Is it possible to build a Fallout Vault with today's technology?

Discussion in 'General Fallout Discussion' started by oxidize, Sep 27, 2014.

  1. oxidize

    oxidize It Wandered In From the Wastes

    166
    Apr 18, 2012
    In sense that the vault is fully self sufficient and can be a home to at least hundred people for tens of years. Discuss.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014
  2. BigBoss

    BigBoss Your Local Scrub

    956
    Dec 24, 2012
    Hmm. Fully self sufficient, as in you would never need technicians or need to make repairs? No. Even the Vaults in Fallout required people to perform maintenance and technicians to repair things.

    However, if you had all of these things? Of course. As a matter of fact besides the massive generators and computers I don't think the Fallout world did anything we couldn't do if we throw in a ton of money toward it. But yeah, a hundred people would probably be the max, MAYBE 200 at most that a Vault would hold. Which would eventually lead to problems like inbreeding or overpopulation (depending on the birth rate, they would have to maintain a special birthrate to keep the Vault at the ideal population).

    In fact, government's have already built these kinds of things. Our astronauts can survive on space-stations for years at a time before having to go back home. And that's in space. Could you imagine what we could do on our own planet? In fact, back in the 50's through the 60's, the government was already working on a plan to build fallout shelters across the United States with an unnamed (their name hasn't been released to the public) company, or even several companies. They had all the blueprints and plans worked out, and I believe they even built a test model (and then scrapped it to get their supplies back after they performed their tests, and to keep it a secret). The original plan was going to be to build five shelters in every state, each one housing about 50 to 100 people. Unlike Fallout though, there wasn't any kind of "luck of the draw" application process. You had to achieve requirements like having no felonies, having had a useful profession (such as medical, technical, etc.) and only being able to have a certain family size, if any kids at all (among other requirements). Five seats in each Vault were to be reserved for US Congressmen and other important personnel (Governors, Mayors, and State Councilmen were screwed).

    Eventually this plan was scrapped around the time of the Vietnam War, and the funding that was supposed to go into this "shelter program" was instead funneled into the Vietnam War and other Cold War programs. But from what I remember, the US Government figured each shelter would cost about two to five hundred million dollars (which isn't a lot considering their Fallout universe twins, because they were only meant to house about 50 to 100 people each, and they weren't meant to stay in the shelter forever. The shelter was supposed to last twenty years after the supposed nuclear war, since the government believed that would be more than enough time for radiation and nuclear winter (idea was later refuted) to disperse). The government also created several ideas to use work-arounds and cheaper systems for many things (such as air conditioning, generators, and water purifiers) so that the costs on the shelters could be reduced massively, and they would instead create them to just be easily fixable. For example, one of the ideas was to build generators that recharged themselves (which, back in the mid-late fifties to early sixties this idea was pretty damn edge-cutting for technology). Basically, the power would turn off throughout the entire shelter at like 9 o'clock (or 10, I can't remember) except for the vital functions, and the generators would re-charge themselves during that time every night. This was supposed to save a lot of money instead of investing millions upon millions to create a generator that kept going 24/7 and probably would be needed to be maintained all the time. The water purification thing worked a lot like our space stations do now. Every year the shelter would be given a certain amount of water out of it's storage tank, and basically you would drink the same water you used in your toilet (after it was purified, of course), until at the end of the year the water would finally be disposed, and the shelter would start using the next tank of water (this would repeat for the next ten years). When it came to feces, sewage systems were supposed to be just like dumping your shit down into a furnace that they dug underneath the shelter apparently, also. Then every few months they would incinerate it through a massive furnace, and use this as a fuel source I guess, kind of like coal. They were also experimenting with solar power, but I guess decided it was to unreliable.

    I'm not sure how big they were supposed to be, but I'd imagine they would have to be pretty sizeable.

    Also, interesting fact, the Vietnam War costed more than the shelter program would have costed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  3. oxidize

    oxidize It Wandered In From the Wastes

    166
    Apr 18, 2012
    No I mean self-sufficient in sense that you never(tens of years) have to get out of it of course. Of course there would be technicians in the Vault.

