MIT, Philemon, Power Electric discussed on Quirks and Quarks
Having me back. Now, you recently had a moment that was not unlike the early days of flight in the Wright brothers, tell me about that. Well, I mostly a witch moment that could be the moment where I stopped crashed in that moment to cut many times. But we did also have series of successful flies off too many many failed attempts. A successful flight tell me about it. So this was the the first of a flight of an airplane which had no moving parts in the propulsion system is based on. I only I only winds what's the airplane. Look like, it looks like a conventional across when you see it. But then you'll notice that it has no propulsion system as you'd normally expect. So there's no propeller there's no Gusta jet engine. It's instead Goten an array of wise underneath the wings, and those wise south to create ionized that how big is it? It's about five me his cross it weighs two point four five kilograms, and it flies five meters per second. And no noise. No, there's a slight electrical and the old crackle. Hopefully, we can get rid of that. How far did you airplane fly? If Lou sixty meters, which was the length of an indoor gym nays him that we had access to MIT for the indoor flight testing on could have gone much further than sixty meters fo the size of the gym. Well, tell me about how it works. How can you have an aircraft fly with no moving parts? The idea we apply is I and is at which means stripping the electrons from at an in particular nitrogen, which makes up the vast majority of Amel hills in the atmosphere. Once we've on is that we can accelerate the in an electric field and electrical full says of the same kinds of full you get when you rub a balloon in your head and you find it can stick to wool. So what's the setup? How do you make that work in an aircraft to produce thrust? It works by having a series of fine. Filaments navy from tha that craft and those find Philemon saw charge to twenty thousand volts so very high voltage now around these filaments the electric field. Get so strong. Young fats electrons are moved from nitrogen molecules leaving behind charged positive nitrogen ions. Now, these chalks positive ions are tracked to walls, the rare of the plane where we have an electrode at minus twenty thousand volts because positive charges negatives attract that cools as I own stream tools the back of the plane which intend crate say propulsion false. Oh, so you're you're kind of electrifying the air. So that it'll follow the the electric field from the front of the plane to the back exactly where we I nine Arab the front of the plane those irons than full of the electric field tools to the back of the plane, these ions collide millions of times with mutual molecules and transfer a momentum velocity to the mall heels through all these collisions. Oh, so the the electric is that are flowing drag the air around him with it. And that's your thrust. That's exactly right. And that's phenomena is whilst it's cold wind. And it's the purchase by which a stream of ions going through drags air along with it one of the main challenges in this course, was getting that forty thousand volt difference on you you don't get batteries that which is forty thousand volts. So what was your breakthrough because we we've talked before about this technology number of years ago, and you were just experimenting with it. But you had actually achieved flight what was the breakthrough the gut you into the air in order to do that we worked with some power Electric's experts at MIT, and they helped us develop a new type of power converter the steps of the voltage. You get from a battery from about one hundred volts to forty thousand bills. But the breakthrough roles was that most of those power converters are extremely heavy and might have been something like ten kilograms full they supplication which would be too heavy for flying a test flight, and I'll coli develop this new Oltra lightweight power converter that was five ten times lighter than what had been achieved before how efficient is it compared to say a jet engine..