The principle of electroaerodynamic thrust aka ionic wind was discovered in the 1920s but it was not explored as a form of propulsion until 4 years ago. Fast forward to 2022, a man took it further by designing the next-gen ionic thruster for flight.
The man is Jay, a Plasma physics enthusiast behind the YouTube channel Plasma Channel. Not only did Jay design and built a multi-stage ionic thruster but in this project, he also showed us the relation between voltage and airflow.
In this experiment, Jay also demonstrated the effect of the airflow and the spacing between each stage of the ionic thruster. By varying the space between each stage, Jay managed to yield a max airflow of 2.3 m/s or about 7.5 ft/s.
Obviously, this isn’t going to make an aircraft fly but Plasma Channel’s Next-Gen Ionic Thruster proved that ionic thrusters have potential.
All told, Jay’s contraption tips the scales at 489g (1.1 lbs) and puts out about 22g (0.05 lbs or 0.8 oz) of thrust. Not the most ideal thrust to get anything moving let alone fly but it is a start.
For now, the thrust generated by this new kind of propulsion may not be enough to lift passenger-carrying flying vehicles but it will see applications in drones, as proven by Undefined Technologies. Skip ahead to see Plasma Channel’s Next-Gen Ionic Thruster in action.
Images: YouTube (Plasma Channel).