    This is interesting, didn't know about this.


    How would this Vault built today get it's water, power, food, etc.? Remember, outside the vault is nuclear apocalypse with too big amounts of radiation for humans to go out.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  4. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Carbon Dated and Proud

    Nov 26, 2007
    If it had plenty of water to start with, and an enclosed air supply, it could extract it from the air and purify it over and over again; along with the sewage system. Basically everyone would be drinking purified sweat and pee.

    Power could come from a battery reserve run by the Gym; with mandated daily workouts.
    And/or... There are already self contained nuclear batteries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_battery

    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Hyperion's_Small-Scale_Nuclear_Reactors


    *Can't help but think of Soylent Green when contemplating this though.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  5. BigBoss

    BigBoss Your Local Scrub

    956
    Dec 24, 2012
    Well, water and power I explained above in my EDIT.

    They would also grow their own food in a hydroponics like areas, and there were even plans to have a small chicken coup for meat and eggs (protein). So they would grow vegetables and fruit for nutrients, and use the chickens for protein.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  6. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Carbon Dated and Proud

    Nov 26, 2007
    Instead of a Pipboy at age ten, you would get a Robco Vasecto-Valve surgically installed, and RF controlled by the Overseer. :twisted:
     
  7. BigBoss

    BigBoss Your Local Scrub

    956
    Dec 24, 2012
    I had one idea where there were two vault experiments where only the Overseer's were allowed to have children. If someone wanted a child they had to come to the Overseer. There would be two different Vault's, one where the Overseer was specifically chosen to be a man, and the other chosen to be a woman. In the one where the overseer was a man, the men had vasectomies, in the one where the Overseer was a woman, all the other women had their tubes tied. This way Vault members could have sex, but if they wanted a child they had to go to the Overseer. Eventually the Overseer would choose which one of his/her children (male or female depending on the Vault) would become the next Overseer, in which all the other children of that sex would be rendered in adept in having children.

    Another idea for a Vault I had would be to test tribal identity. A Vault would be loaded with two-thousand occupants. Then, the Vault would be separated into five "districts". Each district would only dispense a limited amount of resources (food, water, entertainment items, etc.) meanwhile the very first Overseer's (name's changed to Chief ((short for Chieftain)) in this Vault), in which there would be five Overseer's (one of reach district) would constantly feed the members of their Vault's district lies and propaganda about the other districts, aimed at making the people of each district hate all the others. Once the first generation of OVerseer's/Chief's died, it would test to see if this carried on to the next chosen Overseer/Chief, who would not be in on the experiment, and so on. The first Overseer's/Chiefs' would tell their district's inhabitants lies like the other Overseer/Chief was plotting against them to take their district for their resources, and stuff like that. Free interactions between districts, or "tribes" would be allowed in order to study the effect (which districts/tribes fight eachother, make allies, etc. etc.) The Vault is loaded with a minimum of two-thousand occupants to be sure that the experiment can carry on for generations upon generations. Vault members would also be separated into district depending on their previous cultural background (when the Vault's first generation of residents got there) in an attempt to see if cultural hatred arises also.

    The Vault's citizens will all be told that because the Vault does not have enough resources for them to all share as a single community, they will be separated into different communities. This of course, is a lie. The Vault computer (locked away on a hidden level which is being maintained by brain bots) is dispensing limited resources to the many different districts on purpose. The citizens will also be told that after their first Overseer dies, the citizens can pick anyone they want to be an Overseer, and even choose how an Overseer get's picked. Each community is free to govern itself after it's first overseer passes away. This is in order to study whether or not cultural/governing differences in the communities do indeed rise up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  8. Ah-Teen

    Ah-Teen Vault Senior Citizen
    Orderite

    Jun 21, 2007
    There have been experiments in completely enclosed biosystems, however they've all failed in one way or another. But in the case of Vault technology they don't need to be entirely enclosed.

