The MIT researcher says that he was able to fly continuously on an airplane without moving parts. It is a 5-meter-wide, single-leaf glider, but it has a voltage of 40,000 volts flowing through the wires in its wings, ionizing the air molecules and generating an airflow to the negative electrode located at the back of the wing, .
This same principle was discovered in the 1920s. The structure called ioncraft itself is possible at the same level of scientific work, but it has been difficult to enlarge it because it has to use high pressure.
Steven Barrett, an MIT aerospace professor, said the aircraft was inspired by the movie Star Trek series. In the science fiction film which I watched as a child, I thought that the aerospace device itself should move almost without moving noise and exhaust, but it will fly in the air with blue light. I think that there should be no propeller or jet engine in the future airplane. It is said.
He began to think about using the ion wind phenomenon discovered in the 1920s and driving it as an airplane propulsion. After a few years of research, the final design was a 5m wide, 2.3kg in weight, a wire array on the wing edge, an anode, and a thick wire on the backside.
A lithium polymer battery is built in the fuselage section, and when energized, a voltage of 40,000 volts is sent to the wire. This removes the remaining air molecules from the air molecules around the anode to negative ions and sinks them toward the ionized cathode. At this point, the ions make repetitive collisions with other air molecules, creating the propulsion of the airplane.
Ion aircraft made in this way can fly over 60m while maintaining altitude. Of course, it is difficult to control acceleration / deceleration and altitude adjustment yet, but it is expected that it will be possible someday.
Professor Barrett notes that the technology is fairly quiet because there are no moving parts other than simply being able to fly. In the near future, a variety of drones, such as ships, traffic surveillance, and air pollution measurement, can be found in the city center. However, the same propeller type drones can cause problems such as high noise and wind blowing nearby. Application of the ion wind principle here can be expected to eliminate noise concerns.
In addition, integration with existing engines and hybrid airplanes could help improve fuel efficiency. Without moving parts, there is less room for problems, and maintenance costs can be reduced.
Professor Barrett is currently studying how to get momentum efficiently at lower voltages. For more information, please click here .