.
Plasma-Enabled Electrical TransmitterEdit
Plasma-Enabled Electrical Transmitters (PEET) came about as a direct consequence of the wide-scale adoption of Zambarau electrostatic fusion generators. They were developed in the Pre-Formation Era, in which the Zambarau allowed other races limited access to some of their technologies (their high energy density POPS fusion reactors being the most widespread). The problem was that electrostatic fusion reactors produced a massive electrical output that would cause conventional electrical wires to melt; this was especially problematic on spacecraft, where every gram of added weight was a penalty, and huge, heavy, bundles of electrical wiring were required to carry the output of the reactor. This problem was partially solved using superconducting wires (which have zero electrical resistance, and therefore do not heat up at all); however, the more electricity that travels through the wire the more powerful the electromagnetic field of the wire becomes, eventually the superconductor reaches its 'critical magnetic field' and loses its superconductivity.
The final solution came as a result of insight from the Kakranukh, who were familiar with plasma and electrical storms present on their gas giant planets. The logic of PEET goes like this; if a wire gets too hot it melts into a liquid, if that gets too hot it evaporates into a gas and if that gets too hot it turns into a plasma; so why not start the wire off as a plasma in the first place? The idea is not as crazy as it might seem. As plasma is ionised it is an excellent conductor of electricity and can easily be contained within magnetic fields, this is how PEET works. A PEET is simply a long tube with superconducting wires coiled around it; the inside of the tube is highly reflective (coated with a similar material as a solar sail) and vacuum-sealed to prevent it from heating up. A long stream of plasma runs down the tube through which electricity is passed to be carried to the other end of the PEET; as the electricity passing through the plasma increases the plasma naturally gets more energetic and a more powerful magnetic field is produced; this induces the superconducting coils to produce a more powerful magnetic field to keep the plasma confined (as superconductors naturally 'mirror' any magnetic field they are exposed to). The whole system is enclosed in a Faraday cage to prevent the powerful magnetic fields produced from affecting nearby equipment. Due to the fact that PEETs themselves consume energy, they are only practical for systems in which huge amounts of electrical energy must be transferred. If only small amounts of energy are being transferred the PEET will consume more energy than it carries and instead of a plasma will just contain an ionised gas.
Dynamic Compression MembersEdit
There are notable similarities between the designs of Plasma-Enabled Electrical Transmitters and Dynamic Compression Members. Indeed, many constructions that use DCMs for support also use them for the transfer of power through the structure.