    Groundwater sources are largely protected, the biggest problem with water is the actual radioactive dust which washes away pretty quickly on the surface. Minor filtration systems and water treatment for blackwater would be a pretty simple matter with today's technology. Hell, there are portable blackwater treatment plants here on Kandahar Airfield that have been running continuously for nearly 10 years. They're not much bigger than a connex, and new technologies are making those obsolete.

    As far as interbreeding here's an article from 2002 which sets the population at 160 for a 200 year 10 generation space flight.
    http://www.newscientist.com/article...r-space-pioneers-calculated.html#.VCfUDxb4ISk

    Now add social engineering, genetic engineering, polygamy, artificial insemination and sperm banks. Even if you conceivably could drop that number far lower.

    Food is a tough one but it is possible to create artificially viable farms.
    http://www.weedfarmer.com/cannabis/indoorv1_guide.php
    Weed farms are my favorite example since largely, even where its legal, its kept indoors.
    Hemp itself is an excellent material for many many many many things.

    Air just needs basic filtration to prevent dust particles from entering the system.

    The biggest problem I see is raw materials. Things will wear out, things will break and some things you just can't manufacture or reclaim practically.

    If you place your shelter in a location from which you can mine, that is excellent for gathering raw materials. Better would be able to have an outside presence. Scouts and merchants to be able to gather some of the things the vault just can't provide. Barring that, you're kind of stuck.
     
  9. Yamu

    Yamu Le Fromage Vieux oTO Moderator Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Jul 26, 2003
    I wrote a huge long-winded post earlier that I scrapped until I could get my thoughts a bit more ordered, but I think Ah-Teen said most everything more succinctly-- which leaves me to ramble about the other bits. Wall of text ahoy!

    What you're talking about is entirely feasible, I'd say. People have been building huge, semi-sustainable shelters since the 60s-- Burlington Bunker (in the UK) and Cheyenne Mountain being two examples meant to house populations of a couple thousand for a month or more-- and the tech's come a long way since then. The key's in redundancy and organic design-- layers upon layers upon layers of failsafes, every system contributing to or deriving something from another without being critically tied into it. Ironically enough, a holistic, naturalistic, hippie approach to shelter-building would probably have been of immense aid to the nuke-hawks of the cold war era.

    ***

    Agriculture, as you say, could be achieved with efficient hydroponic and aquaculture farms, which could also be tied into a few of the Vault's life support subsystems-- algae and plankton farms in the water filtration system could help purify water for recirculation and would be happy to drink in as much carbon dioxide as the air filtration systems could dump into them.

    Hemp could be tough to fit in (it's not a thirsty crop compared to other industrial alternatives like cotton, but it does take quite a bit of water compared to more shelter-viable food crops), but it would be worth it. It's not the green miracle the tie-dye set would have you believe it is, but it's pretty damned close, and its uses are too diverse to go into here without making this post a page longer than it already is, but they include a range of materials useful in almost every aspect of daily life. Kelp and algae from the aquaculture farms could serve (or double up on) many of the same functions. Sorghum and Agave are other notable (relatively) non-thirsty plants with a variety of food- and industrial- uses, and every crop mentioned so far can be processed for biofuel and/or produces biological waste that could be decomposed into biogas.

    Meat is a pretty resource-inefficient source of nutrition, but legumes could provide necessary protein. The Vault diet would, of necessity, probably be fairly bland and low in calories, though I'm sure it wouldn't be as bad as the nutri-paste you often see in sci-fi shelter/space situations. A good chef working with a good nutritionist and an agricultural engineer could probably come up with a variety of sustainable ingredients that would leave the Vault's occupants more-or-less satisfied.

