Quantum Gravitic Reactor
One of the key problems for spaceship construction, perhaps
the key problem, is that of propulsion. The simple axiom,
"Every action requires an equal, but opposite,
reaction" has limited spaceship designers to traditional
(but highly efficient) variations of rockets. While the
efficiency might vary from species to species throughout known
space, for the most part, with only a few exceptions, some form
of rocket is the only form of propulsion available.
However, Federation scientists recently discovered, there are some exceptions to this rule: Shortly after developing the Quantum / Graimetric reactor they discovered a process to break the limitation upon rocket-like Impulse thrusters, to enable their craft acceleration and maneuverability that others are incapable of copying. Key to their new and superior understanding of how to manipulate, on a macro as opposed to quantum level, the special characteristics of the Zero Point Field (ZPF), also known as a Lorentz Field.
Possibly explained as a three dimensional representation of the dimensional objects known as 'superstrings', believed to be the key building blocks of both matter and energy in our universe, the ZPF is essentially a 'leakage', on the quantum scale, of energy in process of being translated into this reality. Normally, this leakage involves the creation and dissipation of energy such that the result is an almost zero increase of energy. However, it is possible to use the potential of the ZPF as a power source of enormous implications. As the 20th century Cal Tech physicist Richard Feynman once theorized, the energy inherent in the space defined by a single coffee cup- anywhere in the universe- is enough to boil all of the oceans on planet Earth.
There are other implications of the ZPF field in addition to that of an enormous power source. In addition, it has been discovered that inertia- the propensity of an object when at rest to stay at rest, and when in motion to stay in motion, is a manifestation of that objects electromagnetic interaction with the ZPF. Thus, both gravity and a lowering of inertia are both capable of being manipulated through the use of controlling the electric interaction with the ZPF.
Thus Federation ships would not only be capable of gravity control, but also lowering of the inertia of a vessel in a new revoltionary way. Then propelling through 'pushing' against the ZPF- allowing for both greater acceleration and maneuverability, without violating the Conservation of momentum.
In addition, the ability to 'tap' into the power inherent in space, through the ZPF, allows for these species to draw enormous power reserves without the requirement of prohibitively numerous fusion power plants, such as those on older Federation, Romulan, and Klingon vessels. The ability to generate and carry a power plants capable of generating at LEAST two orders of magnitude more power in wattage of the Sovereign class ships in the hull of a vessel the size of the Defiant class ships (which are several times smaller in both mass and volume) allow the Federation to now dramatically increase both the maneuverability of their vessels and the 'punch'-or power output- of their weapon systems.
This system uses a complex series of graviton beams to mimic the destructive power of a black hole on a local scale, creating an artificial quantum singularity. This self sustaining reactor system destroys all matter introduced into the singularity, creating a 100% energy release. Efficiency of a given ship to exploit this energy release varies. Process begins with a series of high-energy fusion reactors, which are used to manipulate zero-point energy to mimic gravity and create the singularity. Once the singularity is formed, any and all matter introduced into the reactor is destroyed, creating a massive energy release.
As any form of matter can be used as fuel for the singularity, this form of reactor has a near infinite run time - so long as there is matter to be used as fuel, the Quantum/Gravitic reactor will continue to produce power. In addition, a key byproduct of this form of reaction is antimatter, which can be used both as a weapon or a secondary power source. The key advantage of the Quantum/Gravitic reactor over a matter/antimatter reactor is system is efficiency and stability. The Quantum/Gravitic reactor only uses half the fuel of an antimatter based system and, unlike a matter/antimatter reactor, should this form of reactor breech the singularity will simply collapse with almost no adverse effects. Once the singularity is shut down all form of mass compression will cease and energy production stops almost instantaneously.