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The Piezonucleic Lining Project was a pre-War research project of Cambridge Polymer Labs, LLC.

Overview

Initial studies led the research team under Jon's wife, Dr. Ericka Elwood-Woolum, to hypothesize that by taking a known piezoelectric material, lead zirconium titanate (PZT), and properly applying a polymer of gold and lithium hydride might produce the desired effect.[1] Initial tests proved the method is sound. Radioactive energy harvest was 15x higher than contemporary automotive fusion engines. Unfortunately, the ionic excitation in the gold that produced the harvestable electrons also created a build-up of thermal waste. The heat was not substantial from a macro perspective, but due to the low shear modulus, the gold suspension in the nano weave started to break down quickly under extended use. In short, the weave destroyed itself rapidly, making it unsuitable for an extended deployment. The team changed the dosing pattern on the gold to produce thinner strands through the material. The increased surface area would help dissipate the thermal energy, much like a heat sink.[2]

This approach successfully created an efficient material with a lifetime of years, rather than days, at a negligible cost to harvest rate. Unfortunately, the new material was only technically successful: Colonel George Kemp, the military liaison for the project, rejected it out of hand, as the new material shredded under intense use. It was unsuitable for use as power armor lining and the Colonel threatened to pull funding. The team returned to the drawing board.[3] The Great War interrupted progress on the project, as while Elwood locked the team in the laboratory to force them to complete it (thus securing a military extraction team for everyone associated with the project), it was eventually destroyed by a combination of factors, most importantly Wilfred Bergman's deteriorating mental state. The true irony lies in the fact that Wilfred's musings about taking a more oblique angle in getting out inspired Ericka: In order to solve the thermal dissipation problem, the team could attempt to change the dosing pattern so that it would produce nanoholes angled towards the surface. That way, the material might be able to reflect the most direct radioactive particles and trap only those coming in at an oblique angle to the material. It would achieve a lower energy harvest, but the heat dissipation issues would likely be solved.[4]

This came too late to save the research team. During the struggle for control over the facility's system, Bergman locked the team out of the only source of U-238 needed to complete the project. The entire team soon perished as a result of a misguided attempt to force an exit.[5]

References

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