    *****

    Energy would have to come from a variety of sources-- again, with everything serving a dual-function where possible to help contribute to the overall whole. Location would be a key question here-- build your shelter in the right spot, and hydroelectric or geothermal power could keep it going indefinitely (or as long as the parts last, anyway). Aside from that, though, there are tons of other places to pick up a few watts here and there. As stated above, biogas from agricultural byproducts and wastewater is a definite possibility, especially if you can wait 50 years or so and let the technology develop a bit more before building your shelter. And as other posters here have pointed out, human-powered generators are an option. They're not the answer in and of themselves-- an hour on a bike-style generator might get you enough energy to run a single 60-watt bulb for the span of an afternoon-- but every bit helps, and they'd be a useful way to keep people fit and occupied. Making as many devices as possible independently human-powered (like the old WWII survival radios) could take a considerable strain off the grid.

    Solar and wind power could keep things going, too-- after all, the postulation here is a vault-style shelter, not a Fallout-style clean-slate apocalypse, and if the surface wasn't scoured clean of all identifying features and your shelter doesn't defeat its own purpose by being located anywhere near a viable war target, your turbine or solar panels should still be in place (and yes, that's turbine, singular-- alternative energy gets a lot of flack for its inadequacy, but that's on a national level. A single wind turbine, on average, generates enough electricity to power over a thousand homes). If we are talking Fallout-made-real, you'd simply have to hide your solar array under a retractable blast shield and only raise it to the surface once the shelter went active. As long as no one nuked your site directly, it would most likely work fine.

    I'm no engineer, but I've got to assume you could find a few places in key flow systems-- air intake and circulation, plumbing and water filtration-- where you could insert a modestly-sized turbine to draw a bit of extra power from the flow. Of course, whatever was pushing the fluids would be what was powering the turbine, so you'd still be operating at a net energy loss, but you might be able to harness some of that power back without noticeably impacting the efficiency of the system you were drawing from with some clever engineering.

    When the draw on the grid was low, some of the excess power being produced could be used to operate air compressors, which would work as a sort of storage battery-- the air would be compressed into a storage volume (which could be an artificial tank or even a carefully prepared and selected underground cavity) and could later be used to operate a scroll pump turbine to feed power back into the system as needed. (And if that sounds like the most wishful hippie sci-fi bit of this whole text wall, you should know that compressed air batteries are already a thing, and they've been developed to the point of commercial viability.

    ****

    The toughest bits would be contingency planning so that you had replacement parts on hand for every situation (and especially for high-wear components and critical ones you can't bypass through redundancy) and managing the human element. The former could be accomplished by sound planning and inventorying, a built-in workshop, raw materials, and a whole lot of storage space (perhaps as much, or more, than that allotted to living space). The latter would be the harder part by far, but that's something for a whole other post.

    Really, the only unfeasible thing would be finding someone to fund it all. Technology as it stands is far enough along to bring things far beyond the mundane into reality; the question is always how much time and money people are willing to throw in, and the answer is usually "not enough."
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  10. BigBoss

    BigBoss Your Local Scrub

    956
    Dec 24, 2012
    Speaking of hydroelectric power, there was also a guy in China (?I believe?) who drew up blue prints to turn a sewage system into a hydroelectric dam, so that they would be saving time and money, and this way could use something they've already created (being the sewage system) to benefit people further (with the hydroelectric dam attached). Say what you will about China and their form of Communism, but they get shit done. Not that I'd want to live there but...

    I'd rather be homeless in the U.S. then housed in China. Unless it was Hong Kong, because most of their Communist restrictions bullshit don't apply.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  11. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Carbon Dated and Proud

    Nov 26, 2007
    I-Saw-That.jpg

    *Or was it unintentional?
     
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  12. TheVaultHunter

    TheVaultHunter First time out of the vault

    13
    Sep 18, 2014
    I do recall there being Fallout shelters in the late 50s and early 60s, although it never looked like the vaults in the games however.
     
  13. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    The issue, as far as I can say, isnt the technology. It's the people. Humans are simply not made for living in a rat-way, underground situation with nothing else but walls around you. It is one of the reasons why so many projects and experiments failed.

