Silent ion-powered glider can fly without fuel

A team of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), led by Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics Stephen Barrett, has created the seemingly impossible - an airplane that flies without conventional fuel and moving parts. All this is replaced by the ionic "wind".

In the course of research, scientists have found that if the wing is given a special shape and covered with layers of conductors serving as the electrodes of the capacitor, then a "chain reaction" will begin in the air around it, in which free electrons and neutral molecules collide, followed by "knocking out" other particles from them. ... As a result, the surrounding space is filled with a “cocktail” consisting of ions and uncharged particles.

Further, if this "cocktail" turns out to be inside an electric field, then the charged particles begin to move, rush to the opposite pole, and incidentally collide with neutral molecules. These collisions, in turn, cause them to move in the opposite direction, creating the so-called ionic "wind", which generates significant thrust.

The "ionic" aircraft, developed by MIT engineers, has a mass of 2.5 kg and a wingspan of 5 meters. The efficiency of its engine is increased to 2.4%. Prior to that, this figure was only 1%. During the first test, the aircraft stayed in the air for 12 seconds, breaking 55 meters in complete silence.

Despite the modest success, scientists are confident that ion engines have a bright future. They will find application in silent drones, as well as in auxiliary engines for conventional aircraft.