Taking advantage of the high vapor pressure ratio of hydrogen and liquid deuterium at a certain temperature, deuterium is fractionated from liquid hydrogen with a certain separation efficiency. Use a conveyor belt to introduce hydrogen from one side, after fractional distillation, export from the other side, and export the deuterium from the front port.
The Fractionator is a unique facility with 3 conveyor belt ports. The input requires Hydrogen, and one of the outputs will return that Hydrogen. However, 1% of the Hydrogen that is processed will instead be transformed into Deuterium and returned by the second output.
Each port of the Fractionator has its own purpose, but they are not labeled in-game. To figure out which port is which, orient the Fractionator such that the middle port is facing Icarus. The middle port is the Deuterium output, the left port is the Hydrogen input, and the right port is the Hydrogen output.
If a Fractionator receives stacked Hydrogen as input, the output Hydrogen is stacked in the same way. Hydrogen is converted individually rather than per stack, so any Hydrogen that is converted into Deuterium is simply removed from the Hydrogen stack.
Production Progression Chart
Player Tips & Tricks
The Fractionator is unique in that the amount of Deuterium produced is a percentage of the Hydrogen input. This means that the rate of Deuterium conversion is directly proportional to the conveyor belt's speed (1% of belt speed), how saturated the Hydrogen input and outputs are, and how high the Hydrogen input is stacked.
Belt Speed * 0.01 * Saturation Percentage * Stack Size = Deuterium Production Speed
Production rates for a single Fractionator with fully saturated input belt:
Stack Size 1
Stack Size 2
Stack Size 3
Stack Size 4
It is useful to build Fractionators in a conveyor loop, with one entry point for Hydrogen. This allows cycling of Hydrogen already on the belt for further conversion to Deuterium, requiring only the replacement of Hydrogen that was converted.
Any conveyor loop that is fully saturated with Hydrogen, for any type of Conveyor Belt, can serve up to 100 Fractionators at a time.
Note, however, that Fractionators necessarily desaturate the loop, albeit at a low rate, so with a single entry point of Hydrogen, there is approximately a 1% loss per fractionator, which cascades to further Fractionators along the loop.
e.g. if there are 10 Fractionators on a Conveyor Belt Mk.III loop, the first will operate at 100% efficiency, processing 0.3 deuterium/s. The second will operate at ~99% efficiency, as the conveyor belt is ~99% saturated, while the third will operate at 98% efficiency due to desaturation by previous fractionators on the loop.
The total expected output of such a Fractionator setup can be calculated using the following amended equation: [Belt Speed] * [Stack Size] * ([Initial Saturation Percentage] - (0.99 ^ [Number of Fractionators])) = [Total Deuterium Production Speed]
This equation gives the expected total production of a 100 Fractionator setup on a Stack-1 Conveyor Belt Mk.III loop, starting at 100% saturation as 30 * 1 * (100% - (0.99 ^ 100) = 19.019 Deuterium/second, or a system conversion rate of 63.4%
As a result, having multiple entry points in the conveyor loop for Hydrogen to replenish saturation, or multiple conveyor loops is recommended.
In order to prevent product stacking, the inflowing Hydrogen conveyor must be joined to the conveyor loop in either T-shape or via Splitter with the returning Hydrogen input set as prioritized.
When used with stacked cargo, the cargo must be de-stacked into the individual items before connecting the inflowing belts, and then assembled back, in order to provide the constant flow rate. The inflowing belts must also carry individual items.
Example: when passing through 4-stacks of Hydrogen, it must be de-stacked into 4 belts carrying individual items. Each of these belts should be connected with an inflowing belt also carrying individual items, and then assembled back into 4-stacks.
Proliferating Hydrogen increases the Fractionator's conversion rate by the Proliferator's Production Speedup bonus, also applying the Energy Consumption penalty. Passing through the Fractionator does not remove the Proliferator marks from the Hydrogen unless it gets converted.
The energy consumption of a Fractionator depends on the Deuterium output (or equivalently the Hydrogen Input) for Deuterium output rates below or equal to 18/m (full Mk. III Belt with Stack Size 1) the base energy consumption of 720 kW is independent of the output rate as long as it is non-zero. For Deuterium output rates above 18/min the energy consumption is given by 0.06*([Deuterium/m]-6) MW. For example a Fractionator running on a fully stacked Mk. III Belt with 72 Deuterium/m consumes 3.96 MW. When using Proliferators for Production Speedup bonus the energy consumption rate is increased as usual (20%, 70% and 150% increase when using Mk. I, II., or III. Proliferator respectively). Thus the maximal energy consumption of a single Fractionator is 9.9 MW while producing 144 Deuterium/m on a fully stacked Mk. III belt of Mk. III proliferated Hydrogen.
At endgame, max throughput for a line of N fractionators processing 7200 stacked, proliferated hydrogen/minute is 7200 * (1 - 0.98 ** N). 14 fractionators in a line will yield an average 1773 deuterium / minute, not quite saturating an output belt. Alternately 2 lines of 6 fractionators on either side of a single output belt will yield 1643/m.