Water, Water Everywhere Part 3
For our final look at trucking massive amounts of hydrogen to pep up your power plants, jazz your jump drives, master your maneuver drive and ramp up your reaction drives -Ultradense Deuterium (UDD)! Metallic hydrogen may have been created in minute quantities already. UDD blows it away and may always remain fictional. However, as Robert A. Heinlein said everything is impossible till someone does it! Besides, it meets so many properties of space opera fuel!
First UDD has a phenomenal density of 100 kg per cubic centimeter or 100,000 tons per cubic meter! Hypothetically, the lovely dense stuff fuses easily under laser beams giving us a fairly easy way to build fusion reactors (a laser and a really strong container) and rockets (the same with a hole in one end).
Obviously a small faction of a ship's fuel will be UDD. The stuff is so dense, tanks of it are problematical. In general a tank is about one sixth the mass of the fuel it holds. just dumping UDD in your ship's fuel can overload the drives and stress the tanks till they burst.
UDD also has a disturbing tendency according to researcher to fuse in a chain reaction. A ship be better off synthesizing UDD as it is needed. One cubic centimeter of UDD holds 7800 Terawatts of energy. That's between about 2 megatons. I don't know about you but 2 megatons is more than two million times as much boom as I want on my ship.
However, positing a way to create UDD in minute quantities, as needed, avoids all those high energy, high pressure fusion issues. You can use it to jack up your fuel load similar to carrying Metasol (see link above).
Maybe larger vessels create this stuff as needed, small craft may not have the means and merely cary a set amount of UDD. Craft like fighters may require a larger amount of UDD (all they need for their mission) which explains why all those space future fighters explode so cinematically.
A Personal (not too Personal) Note: I'd like to thank Winchell Chung for the support he's shown this blog and my efforts. Winchell runs the astounding Atomic Rockets site (under Project Rho). I mine it liberally for ideas. Seriously, it's a worse time sink than TV Tropes -except you learn stuff! Rock on Mr. Chung!