Getting Started (Thermal Expansion 4)
- This page was originally created by Darthvader456.
- 1 Thermal Expansion 4 for Newbies
- 2 Let's kick this up a notch
- 3 We need to construct additional power
- 4 Melt all the things
Thermal Expansion 4 for Newbies
(A reference guide for the rest of us). Thermal Expansion 4 is out, and things have changed since TE3. Here's what you should know to get started.
Like most tech mods, you need resources. After all, you can't craft machines out of dirt and cobble! Here is a quick laundry list of materials you'll likely need to get started:
Iron Ingots. About a stack really to get started, but more is always better.
Gold Ingots. Yes, Machine Frames need gold. So do Redstone Reception Coils. And the Electrum in Conductance Coils also need gold. So I'd say at least a dozen or so, if not a half stack.
Copper. Your first Dynamos will require a lot of Copper. A full stack is recommended.
Tin. Tin is used in several things. At least a half stack of Tin Ingots is recommended.
Silver. Just a few ingots should do to get started, mostly to be used for Electrum and some Transmission Coils for your Dynamos.
Glass. I mention this because if you are stuck in a plains or mountainous region, you might not have much sand available to you, and you're going to need at least a stack or so of Glass to really get anywhere in this mod.
Redstone. You're going to need some Redstone for most of your machines, as well as a few Pistons and such. When you get to fluxducts, however, your redstone consumption will go way up. Have a stack to get started.
Ferrous. If you have some, do not process it! No, seriously, there will be a very specific way to process this ore. For Ferrous Ingots or the Pulverized version, run Iron through a Pulverizer.
Lead. You're actually going to need some to start you off. Probably a half stack or so. Lead is used in the Tier 1 power fluxducts, which are in turn used to make the Tier 2 fluxducts. They are also used in the lower-tier Energy Cells as well.
Clay. You'll need two brick blocks from clay to make one of your early machines.
No diamonds are going to be needed in the early tiers of this mod, however they will be necessary for higher tiers.
You got the touch. You got the POWAH
- Main article: Steam Dynamo
Right, so to use machines that need power, you need to start generating it. In Thermal Expansion 4, the power generation machines are called Dynamos. Look them up in NEI, and you'll see there are four of them: Steam, Magmatic, Compression, and Reactant. Since Magmatic requires Invar to make, Reactant requires materials we don't have access to yet, and Compression requires liquid fuels which are probably unobtainable at the very beginning, we'll start with the Steam Dynamo.
You'll notice this eats up quite a bit of Copper to make. That Redstone Transmission Coil requires a silver ingot as well. Okay, so what does this thing run on? Well, it runs on Steam. Which means, at this point, you need some form of solid fuel and water to boil. But let's put it down for a moment and look in the GUI.
You'll notice a liquid bar on either side, a slot for solid fuel, and a bar labeled 'RF' in the middle. RF stands for Redstone Flux, and is the unit of measurement for the energy that Thermal Expansion uses. No longer on the Minecraft Joules (MJ) Standard (although it readily converts to MJ at a 10:1 ratio, converting it back into RF is currently impossible), RF is what is used to power all TE machines that require power. You'll also notice some icons on either side. Let's discuss these for a moment.
First is the "information" tab. Clicking on it will bring up some useful information about the block. One of the most overlooked parts of this mod is mentioned in the last paragraph: "Generation rate varies according to energy demand." What this means is "If you don't need the energy, it won't waste your fuel trying to produce it," which is amazing and one of the reasons I like this mod so much. It won't quite shut down, but it WILL drop to about a tenth of the production, and fuel consumption. This is very handy.
Beneath that is the tutorial button. Basically, it'll generally give tips, not unlike what I'm doing here.
On the other side on the top is the RF Indicator. You'll notice it currently says 0 RF/t being generated, and a theoretical maximum of 80 RF/t and 0 RF stored. Yes, it will store a small amount of RF internally, but I wouldn't really rely on it too much. How much energy it is storing will determine how much it throttles power output.
Beneath that is the Redstone Control button. You'll see three buttons in the popout window. The redstone dust icon means it ignores nearby redstone signals and just works nonstop no matter what. The unlit redstone torch symbol means it will run unless it is given a redstone signal, which will then turn it off. The lit redstone torch means that the Dynamo will require a redstone signal to turn on and run, just like most of the engines from Buildcraft and similar mods.
