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Scientist Designs Plasma-Powered Flying Saucer

A scientist from the University of Florida has recently filed a patent that is attracting everyone from NASA and the US Air Force to UFO-seekers and sci-fi enthusiasts.

This is an artist’s illustration of what a Wingless Electromagnetic Air Vehicle might look like as it flies in the atmosphere above Mars. (Danielle Zawoy for the University of Florida)This is an artist’s illustration of what a Wingless Electromagnetic Air Vehicle might look like as it flies in the atmosphere above Mars. (Danielle Zawoy for the University of Florida) Since 2006, Subrata Roy, a mechanical and aerospace engineering associate professor, has been working on a "flying saucer" aircraft design that turns surrounding air into plasma to generate its propulsion. The saucer, or "wingless electromagnetic air vehicle" (WEAV), has no moving parts and therefore could be more stable than airplanes and helicopters that rely on aerodynamics to provide lift.

The six-inch WEAV would be powered by magnetohydrodynamics - the force created by passing a current or magnetic field through a conducting fluid. In this case, plasma would act as the conducting fluid. Electrodes on the WEAV, powered by an onboard energy source such as a battery or solar panel, would ionize the surrounding air into plasma.

Then, the electrodes on the bottom of the aircraft would shoot a current through the plasma, causing the charged particles to push against the neutral surrounding air, and creating lift. To turn right or left, electrodes on the opposite side of the aircraft would generate a current to move in the desired direction.

The advantages of using a plasma field include the ability to produce lift in any direction, quickly change direction, and turn the power on or off almost instantly, according to Anthony Colozza, a researcher with Analex Corporation who is stationed at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, who helped with the original WEAV plans.

Roy hopes to build a prototype of the aircraft and perform flight tests within the next year. If the six-inch design proves to be successful, he predicts that larger-scale versions - possibly manned - should also be conceivable.

Cut-away schematic of the Wingless Electromagnetic Air Vehicle shows inner hollow chamber for payload cargo. (Ryan Durscher of the Computational Plasma Dynamics Laboratory and Test Facility, University of Florida).Cut-away schematic of the Wingless Electromagnetic Air Vehicle shows inner hollow chamber for payload cargo. (Ryan Durscher of the Computational Plasma Dynamics Laboratory and Test Facility, University of Florida).This wouldn't be the first time an aircraft has flown using magnetohydrodynamics. Around 2000, a NASA team used ionized air propulsion to fly a craft that was attached to an external battery, said Colozza.

The Florida researchers will still face several challenges before getting their craft up, such as using a lightweight material to achieve the large thrust to overcome earth's gravity. Also, the plasma that will allow the aircraft to fly will also interfere with electromagnetic waves necessary for communication with the vehicle.

Even though Roy's design is still in the beginning stages, NASA and the US Air Force have contacted him to discuss possible applications. Since the system requires air or some kind of magnetic field to operate, it couldn't fly in space, but it might still be useful for exploring other planets and moons. Perhaps more feasible are military applications, such as surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

"Of course the risk is huge, but so is the payoff," Roy said. "If successful, we will have an aircraft, a saucer, and a helicopter all in one embodiment."

via: Scientific American and ABC

Comments
Jul 9, 2008
by Anonymous

well

It would be awesome if it worked but must be a bit realistic it would probably be 800 years before we could travel like that or better. Cool though

Jul 9, 2008
by Anonymous

Sounds like they've come up

Sounds like they've come up with working means to get people in the air.

I hope it pans out. I wonder how clean this thing is going be as it flys thou.

I'm no scientist, but Electromagnics is invisible force but any kind means of propulsion can end up leaving some kind after effects as it generates power. Energy can be converted from one thing to another. Water to Steam, Steam to Heat Energy so forth.\

I hope they study this thing's potential after effects once they figure out how it make it work successfully to be commerical product.

Jul 10, 2008
by Anonymous

@anonymous in this case,

@anonymous
in this case, it's solar power to battery to plasma conversion to propulsion. laws of physics are preserved. anyway, this is huge progress and can't wait to see the same flying skate board as in 'back in the future' movie.

Oct 14, 2008
by Anonymous

not efficient enough

A large portion of the energy will be wasted as the surface to weight ratio changes, maybe if the atmosphere was thicker. I also think acceleration would be almost nonexistant just like the nasa ion propulsion projects; forget about stopping very fast.

Feb 18, 2009
by Anonymous

ionizing is intresting

Acceleration using ionization of surrounding environment seems very simple. But ionizing can be done in one direction. But deionizing is not natural. So it may deteriorate the atmosphere. But thinking in a different angle, if we can attain acceleration using deionization process. Just use the opposite process so that the technologies complementing each other will be completely clean and efficient. Please think over this.