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In the 24th century, Doctor Ja'Dar of Bilana III investigated soliton waves as a possible alternative to warp drive. The USS Enterprise-D attended the first field test of this technology in 2368. The soliton wave rider experiment involved the generation of a soliton wave using 23 field coils on the surface of Bilana III, which would envelop a small, unmanned vehicle and push it into warp towards Lemma II. There, a sister facility would generate a particle scattering field to dissipate the wave and bring the test ship out of warp.
Although the test began promisingly, displaying a 98% energy transfer efficiency of the soliton wave that was 450% more efficient than the Enterprise's own warp engines, the wave unexpectedly destabilized and manifested a subspace distortion that destroyed the test ship and damaged the Enterprise. Dr. Ja'Dar believed that a transient power imbalance was responsible.
The Enterprise subsequently found that the wave was accelerating towards Lemma II, gaining energy in the process. It was estimated that by the time the wave arrived it would contain enough energy to destroy most of the planet. The wave had grown too powerful for the Lemma II facility to dissipate, but the Enterprise was able to disrupt the wave by detonating five photon torpedoes directly in front of it. (TNG: "New Ground")
- Solitons' role to supply Warp drive energy