That last one is actually pretty important, because a compact base design can have redstone signals flying all over the place, and this lets you either ignore them, or turn on/off based on what signals are flying around. So say your energy storage emits a redstone signal when full, which can then turn off the Dynamos. You can do that, no problem.
- Main article: Aqueous Accumulator
Right, so that's the GUI. But we need solid fuel and water. Solid fuel isn't a big problem, coal or charcoal works just fine. Setting up a renewable source of water isn't too hard, just a couple of well-placed buckets of water will work. However, automatically getting that water into the engine will require another machine, this time the Aqueous Accumulator.
- How do you know if a machine requires power, makes power, or doesn't care about power?
- If it requires a Redstone Reception Coil, it requires power. If it requires a redstone Transmission Coil, it produces power. If it requires a Pneumatic Servo, it doesn't need power.
So what does it do? Well, if it has a water source block on at least two sides, it will constantly output water. More than enough to keep up with our Steam Dynamo. Go ahead and put it down (I generally dig a 1 x 3 trench, with the AA in the middle and the water on the sides), and put the Dynamo directly on top of it. Notice how the water automatically gets put in the dynamo without needing any pipes? Yea, TE3 is just cool like that. However, let's check out that GUI of the AA first, there's something important here I want to show you.
You see that green button with the cog? That's what I'm talking about. You'll notice that on each of the five sides of the AA that isn't the face, there's an orange mark. You'll also notice that on the outside of the machine, the sides are similarly marked. Now, click one of those orange sides, and the orange mark vanishes. You'll note that it does the same thing on the machine itself. An orange slot denotes automatic output, and that it is orange on all five sides denotes that it will output its inventory (water) to any of the five non-face sides. Clicking on the various faces will turn off connectivity on that side. This is oriented from the 'face' itself, rather than any absolute cardinal direction. The spot in the corner denotes the 'back' (i.e. the opposite side from the face). Right now, the only face you really need to leave orange is the top slot (the one above the face) to feed the dynamo, so you can leave the others however you want.
- Main article: Leadstone Fluxduct
So, now we have everything we need to produce power. Now all we need is some way to transmit it and something that will use it. Having an energy storage buffer probably wouldn't hurt either.
Let's start with the energy transmission. For this, we're going to need some Lead, some Redstone, and a bit of Glass. We'll be making Leadstone Fluxducts.
If you hold the "Shift" key down while hovering over it with the mouse, you will note that it can transmit up to 80 RF/t, and our dynamo can produce 80, meaning it can handle the output of our Dynamo. That's enough to get us started.
You won't need much of this stuff; hopefully we'll be building pretty compact. However, we're not going to be wasting the Leadstone Fluxducts, they're actually used as a component in the next tier of Fluxduct, so they won't become obsolete. Now that is good mod design! Just four ought to do it.
The energy cell is a bit out of our league at the moment. It requires Electrum, and we have no way of producing it... yet. That's our next step, building machines that actually use this RF.
Setting up your ore processing manufactory
- Main article: Pulverizer
The first machine that uses this RF that we are going to build is the Pulverizer. It's not too expensive, it requires a couple pieces of Flint, a couple of Copper Gear, a Piston, another Machine Frame, and a Redstone Reception Coil.
Also, about now, you're probably going to want to rotate your Dynamo. For that, we build a Crescent Hammer! It's three Iron Ingots and one Tin Ingot.
Now you can rotate all kinds of things, and has a lot of extra utility going forward. For example, shift right-clicking on any Fluxduct will instantly remove it. It'll do the same for an Energy Cell which will keep all RF stored in it for when you drop it back down later. It's a really handy tool to have around.
So, place down two Leadstone Fluxducts (trust me on this, it's important for later on) and put the Pulverizer on the end of the line. Now it's filling up with power. In fact, check out the GUI, and we'll note on the Energy tab that it requires a maximum of 40 RF/t to process. That's... currently half of what we are producing! But don't panic... there's another really good thing about Thermal Expansion machines that I want to touch on.
