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 takes any conveyor input and output in its side connections, and will transform 1% of the hydrogen going through itself into Deuterium going out of its front connection.
In the UI, the left-hand Hydrogen symbol show the input buffer, and the right-hand symbols are the output buffers.
If a fractionator is being fed by stacked items, it does not unstack output hydrogen. Items get converted individually rather than full stack at once, therefore in case part of the stack gets converted, the hydrogen will be output in stack minus converted items.
Production Progression Chart
Player Tips & Tricks
The Fractionator recipe is unique in the fact that it is based on percentage of materials moving through the Fractionator. This means the Fractionator necessarily needs one input of Hydrogen, and one output of Hydrogen, and another output of Deuterium. It also means that conversion speed is directly proportional to belt speed (1% of belt speed) and saturation rate of the input & output for Hydrogen. Stacked items on the conveyor belt will increase production too.
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] * (1 - (1 - [Initial Saturation Percentage]) ^ [Number of Fractionators] ) = Total Deuterium Production Speed
This equation gives the expected total production of a 100 Fractionator setup on a Conveyor Belt Mk.III loop as 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.