A team of researchers working for the Massachusetts Technology Institute has managed to reach a new landmark in engineering.
The team was able to develop a plane that is capable of flight but it does not require any moving parts. The plane employs electroaerodynamic propulsion, using two electrodes that are able to generate ionic wind. The phenomenon was first identified back in 1966 but this is the first case when it is used on a large scale.
The plane prototype is quite small, as it weighs approximately 2.45 kilograms. Building a real plan that uses this technology could bring several advantages when it comes to safety, noise emission, cost of maintenance and other. There are also several drawbacks that currently hinder such an initiative. One of them is the fact that the plane would need a giant battery in order to store energy and the mass of the battery is bound to require the creation of an alternative design in order to make it work.
While the design is not suitable for a passenger jet just yet smaller planes could use it successfully. The creation of a hybrid engine would also reduce the consumption of kerosene while also keeping pollution levels low.
How does it work?
Two thrusters use high voltage power in order to generate ions around a pair of electrons. As the ions travel around the electrodes they collide with other particles creating ionic wind and generating the force needed to push the plane forward. Since the ions are constantly moving around the two electrons the propulsion system works without the need for moving parts.
The technology has been previously used on a smaller scale. For example, computer enthusiasts can opt to keep their desktop cool by using a bladeless fan that uses the same concept.
The team is now working on improving the technology in order to make it more practical in the long run.