Imagine a world with hugely reduced carbon emissions and a substantial slowing of global warming – this is the aim of Wuhan University researchers who have built a prototype jet engine which can propel itself without fossil fuel.
The scientists report that their fuel-less jet engine device will use microwaves to compress and ionize air, generating a plasma – which creates the forward motion.
According to the Wikipedia definition, “plasma is a state of matter in which an ionized gaseous substance becomes highly electrically conductive to the point that long-range electric and magnetic fields dominate the behaviour of the matter.”
The invention is still in its infancy. But the hope is that someday planes and motor vehicles will be powered primarily by electricity and the air around them.
Working prototype of electricity powered jet shows great potential
By their own admission, the Wuhan researchers still have some way to go. They do however possess a workable down-scaled version – a prototype was able to launch a one-kilogram steel ball 24 millimeters into the air.
It does not sound like much. But its all about scale and the slight movement, they claim, is equivalent to the power needed to propel a plane.
“We used a home-made device to measure the lifting force and jet pressure at various settings of microwave power and the air flow rate,” read a statement on the AIP Advances website.
“We demonstrated that, given the same power consumption, its propulsion pressure is comparable to that of conventional airplane jet engines using fossil fuels. Therefore, such a carbon-emission free thruster could potentially be used as a jet thruster in the atmosphere.”
Ultimately the goal is to change the way humans move ourselves around the planet and to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions which result from burning fossil fuel to power motor vehicles and planes.
“The motivation of our work is to help solve the global warming problems owing to humans’ use of fossil fuel combustion engines to power machinery, such as cars and airplanes,” said author Jau Tang, a professor at Wuhan University.
“There is no need for fossil fuel with our design. And therefore, there is no carbon emission to cause greenhouse effects and global warming.”
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