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Carbon Skimmer Chemistry


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The way the carbon skimmer works has always bothered me, and I only now figured out why: the chemistry is wrong. It sucks up carbon dioxide and pumps out polluted water, but that equation doesn't balance:

300g CO2 + 1000g H2O --> 1000g pH2O

Where did the extra 300g disappear to? According to ConverUnits.com, here's the breakdown of each element by mass, because my brain can't handle calculating the exact number of atoms right now:

1000g H20 = 111.90g H + 888.10g O
300g CO2 = 81.873g C + 218.127g O
Total input of each element = 111.90g H, 81.873g C, 1106.227g O

There should be a WHOLE lot more oxygen coming out of that process. I can understand the carbon going into the water, which pollutes it (I know I wouldn't want to drink water filled with black dust), but a lot of oxygen is just getting deleted, and thermodynamics says that can't happen.

If I'm missing something, even if it's lore that defies our current understanding of physics, please let me know, because it bugs me that this can't be used for oxygen production.

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This indeed doesn't chemically balance, however it does allow you to run a carbon skimmer directly through a water sieve in a closed loop forever.

I'd say the thing you're missing is that this game doesn't actually respect conservation of energy in any way, it just pretends to occasionally.

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13 hours ago, Azzarinne said:

The way the carbon skimmer works has always bothered me, and I only now figured out why: the chemistry is wrong. It sucks up carbon dioxide and pumps out polluted water, but that equation doesn't balance:

300g CO2 + 1000g H2O --> 1000g pH2O

Where did the extra 300g disappear to? According to ConverUnits.com, here's the breakdown of each element by mass, because my brain can't handle calculating the exact number of atoms right now:

1000g H20 = 111.90g H + 888.10g O
300g CO2 = 81.873g C + 218.127g O
Total input of each element = 111.90g H, 81.873g C, 1106.227g O

There should be a WHOLE lot more oxygen coming out of that process. I can understand the carbon going into the water, which pollutes it (I know I wouldn't want to drink water filled with black dust), but a lot of oxygen is just getting deleted, and thermodynamics says that can't happen.

If I'm missing something, even if it's lore that defies our current understanding of physics, please let me know, because it bugs me that this can't be used for oxygen production.

What if some oxygen was released from the CO2 while the extra water is stored in the building and pressurizes up until 1 kg or so and spills it on the ground. so that the pH2O can come out at the same grammage it came in at.

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One way it would make sense would be for the CO2 to react with lime creating CaCO3 in the water that for game purposes would be considered polluted water. But lime became too valuable and hard to get for it to be used as fuel for that.

Another option would be microorganisms in the water absorbing the CO2. Then the skimmer could be considered a bioreactor of sorts. But then it would produce some oxygen or other things.

Either way some mass is lost. It`s not the only place where mass is weird though. Dupes breathing and generator outputs don`t add up either. They could addjust the skimmer so that it doesn`t lose mass but i don`t think it`s needed. It would be pretty small amounts and might cause issues with closed systems when extra mass is added.

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Personally, I don't mind it. However, when I first played this game, I had your same doubt and a lot more. My chemical training background made me raged at chemical formula imbalance, oblivion of the law of mass/energy conservation, and breaking of 2nd law of thermodynamics (there's even a log of that in Gravita's ruin ironically). i,e. Combusting fuels (coal, H2, methane, enthanol, petrol, etc.) in power generators doesn't require any O2. Wheezewort & slicksters being anti-entropy that can invert chaos and create ordered energy out of blue. Plants and molecular forge produce less final product than the sum of starting material inputted. You can find occasions that numbers don't match exactly and stuffs don't make sense if you scrutinize on details. The pwater mystery in CO2 skimmer is a common one. As I played longer, I accepted those "scientific bugs" as they are and convinced myself those approximation greatly simplifies the math, and they're a part of ONI's world construct. You can always make up some explanations & lore to convince yourself. Say the internal electronics of the skimmer heats up significantly and needs water to cool. You can assume the outputted pwater consists of 300g dissolved CO2 and 700g H2O, and the remaining 300g water is spent on cooling the machine. This small portion evaporates to air and increases humidity of the surrounding a bit, but its existence is omitted on gases info tab because it's little.

As long as the numbers and proportions are in a reasonable range that don't mess up the balance, don't be too serious about little inaccuracy. Enjoy the game.   

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