Warp Core

Warp core is the common designation for the main energy reactor powering the propulsion system on warp-capable starships. During the 22nd century, warp reactors aboard NX-class starships were technically known as the "Gravimetric Field Displacement Manifold". (ENT: "Cold Front") The reactor had eight major components. (ENT: "Desert Crossing")

On Federation starships, the warp core usually consists of a matter/antimatter reaction assembly (M/ARA) utilizing deuterium and antideuterium reacting in a dilithium crystal matrix which produces a maximum output of 4,000 teradynes per second. (VOY: "Drone")

22nd century warp cores were designed as oblong cylinders connected by pylon conduits directly into the warp nacelles. (Star Trek: Enterprise) In the 23rd century, the warp core was not situated in the main engineering. The main warp reaction occurred in a dilithium crystal converter assembly which consisted of two flattened rounded nodules situated directly in front of the warp plasma conduits to the warp engines, which were behind a large metal grate. (Star Trek: The Original Series; ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II") By 2270, most Federation warp cores were redesigned to consist of a large warp core unit in the secondary hull with matter and anti-matter channeling into the core through vertical conduits, with the resulting energy directed to the nacelles through a horizontal conduit leading out from the rear of the core. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
Of the original Constitution-class warp core, only the dilithium crystal assembly and the plasma conduits were ever seen in Star Trek: The Original Series. When Doug Drexler was called to design the detailed schematics of a Constitution-class starship, he designed a horizontal warp core that runs two decks below main engineering. [1] The schematic made a prominent appearance on screen in ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II". Star Trek: The Animated Series also featured a vertical component of the warp core, that extended from the dilithium crystal assembly.

As a safety precaution, the core could be physically ejected from the ship should an event such as the catastrophic failure of the containment of the matter-antimatter reaction occur and the crew decides it cannot be corrected. (TOS: "That Which Survives"; TNG: "Cause and Effect", "All Good Things…"; VOY: "Cathexis", "Day of Honor", "Renaissance Man"; Star Trek)

Antimatter containment is achieved through the use of magnetic fields, which guide and direct the antimatter through the antimatter engine to injector coils, which precisely compresses and streams the antimatter into the form which enters the dilithium articulation frame. Deuterium, stored in the ship or attracted by the Bussard collectors, is funneled in a stream from the opposite deuterium injector. The molecules enter the lattice matrix of the crystallized dilithium, reacting within it and releasing a tuned energy stream in the form of electro-plasma, a highly energetic form of plasma. The electro-plasma is carried by magnetic plasma conduits throughout the power transfer system. In the Federation power transfer grid, this is the electro-plasma distribution network, comprised of EPS conduits and EPS taps. The most energized stream created is the warp plasma, which exits in twin power transfer conduits connected to the warp nacelles. (ENT: "Cold Front", "These Are the Voyages…"; Star Trek: Insurrection)

During the 23rd century, dilithium crystals were also used in Klingon warp reactions to generate energy at sufficient levels to enable warp flight. A difference noticed in the 24th century was that Klingon engines use a tritium intermix (tritium/antitritium) rather than a deuterium intermix. (DS9: "When It Rains…")

On Romulan starships, a different approach is used; an artificial quantum singularity in the warp core is used to harness the energy necessary to power warp flight. (TNG: "Timescape")

Warp cores on starships leave resonance traces, allowing for the ability to track vessels. (VOY: "Caretaker")

A warp core can also be towed using a tractor beam if calibrated properly. (VOY: "Day of Honor", "Renaissance Man")

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