If you don't have enough power to fully power each machine, they will self-throttle to the amount of RF you -can- give them. So while your machines might run slower than their maximum speed, they'll still at least run some, even when underpowered. Besides, we'll solve this problem in a bit.
Now then, you'll also notice the redstone signal tab and the configuration tabs which you should be familiar with by now, but this machine has four potential colors: blue, red, yellow, and orange. Blue is Input, red is 'primary output', yellow is 'secondary output' and Orange is 'both primary and secondary output'. Wait... primary and secondary output?
When you pulverize ores, some of them have a 10% chance of giving you "pulverized bonus ore". For example, pulverizing Iron Ore gives a 10% chance of netting a bonus Pulverized Ferrous Metal. The "primary" output is red. That's going to be the two pulverized iron. The yellow is the 'secondary' output, which would be the Pulverized Ferrous Metal. Orange would be both of them. We'll be utilizing some of these mechanics in a bit, but for now, let's stick to the basics.
It can automatically accept input from any blue side and it will automatically eject into any inventory, Fluxduct, tube, or other such thing connected to a red, yellow, or orange side. So if you have, say, a Hopper attached to a blue side, and a chest on the orange side, you put your ores into the hopper, and it will automatically spit out the pulverized metals, both primary and secondary, into the chest!
Oh, but it doesn't stop there, my friend, you haven't seen anything yet! But right now, I want to set up that energy buffer I was talking about earlier. We will be using the Leadstone Energy Cell. You will notice that it is three Copper Ingots, a Leadstone Energy Cell Frame, and a Redstone Conductance Coil, which requires Electrum.
Wait... Electrum? What'choo talkin' bout, Willis?
Now we get to talk about metal alloys. There's two alloys we'll be working with shortly: Electrum and Invar. There's others, but they are later on down the tech tree. Clicking on the Electrum Ingot to bring up NEI recipes isn't too helpful. There's the always present 9x nugget = 1x ingot and the 1x block = 9x ingots recipes, then there's a recipe involving something called the Induction Smelter which we haven't covered yet, and smelting up the Electrum Blend.
Wait a second... Electrum Blend? You mean you have to blend something together to get it? BINGO! Give the man a cigar! Click on the Electrum Blend, and you'll see it is equal parts pulverized gold and silver. And we just so happen to have a machine that pulverizes metals, how handy!
Leadstone Energy Cell
- Main article: Leadstone Energy Cell
Now, let's go back to that recipe for the Leadstone Energy Cell. You'll notice the Leadstone Energy Cell Frame. Let's see what that requires. Well, as one might expect from the name, it requires Lead, and a Redstone Block, and some Glass. So, make yourself some of that electrum blend, smelt it up in a furnace, and craft it!
Now then, you know how I told you earlier to use two Leadstone Fluxducts to connect up your Pulverizer? Now I want you to shift right-click the one directly adjacent to the Dynamo and place the Leadstone Energy Cell in its place. Make sure to do so from the side, so neither the Leadstone Fluxduct nor the Dynamo are touching the front face. Now click on it and bring up the GUI.
You'll notice that you can throttle input and output here if you want, which does have uses later on, and that you've got a configuration tab. Click on it, and you'll notice you can have the cell sides set to blue, orange, or yellow. Blue is for power input, orange is for power output, and yellow is the 'blank' side for 'no connection at all'. So set the side pointing to the dynamo to blue, the side pointing to the Leadstone fluxduct to orange, and you'll notice that... not a whole lot is happening until your Pulverizer is done. You see, you have exactly 40 RF going in, and exactly 40 RF being used by the Pulverizer, so there's no energy storage in the cell yet. But once you get done with using the pulverizer, it will start filling up the energy cell. Pretty handy, and exceedingly useful for being able to be used 'in-line' like that.
- Main article: Redstone Furnace
The next machine we want to build is going to be the Redstone Furnace. Yeah, remember back in the first section that you were gonna need some Clay? Well, here's where it goes. Two Brick blocks, two Copper Gears, a Redstone Reception Coil, the inevitable Machine Frame, and a piece of Redstone. Not too hard.
Now then, placement... I want you to put it directly underneath your Pulverizer for the purpose of the tutorial. Trust me, I'm going somewhere with this. Hook up the Furnace in the back from the Fluxducts going to both the Pulverizer and the Energy Cell.
