We now have the technology to get to work on the Star Trek shuttle boat



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  • MIT researchers build the machine without moving parts
  • Drive "ionic winds" 60 meters
  • "Now the possibilities of such a power system are viable"

Airplanes flying without moving parts are now a reality.

You've seen them in Star Trek and waving the space quietly in the winds of the ions.

MIT's Assistant Aeronautical and Astronaut Professor Steven Barrett saw them when he was small. And now he has developed the ionic wind power of his childhood dreams.

Here it works:

It is the first time the aircraft has been flying without moving parts.

"In the long run, machines should not have propellers and turbines," Barrett says. "They should be more than the" Star Trek "shipment with just blue glow and quietly sliding."

What flows are these lines of wire that are pushed in front of the model:

"The ionic wind" is more commonly known as the "electrotherapeutic thrust" and is based on the principle recognized for the first time in the 1920s.

It describes the wind or thrust that arises when the current is passed through a thin and thick electrode. If enough voltage is used, the air between the electrodes can provide enough thrust to carry a small machine.

But in practice, its reality has never gone beyond hobbyists by lifting small models that are connected to large voltages off the desktop.

Nine years ago in a sleepless night, Barrett went to work behind an envelope to find a way to turn theory into a viable power system.

And just recently, at the MIT's duPont Athletic Center gym, they made a machine with a 5-meter wing-volleyball 60 yards without moving parts.

They repeated the flight 10 times when the machine repeatedly produced sufficient thrust to maintain it at similar distances every time.

"This was the simplest possible level we could design that could show the concept that Ion-air could fly," Barrett says.

"It is still far away from an airplane that can do a useful job, it must be more efficient, fly longer and fly out."

Quotes, how are they working?

The power comes from the body of lithium polymer batteries in the body.

But the key to doing so was from Professor David Perreault's Power Electronics Research Group members at the Electronics Research Laboratory

They designed a power supply that transformed battery output so that they could deliver electricity to 40,000 volts – enough to charge wires with a light power converter.

Here's a technical explanation of the following events MIT News:

When wires are energized, they act by attracting and displacing negatively charged electron-surrounding air molecules, such as a giant magnet that attracts iron fibers. The remaining air molecules are recently ionized and in turn draw negatively charged electrodes to the back of the machine.

Since the newly formed ionic ion streams towards negatively charged yarns, each ion collides millions of times with other air molecules, creating a thrust that drives the air forward.

We've seen ion positions earlier. NASA has a HiPEP system and Patrick "Paddy" Neumann, a student at Sydney University, has the system he wants to use for long distance travel to space.

But neither must fight the severity.

Barrett's team can now continue to try to improve its design efficiency to produce more ionic wind with less tension.

"In the long run, we got here," Barrett says. "The departure from the basic principle to real flying was a long way to characterizing physics, then designing and making it.

"Now the potential of such propulsion systems is viable."

Here's more video from the test:

Read more about the results of the test in the Nature Magazine.

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