Ion-powered aircraft flies with no moving parts

Ladies and Gentlemen, we truly live in a wonderful age, an age of inventions not ever imagined by anyone before us, (us being those of this time).

https://www.engadget.com/2018/11/21/mit-ionic-wind-aircraft-flies/?yptr=yahoo

It is in my hope and prayers that these sort of inventions truly help rather than hinder mankind.

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Author: G.D.

I'm from Pensyltucky. Can trace my ancestry directly to whom the present day national anthem of Poland is written about. Presently repair slot machines at a casino.

7 thoughts on “Ion-powered aircraft flies with no moving parts”

  1. Ionocraft or “lifters” are popular science fair projects.  The usual kind produces vertical thrust on a very light structure from an external high voltage supply.  Here’s a video on how to build one.

    Lifters show up from time to time in science fiction, but since you only get around a gram of thrust per watt of power, no previous lifter has been able to have a self-contained power supply.

    The aircraft in the Nature paper uses ion propulsion to generate horizontal thrust which passes over an airfoil to generate lift.  While it is claimed to be able to perform “sustained flight”, it doesn’t look like it can take off under its own power.  (Fair enough: the Wright Brothers’ original Flyer couldn’t either—it had to be launched by a catapult.)

    In the video in the Engadget article, they talk about using the technology for urban drones to get rid of the annoying noise.  I agree about the noise, but I’m not sure people are going to be happy to have things flying around everywhere with exposed 40 kilovolt electrodes!  Also, lifters inherently generate lots of ozone which is smelly and, in sufficient concentrations, harmful to plant and animal life.

    For some reason, lifters seem to be an attractor for the kind of flaky people who are into “free energy”, Tesla (the inventor, not the car) cultism, UFOs, and crackpot science.  This may be because Thomas Townsend Brown, who invented ionic propulsion, was a formidable crackpot himself, who believed he had discovered anti-gravity and later became involved in UFOs.

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  2. John Walker:
    In the video in the Engadget article, they talk about using the technology for urban drones to get rid of the annoying noise.  I agree about the noise, but I’m not sure people are going to be happy to have things flying around everywhere with exposed 40 kilovolt electrodes!  Also, lifters inherently generate lots of ozone which is smelly and, in sufficient concentrations, harmful to plant and animal life.

    For some reason, lifters seem to be an attractor for the kind of flaky people who are into “free energy”, Tesla (the inventor, not the car) cultism, UFOs, and crackpot science.  This may be because Thomas Townsend Brown, who invented ionic propulsion, was a formidable crackpot himself, who believed he had discovered anti-gravity and later became involved in UFOs.

    Obviously a kill switch would be incorporated to satisfy the fear of 40 Kv around people.

    As for the ozone, yes it is detrimental to living organisms at the surface level of our atmosphere, strangely enough it is beneficial in the stratosphere with it’s absorption of the sun’s ultraviolet light. A little bit of a paradox it seems, but true.

    As for “flaky people” … you’re on the mark there John, I just hope it wasn’t intended towards your’s truly. I consider myself more of a crazy person than flaky.

    (Just ask 10 Cents.)

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  3. Gerry D:
    As for the ozone, yes it is detrimental to living organisms at the surface level of our atmosphere, strangely enough it is beneficial in the stratosphere with it’s absorption of the sun’s ultraviolet light. A little bit of a paradox it seems, but true.

    The trouble is that applications of the technology that relate to avoiding noise pollution necessarily involve operations near the ground, which is precisely where ozone is a pollutant. Stratospheric ozone is at a much higher altitude (>20 km) than where even commercial aircraft fly.

    The MIT page on this mentions drones as an application, as does one of the inventors in the Nature video.  I doubt thousands of ion-powered drones would pass muster vis-a-vis ozone pollution. Furthermore, since the thrust depends on accelerating air molecules, the thrust will be lower at high altitudes. There’s a hint of this in the video when limitation on thrust density is mentioned. Presumably, that’s why he’s pushing for drones. Breakdown voltage decreases with air pressure (Paschen’s Law), which also works against using this at high altitude.

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  4. John Walker:
    This may be because Thomas Townsend Brown, who invented ionic propulsion, was a formidable crackpot himself, who believed he had discovered anti-gravity and later became involved in UFOs.

    He claimed to invent it, but he actually stole it from UFO technology. Anti-gravity technology was just a red herring to throw him off from stealing the other key technology of UFOs, faster-than-light travel.

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  5. Damocles:
    He claimed to invent it, but he actually stole it from UFO technology. Anti-gravity technology was just a red herring to throw him off from stealing the other key technology of UFOs, faster-than-light travel.

    Hey, I’ve been to Area 51, and all I can say is that when you go down to Level −5 (where all the cool stuff is kept), the first thing you see after coming out of the elevator is a statue of Thomas Townsend Brown.  If you don’t nod to it, they don’t let you proceed further.

    It’s called the “statue of limitations”.

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  6. John Walker:

    Damocles:
    He claimed to invent it, but he actually stole it from UFO technology. Anti-gravity technology was just a red herring to throw him off from stealing the other key technology of UFOs, faster-than-light travel.

    Hey, I’ve been to Area 51, and all I can say is that when you go down to Level −5 (where all the cool stuff is kept), the first thing you see after coming out of the elevator is a statue of Thomas Townsend Brown.  If you don’t nod to it, they don’t let you proceed further,

    It’s called the “statue of limitations”.

    I can top that. I’ve been to Studio 54. The patrons looked alien to me.

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