    It is simply a very extreme situation for humans, and we can not exist for ever in such a state. So no, I dont think it is really "possible" to create a community like that, not for ever anyway.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2014
  14. Yamu

    Yamu Le Fromage Vieux oTO Moderator Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Jul 26, 2003
    I dunno, Crni. Adapting to survive is sort of humanity's thing, even if the adaptations we have to make are severely psychologically unhealthy or even completely contrary to our natures. I think the state of modern society is proof enough of that. Vault contents, entertainment, schedules, and architecture would all have to be planned to simulate a feeling of open space (and possibly even directly simulate nature in some ways. I.E. aquariums or faux-windows) and to provide the ability to exercise and keep occupied, and the dwellers might have to be pre-conditioned for obedience to central authority and an ideological commitment to the good of the whole, but it could be done. Humanity's already got innumerable partial test cases. Submarines. Arctic research stations. The I.S.S. Even urban student dorms full of shut-in kids who'd just as soon have their windows boarded over to eliminate the glare on their computer monitors have something to show us about the psychology of adapting to-- even embracing-- isolation.

    I still say that it could be done if we had the motivation to throw enough money into it and put our scientific noses to the grindstone. The last full test case for a sealed environment I've ever heard of was Biodome 2, and for our purposes it was a success: they (arguably) managed to keep it closed for two years without having to bring anything but oxygen in from the outside. That was a massive, unfocused venture running multiple biome experiments rather than a focused, purpose-built structure, and the key technologies-- materials engineering, ecosystem engineering, and alternative energies-- have all advanced by leaps and bounds in the last twenty years.And as Ah-Teen points out, a vault isn't meant to be a truly sealed ecosystem, even by the future-perfect sci-fi standards of the first Fallout.
     
  15. Ah-Teen

    Ah-Teen Vault Senior Citizen
    Orderite

    Jun 21, 2007
    It's not a matter of choice. Put simply, all other things not pertaining to survival would be put on hold. There is no other choice except death, slow agonizing death. The problem that will likely happen is that the people inside wont leave when it becomes safe again. A culture radically different from our own would develop with a fear of the outside.

    I'd also say that even a few years afterward radiation will have gone down enough to survive long enough to breed. Sure we'd be back at 30 year average lifespans and die horrible cancerous deaths, but we'd be able to survive.
     
  16. oxidize

    oxidize It Wandered In From the Wastes

    166
    Apr 18, 2012
    We cannot exist forever on the surface either. We all die at some point.
     
  17. oxidize

    oxidize It Wandered In From the Wastes

    166
    Apr 18, 2012
    I think that it all depends on how long would the humans have to wait for the nuclear radiation on the surface to become small enough for them to get out of the Vault. If you put 100 humans in a Vault, of course they would all die sooner or later, probably in 100 years max. But the point of the Vault is to provide a shelter till the surface becomes inhabitable again.
    Which shouldn't take more than 50 years I guess.
     
  18. TheChosen1

    TheChosen1 Moving Target

    Nov 8, 2012
    Why not keep a sperm bank in the vault to avoid inbreeding?
     
  19. RetroAmerica

    RetroAmerica It Wandered In From the Wastes

    196
    Feb 18, 2014
    It's potentially possible to build substantial civil defense bunkers which could be used to house personnel for extended periods of time, however the biggest problem you quickly run into is what in popular culture is referred to as "cabin fever", in which though you could in effect for at least a certain period keep citizenry alive and functioning, the problem you'd begin running into is the psychological effects of having these survivors living in a closed off environment for an extended period of time, and what effects over time it would have of their mental state.

    If memory serves me correctly, the United States Navy ran a series of civil defense bunker drills in the 60's, wherein sailors across all ratings were placed in sustaining bunkers for extended periods of time, and if I remember correctly survival was effective, however quality of life began to degrade as personnel had to live in close quarter conditions with little stimulation.
     
  20. Ceratisa

    Ceratisa Sarcastic SOB

    236
    Nov 4, 2013
    I believe a vault's primary power source was geothermal? Or was that only vault zero. The food processing system was never really defined very well though. Entertainment was provided at vaults because that was part of the grand social experiment.