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Ion Wind Powered Drone

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Tagged As: Drone and Science

Experimenters have built ion lifters for years now from high voltage sources, lightweight frames, and a couple of wires. The devices generate thrust through a principle called electrohydrodynamics, the study of the motions of ionized particles or molecules and their interactions with electric fields and the surrounding fluid. Perhaps due to having no moving parts, many people mistakenly call the lifters anti-gravity machines, but they create a thrust from ionized air directed in a controlled direction.

Recently, researchers at MIT have created a "sideways" lifter to produce thrust for a small aircraft. They designed a 2.5kg aircraft with a 5m wingspan housing the batteries and voltage converters within the body. Without the thrusters engaged, the craft could glide 10m when launched from a catapult. However, when powered, the craft could glide more than 60m with the ion thrusters (each producing 5N of force).

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