So. I’m still playing Minecraft modified by Gregtech 5 Unofficial, plus a few other significant mods. There’s part of me that thinks I’m sinking way, way too much time into this, and that I really ought to move on to one of the excellent games in my backlog, but then I wake up thinking about how to solve my latest engineering problem.
I’ve solved my perpetual power generation problem, at least for the moment.
My 32 volt network is powered by a multi-block Large Steel Boiler, fed by an automated tree farm. The boiler generates rather more steam than I need, so I’ve got circuitry cycling it on and off - on when the steam reserve drops below 10%, and off when it hits 90%. I built it primary because it can be automated this way, while the older, single-block High Pressure Coal Boilers have to be stoked by hand and cleaned out periodically. The excess capacity is nice as well, I can run my Electric Blast Furnace continuously now, which I couldn’t when it was only being fed by the 24 High Pressure boilers plus the 30 Solar Boilers.
Steam’s not all that practical for the 128 volt machinery, though. Feeding just one 128 volt steam turbine requires a very high capacity pipe. I just finished building out the power infrastructure for 128 volt stuff, a 9 machine production line turning Oilsand into Nitro Diesel. That required a lot of groundwork, since in addition to the Oilsand, it needs supplies of hydrogen and nitrogen, and it produces excess Hydrogen Sulfide.
The later I’m converting into sulfuric acid, which in turn fills lead-acid cells, which I cycle through a battery buffer for a little extra power. Really, the amount of energy it generates is small - about 2% of the energy content of the Nitro Diesel produced - but otherwise the hydrogen sulfide backs up pretty quickly. There are some other uses for sulfuric acid, but mostly it’s trivial stuff like creating dye, and there’s no way I’d make a significant dent in it otherwise.
The long-term plan is to get into oil drilling, rather than using oilsand, which I have to find and mine by hand. At least each block of Oilsand generates about 15x as much energy as a block of coal. The real benefit is distribution, the resulting fuel has an energy density 1000x that of steam.
Oil drilling rigs and seismic prospectors to find oil require tech I won’t have for a while. Since oil reserves are local and vary wildly, I’m imagining I’ll end up with distant oil fields, with automated trains transporting the oil from those remote fields. Hopefully using chunkloaders to facilitate this won’t bring my computer to its knees.
In a unrelated development, I finally figured out how to reliably prospect for ores. Gregtech has 28 different kinds of ore veins, and I’ve been stymied a couple of times because I needed something in particular and couldn’t find it. The answer, it turns out, is to dig vertical exploration shafts, rather than the conventional, horizontal exploration I was used to from vanilla Minecraft.
In hindsight, it’s obvious why. I’ve cleared a couple of veins, and they’re essentially really big discs. Very large diameter (50-80 blocks), but thin (5-8 blocks). Digging horizontally it’s extremely unlikely to hit a target like that, but it’s very difficult to miss when digging vertically.
Searching was tedious, but at least I now get reliable results, instead of a whole lot of nothing. I’ve turned up 20+ nearby sites I didn’t know were there, and found some things I’ve been needing for quite a while like silver, quartz, and diamonds.