Nuclear fusion is believed to be a key component of power generation in the Galactica universe. This assertion is based in part on comments made in the Galactica 1980 series. While I, like many Galactica fans, do not consider Galactica 1980 to be "Battlestar Galactica" cannon, some comments made by Capt. Troy and Lt. Dillon in the pilot episode to Professor Mortinson ring a cord. Troy and Dillon tell the good Professor that he had made errors in his nuclear fusion equations. Troy and Dillon also commented that they had studied the mechanics of nuclear fusion aboard the Galactica as part of their training, suggesting this means of power generation was still in use.
Thus, while the events of Galactica 1980 are not cannon, comments made suggest that the creators envisioned (to some reasonable extent) that nuclear fusion was a key means of power generation in the Galactica universe and, given that the episode in which these statements were made was written by series creator Glenn Larson, they are in my opinion creditable.
A toxic byproduct of starship operation was a compound known as Solium. From what was seen in "Battlestar Galactica", Solium was very dangerous and volatile compound. In the pilot, when Starbuck and Boomer heard that Jolly and Apollo were looking for Solium leaks, they immediately turned to leave. Given the dangers NASA has with the use of liquid hydrogen and the infamous Hindenberg disaster, it would appear that this dangerous gas was indeed hydrogen which, obviously if there were leaks, would represent a serious threat to the safely of ship and crew. Consequently Solium IS Hydrogen.
Another compound mentioned which appears to have had it's origins with Solium is the explosive compounds known as Solinite. Again, continuing along the lines that Solium is a form of Hydrogen, explosive Solinite charges were probably analogous to Deuterium fusion bombs, and thus Solinite = Deuterium.
Liquid Deuterium (i.e. Solinite) has a density of 160 kg/m^3 at a temperature of 13.8K.Given the size of the four exterior fuel tanks seen on the Galactica (each with an estimated volume of 140,000 m^3), allowing some leeway for some fuel to be stored internally, the deuterium fuel storage capacity of the Galactica would be approximately 44.6 million kilograms, with a total/maximum potential energy output of 2.7*10^22 joule.
In the universe of Battlestar Galactica many forms of fuel and explosives were mentioned. Primary among these was the fuel source known as Tylium. Tylium was stated as being the Colonial's primary means of generating power in the series' pilot episode, but no explanation as to the exact nature of Tylium was ever offered. After having observed the series, comments made with regards to Tylium and reactors of the Galactica universe, it is my assertion that Tylium is in fact a form of Quantum matterial that appears to be capable of producing a massive energy release, on a scale comparable to matter/antimatter generation, by simply having it's temperature altered within a few 1000 degrees.
Primary basis for this theory stems from the following:
During Galactica's run, Tylium was only found on Carolon, a planet that had been irradiated by, or once had been part of a massive star that went nova, creating the nebula known as "The Nova of Madagon."
Combustible nature of Tylium and it's destructive force are beyond the combustible or fissionable nature of any/all known metallic compounds.
Planet Carolon was completely destroyed by a Tylium explosion in "Saga of a Star World", after the ore was ignited by plasma based weapons fire during the Colonial's escape from the planet.
In the episode "Fire in Space", Galactica was in danger of having her Tylium stores ignited by a fire raging throughout the ship.
Given what was seen in "Saga of a Star World" it would appear that that this rare metallic ore is very, very dangerous and unstable with regards to heat - so unstable in it's raw form that after being ignited the ore in the Carolon mine exploded with enough force to destroy the entire planet. Given the rarity of Tylium and the size of Carolon (obviously the planet was of similar mass to earth given Galactica's crewmen were able to walk on the planet without any discernable discomfort), I believe that Tylium ore must be capable of releasing energy on the same scale as matter/antimatter interaction, via simple combustion. (Not a great theory, but its the only one that fits the available facts.)
Planet Carolon was said to have had a large abundance of raw Tylium, a fact hidden by an expedition sent by Baltar. This is, in all likelihood, due to the fact that Carolon it self was spawned from the solar detonation that created the Nova of Madagon. The Nova of Madagon was not a nova of course, but rather it was a nebula created by a large star that went supernova thousands of years ago. Nova of Madagon is a perilous expanse, the thousands of virgin stars forming in the nebula super heating and irradiating the entire area to a degree few ships can withstand for very long.In my opinion, Carolon was likely spawned from ejectia from the supernova, the planet's Tylium likely a dense fragment from the original star's metallic core that created the Nova of Madagon, combined with the remains what had once been of an orbiting planet. Stellar debris and dust forming around the Tylium fragment and other rocks until it merged with other small bodies of ejectia to became the small, moon sized planet seen in the series pilot.
During the surface battle in the Pilot episode, Starbuck and Apollo ignited several fires with their blasters and managed to escape unharmed. Eventually the fires they ignited caused all the Tylium in the mine to ignite, but given that the exchange of plasma fire between Cylon and Colonial forces did not cause the instant detonation of the Tylium, their weapons must not produce enough heat alone to cause raw Tylium to reach it's catastrophic combustible state. It is likely that the blaster dual caused damage to machinery or ignited other volatile fuels like liquid hydrogen being pumped through, out and into the Oveon's Tylium processing plant. Eventually, as the fires raged out of control the raw Tylium ore and processed ore reached their ultimate combustion point and flash ignited, resulting in the destruction of the entire planet Carolon.
Statements made during this episode suggests that the Ovion Tylium mine on Carolon was the only source of the substance to be found on the planet. As stated at the beginning of this document, Tylium is believed to be a Quantum matterial in that the molecules that make up this substance have been altered on the subatomic level by disastrous galactic events (such as a star going nova or proximity to a black hole) in such a way that the fundamental binding forces of the atom, super strings, have destabilize.
