Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ “Lost in Translation” highlights Starfleet’s number one fuel source.
Even Star Trek’s Starfleet needs fuel for their ships. In order to make these monuments of human engineering go at all, least of all the ability to jump to warp, the ships need special engines, aka Warp Drives. But what powers the Warp Drives? Fans largely know that it’s a compound called deuterium, but despite its significance in the Trek canon, we don’t often get a good look at it, how it’s collected, or the significance of it.
Sure, Star Trek: Voyager shows do a good job of highlighting not only its rarity but its importance. In Voyager, due to a lack of developed planets and cultures, it was harder for them to find the substance, forcing them to shut down a lot of conventional Trek concepts, like the replicators. Hence, Neelix’s kitchen.
In Discovery, after jumping to the future, they find out that dilithium is nearly all gone in the entire galaxy. While it’s not the same substance, its use in how a Starfleet ship operates is still significant and further highlights the rarity and importance that these fuel types have in the show’s canon.
How do Starfleet ships collect deuterium?
It’s not always highlighted how things in Star Trek truly work, we’re often told in passing that the ship is collecting these things but very rarely do we see it in action. In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ “Lost in Translation”, we get to see how the Enterprise collects deuterium, and it’s quite impressive.
The Enterprise can acquire deuterium by opening up the nacelles on the ship and sucking in the material almost directly into its warp engines. There’s still a process to make it usable within the ship, but the Enterprise is seemingly implied to be able to treat the deuterium properly so that it can be used safely.