New type of aerial engine functions without needing fossil fuel. It creates plasma from the surrounding air which it compresses and ionizes using microwaves.
Current aerial transportation needs fossil fuels. Those do work but have become quite unpopular for a lot of reasons. This is the reason why experts all over the world are developing new types of airplane engines that would need fewer fossil fuels to run. Or, ideally, engines that would require no fossil fuel to run.
A team from the Wuhan University in China led by Jau Tang recently built a prototype of a device using plasma created by microwave from air to make a jet engine. This engine requires no fossil fuel and creates no carbon emissions.
Plasma is matter made up of electrically charged ions. Under normal circumstances, it only appears in quite extreme conditions such as the surface of a star or near a lightning strike in the atmosphere. But we are also pretty good at making plasma artificially. The Tang's team engine generates plasma by intensively compressing air and the ionizing it using microwaves.
The type of a plasma jet engine is different from other engines of this type by creating the high pressure and temperature plasma from the surrounding air without needing anything else than electricity.
For example, the plasma (or ion) drive of the American interplanetary probe Dawn uses xenon plasma and that is pretty much obviously unusable in the Earth's atmosphere.
Tang and his colleagues experimentally verified that their plasma engine prototype can lift a one-kilogram ball using a device with a tube of a diameter of 24 millimeters. It might not seem like much but the power of the device is quite comparable with what a traditional jet engine of an airplane would have.
The creators of the new plasma jet engine are convinced that a system of such devices in combination with a high-energy source of microwaves could run a jet airplane of normal size. If they are correct that maybe such an airplane could fly one day although it would require a lot more work. But Tang and his colleagues believe that their plasma jet engine could one day become an alternative to the classical jet engine that uses fossil fuels.
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