Unstable Quantum matterial such as Tylium have several unique properties. Example, the electrons and protons that make up Tylium can not be exchanged with those of another object, as one might experience with static electricity. Physical state of Tylium cannot be altered easily and, due to the fundamental binding forces of the atoms being unstable on a multidimensional plane, any massive alteration of the movement of Tylium molecules will result in a massive detonation.
Upon the discovery of Tylium, Colonial scientists found that by radically altering the atomic movement within Tylium atoms, specifically via the use of heat, they could produce a massive energy release. An increase in temperature would cause the molecules of Tylium to move about more quickly, just like heated air in a balloon and when the molecules reached a specific state of excited movement the super strings binding the atom together at the subatomic level would completely destabilize and a detonation would occur.
By combining fusion technology with Tylium, Colonial forces were able to follow in the footsteps of the Cylons and abandon matter/antimatter and nuclear fusion as their primary means of power generation for the following reason:
Unlike matter/antimatter reactors, Tylium did not require complex electromagnetic fields (which yielded a poor efficiency of less than 5%), or expensive methods of containment that could easily be breached.
Refined Tylium was stable at temperatures as low as -50° C and as high as 2000° C, which meant it could be stored at room temperature with practically no extraneous containment system, while matter/antimatter required a massive cryogenic super-cooling system to maintain safe storage.
Tylium could be mined off of a planet, leading to the creation of boom towns and driving the industries of exploration and mining forward. Production of matter/antimatter was a negative-result venture, as it required more power to produce an insignificant amount of antimatter, then the potential energy the produced antimatter was capable of generating.
Tylium could be used to produce a massive amount of energy with a minimal amount of resources. matter/antimatter required an extremely complex, inefficient and unreliable M/AM injector system prone to catastrophic system failure.
One of the key problems in using Tylium was the fact that not all Tylium reached detonation at the same temperatures. Tylium from one planet could be ignited at temperatures as low as 2000° C, while Tylium from another planet would require temperatures as high as 20,000° C... it all depended on how close the planetoid was to whatever catastrophic event that created it. Consequently fusion power is often used in conjunction with Tylium. Fusion reactor plasma has a temperature of 5*10^7° K, several thousand degrees above the maximum ignition point of any known grade of Tylium, thus negating this problem.
A Tylium/Fusion reactor most likely consisted of the following three parts and works like this:
Fusion:A nuclear fusion reactor creates power by forcing two separate atomic nuclei to unite into a larger more powerful atomic mass. Resultant energy release created by the marriage of these two atomic masses is a hot, electrically charged ionized gas; a hydrogen based isotope known as deuterium and tritium, more commonly known as plasma.
Tylium:Purified Tylium ore, which is produced by passing the ore through an intense Electromagnetic field (most likely provided by the magnetic coils of the ships ion engines), breaking the Tylium ore down into its base components, effectively removing the impurities and leaving only the Tylium. Concluding purification, the bulk of the remaining compound is pure Tylium. Refined Tylium, which is now in a dense "powder like" form, is then stored within armored, heat resistant storage tanks.
Main Energizer:This is the reactor housing in which plasma and Tylium are introduced. Charged plasma and purified Tylium are pumped into the ship's main energizer. Once injected into the energizer the two compounds come into contact and the hot plasma ignites the Tylium. Magnetic/gravitational matrix, which is essentially a powerful gravitic force field, contains the resulting explosion and the energy released by the explosion is then forced out the Energizer's power distrubition node. Small bits of these two compounds, on the scale of a few grams, produce the massive amount of energy a ship needs to power the vessel and allow it to create artificial gravity, travel at speeds near that of light and jump from one star to another.
One of the problems with the mythical substance known as Tylium, is how much energy this substance is capable of generating. Using the destruction of Carolon as our basis, we can approximate the potential energy in Tylium fuel.
First off, we must estimate how much Tylium it took to destroy Carolon. Carolon had a mass within human tolerance, thus for the sake of argument we will assume that the total mass of Carolon was close to Earth's, approximately 6*10^24 kg.
We have been assuming that Tylium reaction is approximate to matter/antimatter reaction, a means of power generation that would be well within the Colonial's technology range, given their mastery of gravitational technology. Matter/antimatter annihilation produced9*10^16 J/kg.
Same special effects team that created the destruction of Alderan in "Star Wars", produced the destruction of Carolon in "Saga of a Star World", consequently both incidents were extremely similar. Given that the entire planet was destroyed by the explosion of the Ovion Tylium mine, Michael Wong's figures for the destruction of Alderan can be applied to Carolon. Consequently the destructive force needed to destroy Carolon would have been within the range of 1*10^32 joule.
Matter/antimatter reaction has an output of 9*10^16 J/kg and, if Tylium detonation is equivalent to M/AM reaction, then the compound Tylium would have only made up 2.79% of Carolon's total mass. Assuming that Carolon was approximately the same size as Earth, then the planet's mass per meter cubed would have been 6,631.45 kg/m^3 or 185 kg/m^3of Tylium ore. Obviously we don't know the exact density of Tylium, but since this is all guess work with regards to a nonexistent fictional matterial, we will use these rough figures to estimate fuel capacity/output.
Tylium fuel tanks on a Colonial Battlestar have a volume of approximately 140,000 m^3 and at an approximate density of 185 kg/m^3, total Tylium fuel capacity for a Battlestar type vessel would have been roughly 51,583,058.5 kg. Given our estimated potential energy to mass ratio for Tylium the total/maximum Tylium energy output would have been approximately 4.6*10^24 Joule, or 4,642,475 exajoules.
In order for a Tylium reactor to work, any given race attempting to create such a device would need comprehensive knowledge of zero-point energy fields and gravimetric technology. Less advanced races first exploring the use of such a reactor, might be able to make do with an electromagnetic containment matrix.