MIT researchers have developed and flown an experimental electric plane that doesn’t require any moving parts. Its impressive turbine-less design uses electro-aerodynamic propulsion to fly. If created on a larger scale, this electric plane could change the future of aviation by introducing a quieter, lower-emission aircraft.
The 5.4-pound (2.45-kilogram) innovative battery-powered aircraft flew 200 feet (60 meters), which is the length of a school gym. While the process of electro-aerodynamic propulsion, has existed since the ’60s, the concept is being redefined today. Using very high voltages – 40,000 volts, in this case, the thruster generates ions in the air around two electrodes.
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The electric field created between these two electrodes throws the ions from a smaller electrode over to a larger one. While in transit, these ions collide with normal air molecules and create the ionic wind, and pushes the plane forward. Given that the ions are moving between two stationary electrodes, no moving parts are required to power the plane, MIT explains.