You will notice when you click on the energy tab that it requires 20 RF/t to run, or half as much as the Pulverizer does. It also only has two colors of side other than blank: blue and orange. As before, blue is input, orange is output. Now, go to your Pulverizer and set the bottom to orange, then go to your furnace and set the top to blue. Notice how output is now automatically going down into your furnace? Awesome! Now, put a chest directly to the right of the furnace, and set that side of the furnace to orange. Now you have raw ores being put into the hopper, and ingots going straight into the chest!
And now for something completely different... sort of
While we are at it, let's talk about some of the other machines you can create right now. It's assumed in this tutorial that you haven't build them yet, but since I figure this is handy reference material, I will go ahead and tell you what most of those other machines do.
- You can build yourself a Sawmill. It produces six planks per wood, so a net 50% increase. It needs a Machine Frame, an Iron Axe, a couple of wood planks, a couple of Copper Gears, and that Redstone Reception Coil, which means it also needs power. This doesn't throw anything at you that you haven't seen before. It'll also produce Sawdust for you, which can be compressed and smelted into Charcoal.
- The Fluid Transposer can load or unload liquids into containers. The good thing about this is that it doesn't destroy the container in the process. The bad thing is that this does require power. It'll be extremely handy in the next section, but for now it's just a bit of utility.
- The Glacial Precipitator takes in Water and can crank out snowballs, snow blocks, or ice blocks. It requires power to run.
- The Igneous Extruder is a surprisingly useful block which requires both Water and Lava to use properly. It can function as a Cobblestone generator indefinitely, requiring any amount of water and lava, but not consuming either. It has less lag than conventional vanilla cobblegen tactics, and it can automatically output by using the orange side. It can also accept liquids piped in on blue sides. It can also crank out smooth Stone instead of Cobblestone, and does not consume lava to do it anymore; it just needs a bucket. It will consume one bucket of water per smooth Stone, so hook it up to an Aqueous Accumulator. It can also produce Obsidian, which can be extremely useful, but requires a full Lava Bucket and a full Water Bucket per Obsidian block. This will be an instrumental part of the next stage of our tech tree. Immediately, however, it means you can crank out tons of Stone to turn into grey bricks or whatever you want to chisel them into to make a really dwarfy looking abode.
- There's also a Strongbox you can craft now. It's just a chest surrounded by four Tin Ingots. These guys are kinda like Iron Chests type stuff, but with an added advantage: Shift right-clicking with the Crescent Hammer pops them out and into your pocket... but they keep their entire inventory with them! You can even upgrade it and it should keep the inventory. Make sure you use a vanilla Crafting Table or the Machinist's Workbench when you do this. I make no promises that any other form of crafting will retain inventory.
- Wait... what's a Machinst's workbench? Well, looking that up, you'll note it requires a Strongbox to make, as well as a piece of Paper , a couple of Iron Ingots, and a Crafting Table. It's the direct upgrade, and very close to the old-school RedPower 2 Assembly Table, if you were around back then. Basically, it's got its own inventory you can leave stuff in, and the top half is rather interesting as well. There's three empty slots with some scroll-looking shadow in them and a couple of extra buttons. Those three slots are for Schematics, which require Lapis Lazuli and Paper, and will store your recipes for later use. You'll also note that clicking on the crafting square doesn't put items in the square itself, just marks that space with that item. Clicking that top button on the other side will clear the crafting square. The other button is used to write recipes to schematics. Click on it and the selected blank schematic will be written with the recipe you've got in the crafting grid. You'll also note that if you don't have a resource needed for the recipe in the workbench's inventory, it will have a subtle red background. However, it doesn't have a configuration tab, and it can't accept or spit out items. For that, we go to the next item on the agenda.
- The Cyclic Assembler is how Thermal Expansion 4 handles auto-crafting. You will notice the schematic slot as well as blue input and orange output slots. You'll also notice a schematic button on the side. If you put a blank schematic in the schematic slot, put in a recipe in that crafting grid that pops open, then click on the check mark, it will write that recipe to the blank schematic and start churning it out from the inventory it has! Also note that it has a liquid container it can use to craft items that require liquids.
