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First ever plane with no moving parts takes flight

| The first ever “solid state” plane, with no moving parts in its propulsion system, has successfully flown for a distance of 60 metres, proving that heavier-than-air flight is possible without jets or propellers.

The flight represents a breakthrough in “ionic wind” technology, which uses a powerful electric field to generate charged nitrogen ions, which are then expelled from the back of the aircraft, generating thrust.

| Potential applications in the short term include unmanned drones, where silent flight may be beneficial, and high-altitude solar-powered flight, where the lack of moving parts could allow such a plane to soar for years on end, acting as a pseudo-satellite.

In the prototype plane, wires at the leading edge of the wing have 600 watts of electrical power pumped through them at 40,000 volts. This is enough to induce “electron cascades”, ultimately charging air molecules near the wire.

| Those charged molecules then flow along the electrical field towards a second wire at the back of the wing, bumping into neutral air molecules on the way, and imparting energy to them. Those neutral air molecules then stream out of the back of the plane, providing thrust.

The end result is a propulsion system that is entirely electrically powered, almost silent, and with a thrust-to-power ratio comparable to that achieved by conventional systems such as jet engines.

| Prof Guy Gratton, an aerospace engineer and visiting professor at Cranfield University, said: “It’s clearly very early days: but the team at MIT have done something we never previously knew was possible in using accelerated ionised gas to propel an aircraft. Aeronautical engineers around the world are already trying hard to find ways to use electric propulsion, and this technology will offer something else that in the future may allow

| manned and unmanned aircraft to be more efficient, and non-polluting.


| Sci-fi stuff. Hovercraft, here we come.

| read: a feel-good project of an immense waste of power

| Non-polluting... But it requires power to run??? Doesn't matter how few moving parts it has. It requires energy to move, just like anything else abiding by the law of physics. A cool science experiment, don't get me wrong, but I don't see how this is going to solve pollution. If some science g/u/rl would like to interject and correct me here, or explain how this will solve the problem of pollution due to air travel, please do. I'm interested.

| >>477444 >>477542
Pollution is mostly caused by excretion from chemical process, such us when using up fossil fuels.

Electricity can be generated with cleaner methods e.g. solar, wind, nuclear power. We don't have the tech to generate enough power to replace fossil fuel yet, but we can get there.

So yeah as the profeasor said "It's very early days".

| >>477555 I get that, but solar power can also be used to turn the propeller of an airplane. Although I can see how this design is a step forwards, b/c it helps reduce the problem of energy lost due to friction, the main problem still lies with alternative energy sources not being able to conjure up enough energy to make it work (yet, at least). This seems to be just another way to propel something through the air, still using energy, of which our main supply being fossil fuels.

| At this moment we can only fantasize such technology , I truly doubt this aircraft would hold on especially from the lack of investor's interests except for enviromentalist's eyes.

| *lack of investors* depends on whether militaries take a liking to it or not. The promise of multi-year silent near-orbital flight might intrigue them. Also, very few technologies were viable when forst developed. The plane in the article flew almost twice the dostance flown at Kitty Hawk, and even after Kitty Hawk planes were still fairly useless for several years after.

Yes, captcha, ion every rich.

| >>477560
I think the biggest unsolved issue still is power storage technology.
Of course it's nice to have a technology which may increase the efficency of already pretty efficent mechanical solutions.
But this doesn't solve the main problem: to store usable power in a high density. Gasoline has a very high density. Unfortunately it's limited and the way we use it is quite dirty. Uranium has a ridicolous high accessible energy-density, but it's also limited and dirty and risky.

| Also, the wear will not be caused by mechanical friction, but there will be certainly chemical corrosion coming into play because of the gasses created by the high voltage. Also, I doubt it will be "pollution free" as the ionized air molecules will form Ozone, which is harmful, as well as other monoxides, such as Nitrogen monoxide, which are quite dangerous. It could not be mass-used because of the building up of these toxic gasses. I guess flying cars will wait huh

Total number of posts: 14, last modified on: Fri Jan 1 00:00:00 1542997627

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