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Full Version: Solid State Airplane Engine has No Moving Parts
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It's designed by MIT, is the size of a model airplane and uses an ion drive.

It carries a custom battery pack and transformer that steps up the voltage to 20,000 volts. There's wires under the wing that are charged to +20 kilovolts, and small metal airfoil shaped things behind the wires charged to - 20 kilovolts.

The leading edge wires ionize nitrogen in the air by knocking electrons off the atoms, resulting in positively charged nitrogen ions and negatively charged electrons. Most of the mass is in the nitrogen ions and these ions are attracted to the trailing negatively charged electrodes. (I suppose that the electrons are repelled, but their mass is negligible. That rearward flow of nitrogen ions (charged nitrogen gas) propels uncharged air molecules along with it and the resulting flow of air produces thrust.

It's not a new idea, but nobody has ever been able to make it work due to battery limitations, control system weight and stuff like that. But new technology allows those old problems to be solved.  

It's completely silent and they say that one of the cool things about it is that as they scale it up, it should become more rather than less efficient. They don't know if they can make one big enough to carry a human being, but it should be useful for silent unmanned drone-like things. I suppose that a big limitation might be battery life.

Existing aircraft engines have lots of rapidly moving parts (turbines and so on) that can go wrong. This has no moving parts so it has less chance of failure and will be more easily maintained.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/11/...ing-parts/

https://www.sciencealert.com/planes-powe...in-silence

Watch a video of it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_conti...oB6qu5dcCw

According to the engineer narrating the video, the first guy to try this many years ago was trying to use high voltage electrodes to invent antigravity. He did manage to reduce the weight of his apparatus and thought that he had succeeded, but what he had really done was create an ion wind that produced downward thrust.

[Image: MIT-Motorless-Plane-02-PRESS%20(1).jpg]
I usually fantasize about utopias of self-repairing machines, but solid-state simplicity might be a runner-up. (Hah, as if some SS devices actually have fewer components to burn out).

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