- The Energetic Infuser requires a Redstone Transmission Coil, but it doesn't actually produce power itself. What it does, however, is charge any items which can be charged with RF. This works out very well with tools from Redstone Arsenal, and there's also a Modifier for Tinkers' Construct tools to run off of RF as well. However, because it does transmit power and charge things up, it requires a Transmission Coil.
- The next utility machine is the Autonomous Activator. It can accept an item and will then attempt to use that item. For a block like cobblestone, it will place it down. You can also customize in the GUI what sort of clicking you want to do with the item. And of course, since it has a Servo rather than a Reception Coil, it doesn't need any power.
- The Terrain Smasher is a good ol' block breaker, which will attempt to break any block adjacent to the blue face, and spit it out the orange face. Since it has that Servo, you know it won't need any power to do so.
- The last machine we'll be talking about here is the Nullifier. In effect, it's a trash can. Anything that goes into the Nullifier is immediately and permanently destroyed. Similar in concept to the Trash Can, the Void Chest/Pipe, and anything else that is designed to keep your world from being cluttered by worthless stuff.
Let's kick this up a notch
Okay, so you've got the Pulverizer, which is pretty cool, and you've got the Redstone Furnace, which is kinda neat, and some other toys which have their uses, but you're really kinda throttled on power, and while this has been pretty cool so far, you're really not all that impressed yet.
That's okay, we just needed to set up some infrastructure to get to the next stage. Now, let's talk about Invar. We already went over alloys and blending previously, so this isn't going to be anything new. It'll require two Pulverized Iron and one Pulverized Ferrous Metal to make three Invar Blend. We're going to be needing this stuff quite a bit here in the near future.
I want you to check out the Induction Smelter. It's going to need two Invar Gears, a Bucket, a Machine Frame, a Redstone Reception Coil, and a couple of Copper Ingots. When you are done, put it to the right of your Pulverizer, right over that chest that is holding the ores. Go ahead and upgrade that chest to a Strongbox if you haven't yet.
The Induction Smelter can be created with the following crafting recipe.
The Strongbox can be created with the following crafting recipe.
You'll note some interesting things about the Induction Smelter. First off, it has two inputs. Secondly, it has two outputs. Thirdly, it requires 40RF to run at full speed. To process metals, it is going to need a flux material, generally Sand.
Now, this baby is a speed demon, and has some utility as well. How fast? Well, let's do some math here.
A Redstone Furnace requires 20 RF/t to run at max capacity, and requires 1600 RF to smelt a pulverized ore into an ingot. Doing some math, that means it takes 80 ticks, or 4 seconds.
A Pulverizer requires 40 RF/t to run at max capacity, and requires 4,000 RF to pulverize an ore into a pulverized ore. Doing the math, that means 100 ticks or about 5 seconds. However, it produces two outputs, possibly three, meaning the Redstone Furnace is not going to be able to keep up with the smelting from one Pulverizer.
An Induction Smelter, however, runs at 40 RF/t but only needs 800 RF to process two Pulverized Ores into their respective ingots. With the math there, it means it can process two ingots every second!
In other words, an Induction Smelter can handle up to five pulverizers going simultaneously with no problem.
Of course, if you want to just use the Induction Smelter straight, it can process raw ore into two ingots directly, it'll take 3200 RF or back to that 4 second mark, for two ingots. So it's definitely faster to have a series of Pulverizers feeding an Induction Smelter. However, feeding raw ores into the Induction Smelter doesn't generate that chance of the bonus pulverized ore, although it does have a 5% chance to create Rich Slag, which can be used instead of Sand as the flux. It's also a bit cheaper overall on the RF, as it'll cost 4,800 RF to pulverize then induction smelt ores, but only 3,200 RF to process straight through the Smelter. In other words, our power usage goes way up for the multiple Pulverizer solution, but so does our speed.
Now then, that Rich Slag, when used in place of Sand, can be used as flux for ores only (not pulverized metal) to triple output. So it might be worth it for you to send, say, Gold straight to the Induction Smelter, since it doesn't have a secondary output.
There's also Pyrotheum Dust, made with blaze powder, pulverized coal, and redstone dust. Using that as a flux material for ore processing gives a 15% chance of Rich Slag instead of 5%, tripling your chances, but very expensive unless you manage to have a blaze farm set up. It's used for something else as well, but we'll get to that later on.
Then there's Cinnabar. There's only one way to get Cinnabar: pulverizing Redstone Ore (means you need a Silk Touch pick!) gives you a 25% chance of creating one. Oh, and it generates a whopping 6 redstone dust as well. However, this amazing stuff not only guarantees a triple output, but also guarantees a 100% chance of a secondary output! Exceedingly handy for trying to get Shiny Metal Dust out of Ferrous Ore.
But wait, there's more!
The Induction Smelter also lets you create alloy ingots without needing to pulverize first! Put a gold ingot in one slot, a silver ingot in the other slot, and instant Electrum! Same goes with 2 Iron Ingots in one slot and 1 Ferrous Ingot in the other slot to get 3 Invar Ingots.
There is also Hardened Glass. This stuff is required in a lot of structures and machines in the next tier: It's needed in Itemducts, Liquiducts, Redstone Energy Fluxduct (which, frankly, is massive overkill right now), and most of the frames needed for the next tier. It requires 8 Pulverized Obsidian, so crank up your Igneous Extruder, hook up a lava pipe and an Aqueous Accumulator, set phasers to Obsidian, run the result through the Pulverizer, and combine with Lead!
Putting it all together now
For the purposes of the tutorial, here's what we are going to do. You need to build an additional Pulverizer and an Igneous Extruder. Create the Igneous Extruder with the following recipe.
Put the new Pulverizer opposite the one you've already got working on ores, with output set to go into the induction smelter, and input from above. Then put the Igneous Extruder into "cobblegen" mode on top and have the output sent down into the Pulverizer. This will make Sand with a small chance for Gravel as a secondary product. Now set up the Induction Smelter so that one input comes from the ore Pulverizer (Let's say Purple), and the other input (let's say Green) comes from the primary output(red dot on the side) from the Sand Pulverizer.
Now set the Ore Pulverizer to output Red on the right face, to send it into the Induction Smelter, and Yellow to output down into the Redstone Furnace.
Here's what is going on in your new multiblock ore processing machine:
- Ore comes in through the Hopper on the Ore Pulverizer. Cobblestone comes in through the Igneous Extruder to the Sand Pulverizer.
- Ore is pulverized into pulverized ore. The two primary outputs are sent to the induction smelter. Any bonus pulverized ores are fed down into the furnace.
- Sand Pulverizer turns Cobblestone into sand, then feeds that into the Induction Smelter to provide flux to turn the two pulverized metal into two ingots.
- The Induction Smelter ejects its products down into the strongbox and the Redstone Furnace ejects its products into a side face of the Strongbox.
- By the way, if you need to run several batches of Hardened Glass, you can hook up the Igneous Extruder to a Lava Pipe and an Aqueous Accumulator, causing the Sand Pulverizer to become an Obsidian Pulverizer, and you feed the other Pulverizer Lead Ore. Automated hardened glass production using the same infrastructure!
In other words, you just sped up your ore processing capability. Significantly. And you can expand upon this quite readily. However, for now, we've got ourselves a kind of a hitch...
We need to construct additional power
Okay, now you've probably done a bit of math, and gone "lets see, 40 RF for the Pulverizer, times two, plus 20RF for the Furnace, and another 40RF for the Smelter... that's 140 RF/t at maximum capacity, but my Leadstone fluxducts can only handle 80! Even if I were able to output that much, maybe use four or so Dynamos, the lines themselves are now choking me!"
And you'd be absolutely right. That's why we need a bit more Invar for some Hardened Fluxducts. Three Leadstone Energy Fluxducts, two Invar Ingots, and three Redstone make three Hardened Energy Fluxducts with a throughput of 400 RF/t! Any Leadstone Fluxducts we can't upgrade can be pulverized to retrieve Lead and Redstone.
There are two available recipes for Hardened Fluxducts.
But wait, won't the Leadstone Energy Cell also be throttling my output, even if I did have enough RF production? Absolutely. That's why we are going to make the Hardened Energy Cell! While holding a Wrench, shift right-click your current Leadstone Energy Cell to dismantle it, put four Invar Ingots around it, and now you've got your brand new shiny Hardened Energy Cell, with a maximum throughput of 400 RF/t! Note the increased energy capacity as well.
Now how do we power it?
Well, now that we have Invar, if we have Nether access (and if we don't, we're going to need it for the next step anyways), and a means of transporting liquids across dimensions (which we can't quite do yet from within this mod), we can start pumping out Lava from the Nether and using some Magmatic Dynamos. We could also make some liquid fuel and put it in the Compression Dynamo, as long as we also recall to keep it full of some sort of coolant. However, all of the dynamos produce the same 40 RF/t output. The difference is how long it keeps pumping. You see, Thermal Expansion 4 has a slightly different outlook on how energy flow should work. Let me see if I can explain it.
BuildCraft expects you to produce at least as much MJ/t as your peak demand requires, to ensure none of your machines are not fully powered, and that any power which is produced and not used is just lost. To help with this, they have gates that have a trigger for 'needs power -> redstone signal' to turn engines on and off as power demands.
Thermal Expansion, on the other hand, provides you with copious quantities of energy storage, and expects you to use it. You see, if you kept your Dynamo going to recharge your Energy Cell during non-peak time, then during peak times, you can draw from that energy reserve, maintaining full power during those peaks without needing to massively overbuild the energy creation system. The theory here is that your ore processing plant really isn't going to be running 100% of the time, and probably not even 50% of the time. So if your ore processing plant is running, say, 50% of the time, and it requires 80 RF to run at peak, then one Dynamo at 40 RF should be plenty to keep it running smoothly, assuming you have a sufficient reserve in your Energy Cube.
Also recall that dynamos self-throttle, so as your power supply goes up, your production of energy (and thus consumption of fuel) goes down. This makes TE Dynamos surprisingly fuel-efficient when compared to most other mods, even if their peak output tends to wane in comparison to other options as you move up various tech trees.
Melt all the things
Okay, for this, you will definitely need to have been to the nether and back, I will be assuming that you have ready access to Nether materials, and that you've got copious quantities of your Overworld resources as well. You're also going to need some significant power generation for this one. Now, let's craft the Magma Crucible. The Machine Frame and the Reception Coil should come as no surprise to you, then a Bucket, a couple of Copper Ingots, and a couple of... Nether Bricks. If you can't find a Nether Fortress, you can just smelt up some Netherrack.
Now, this machine consumes a whopping 400 RF/t! See previous commentary about not needing to actually produce that much, but you will want your Hardened Fluxduct for this task. It can be used to melt down all kinds of things, but most importantly is Redstone, Glowstone, and Ender Pearls. The liquids all have their unique effects, although I suggest caution when experimenting with them. Glowstone has a tendency to run away on you, redstone tends to activate everything touching the pool, and liquid Ender... umm... experiment with extreme caution, that's all I'll say. And make sure to pack a clean pair of undies first.
So what are these liquids used for?
Liquid Redstone is used in Redstone Energy Cubes and Fluxducts (via the Fluid Transposer attached to the Magma Crucible). Higher tier than the Hardened versions, these guys have amazing throughput and storage.
Liquid Glowstone can be put into Itemducts (via Fluid Transposer) to significantly increase the rate at which they transfer items.
Liquid Ender can be used to make a strange alloy called Enderium. It requires Shiny Metal, though, so this is not a cheap process. However, this strange material has many interesting properties. First off, it resonates in a multidimensional spectrum, and that resonance can be tuned to create Tesseracts that can shoot items from Point A to Point C without having to go through Point B, even across dimensions! Tesseracts can transmit items or liquids easily enough, but attempting to transmit power encounters an energy bleed of about 25% or so. Second, it can be used to further reinforce Redstone Energy Fluxducts and Cubes, although why anyone would need to is beyond me.
In conclusion, finally
There's a lot more to discover in this mod. Try making Dense Itemducts, Impulse Itemducts, Fluctuating Itemducts, Vacuum Itemducts, or Warp Itemducts, as well as new ways to transport yourself via Viaducts. However, I think you have enough to get started. Refreshments are available in the ballroom next door. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I bid you adieu.