Author Topic: Ionic Lifter - Has anyone else around here built one?  (Read 2766 times)

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Offline Gyro

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Ionic Lifter - Has anyone else around here built one?
« on: February 24, 2018, 02:29:25 pm »
Time to turn myself in!  :D

I guess this fits in the Dodgy Technology section, albeit one that does work.

I read about lifters a good few years back and though: 'that's either complete fabrication or really intriguing', either way, I had to give it a try!

My model was triangular, about 150mm per side. Basically just a Balsa frame, with a thin foil skirt as one electrode and an isolated fine wire stretched about 15mm above it as the other electrode. I powered it with about 25kV from a CRT anode PSU. The lifter was restrained by three lengths of thin cotton to keep it stable

I've attached a photo and a zip file containing a video of a test run (sorry, I'm no good at video uploads, YouTube etc). By the time I got round to videoing it, the lifter was getting a bit battered - the uprights had been snapped and glued so the upper wire was getting a bit slack, causing the flashovers and crashes.

As can be seen, there was plenty of lifting force available to tension the restraining threads. You should be able to make out the fine wires running to the two electrodes. You can also see that no conducting surfaces were involved, its direction of thrust was independent of its surroundings.  The other thing that really intrigued me was that it worked almost equally well when connected with reversed polarity (same thrust direction)!  Lots of Ozone generation both ways.

There are all sorts of discussions on power efficiency, operation in a vacuum etc. which I won't get into, but it was a really fun experiment and demonstration for the kids. I have to admit that I was stunned when it actually lifted off for the first time!  8).

A couple of references:

http://jnaudin.free.fr/lifters/main.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ionocraft

Looking back at the photo dates, this was way back in 2006. The lifter is in tatters by now but I though it would be a good weekend topic.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 03:52:49 pm by Gyro »
Regards, Chris

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Offline Vtile

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Re: Ionic Lifter - Has anyone else around here built one?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2018, 07:27:36 pm »
Yep. I stumbled on the lifters back in the 2010 when I were hired to build one 50kV electrostatic precipitator prototype for one gyro gearloose in local UAS.

Interesting stuff and you are not the only one that says that the working is independent for the polarity. On the other hand what I then and later read about there is nothing special on it (wish I could recall the fine detail, but too much time have gone by). It just surprising in the sense you don't see the effect in that magnitude in daily life.


I think there must also be something with the area of anode and cathode going on and there comes partially the in dependency from polarity. In common air there is both negative and positive particles floating around so...
Time to turn myself in!  :D

I guess this fits in the Dodgy Technology section, albeit one that does work.

I read about lifters a good few years back and though: 'that's either complete fabrication or really intriguing', either way, I had to give it a try!

My model was triangular, about 150mm per side. Basically just a Balsa frame, with a thin foil skirt as one electrode and an isolated fine wire stretched about 15mm above it as the other electrode. I powered it with about 25kV from a CRT anode PSU. The lifter was restrained by three lengths of thin cotton to keep it stable

I've attached a photo and a zip file containing a video of a test run (sorry, I'm no good at video uploads, YouTube etc). By the time I got round to videoing it, the lifter was getting a bit battered - the uprights had been snapped and glued so the upper wire was getting a bit slack, causing the flashovers and crashes.

As can be seen, there was plenty of lifting force available to tension the restraining threads. You should be able to make out the fine wires running to the two electrodes. You can also see that no conducting surfaces were involved, its direction of thrust was independent of its surroundings.  The other thing that really intrigued me was that it worked almost equally well when connected with reversed polarity (same thrust direction)!  Lots of Ozone generation both ways.

There are all sorts of discussions on power efficiency, operation in a vacuum etc. which I won't get into, but it was a really fun experiment and demonstration for the kids. I have to admit that I was stunned when it actually lifted off for the first time!  8).

A couple of references:

http://jnaudin.free.fr/lifters/main.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ionocraft

Looking back at the photo dates, this was way back in 2006. The lifter is in tatters by now but I though it would be a good weekend topic.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 07:36:41 pm by Vtile »
 

Offline Gyro

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Re: Ionic Lifter - Has anyone else around here built one?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2018, 08:04:03 pm »
Yep. I stumbled on the lifters back in the 2010 when I were hired to build one 50kV electrostatic precipitator prototype for one gyro gearloose in local UAS.

Interesting stuff and you are not the only one that says that the working is independent for the polarity. On the other hand what I then and later read about there is nothing special on it (wish I could recall the fine detail, but too much time have gone by). It just surprising in the sense you don't see the effect in that magnitude in daily life.


I think there must also be something with the area of anode and cathode going on and there comes partially the in dependency from polarity. In common air there is both negative and positive particles floating around so...

I'm glad I'm not the only one!  :)

As you say, you just don't expect to see effects of that magnitude resulting just from an asymmetric electrode  arrangement. It's probably just as well that the effect doesn't manifest itself more widely! I've seen some references describe them as 'asymmetric capacitors' but that term doesn't seem to be very applicable with the high leakage and low capacitance involved.

Yes, I believe the polarity thing is to do with the presence of positive and negative ions, I do remember that the effect was stronger with one polarity but can't remember which now - it would certainly 'fly' with both.

I must read up on the latest findings with regard to operation in a vacuum, I know NASA did some research on it - micro-gravity is probably the only application where such a device would be capable of carrying it's own power source - and accelerating over long periods.

Another thing I remember now, that intrigued me... It is possible to obtain increased thrust by stacking stages one on top of the other, with alternating electrodes connected to the same power source (ie. vertical stages connected electrically in parallel). I would have expected the alternating electrode structures to cancel each other...

http://jnaudin.free.fr/lifters/maximus2/index.htm

297W to lift 250g though!
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 08:14:13 pm by Gyro »
Regards, Chris

"Victor Meldrew, the Crimson Avenger!"
 

Offline StillTrying

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Re: Ionic Lifter - Has anyone else around here built one?
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2018, 08:09:22 pm »
Mythbusters made one, it didn't work in a vacuum.
.  That took much longer than I thought it would.
 

Offline Gyro

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Re: Ionic Lifter - Has anyone else around here built one?
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2018, 08:14:58 pm »
Damn!  :(

I suppose they still have Ion thrusters available but those need a constant source of Ions.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 08:16:58 pm by Gyro »
Regards, Chris

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Offline Cyberdragon

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Re: Ionic Lifter - Has anyone else around here built one?
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2018, 08:16:56 pm »
Mythbusters made one, it didn't work in a vacuum.

Of course, no gas means no ions.

Would they work in a pure noble gas environment? That would be pretty! ;D
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Offline Gyro

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Re: Ionic Lifter - Has anyone else around here built one?
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2018, 08:28:23 pm »
Well Ion thrusters are very pretty!  :)

https://www.space.com/38444-mars-thruster-design-breaks-records.html

Mind you, 100kW for 5.4N thrust  :o, that's [EDIT: on a par an awful lot worse than a lifter in air!]
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 08:40:35 pm by Gyro »
Regards, Chris

"Victor Meldrew, the Crimson Avenger!"
 
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Offline Vtile

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Re: Ionic Lifter - Has anyone else around here built one?
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2018, 08:38:47 pm »
Well Ion thrusters are very pretty!  :)

https://www.space.com/38444-mars-thruster-design-breaks-records.html

Mind you, 100kW for 5.4N thrust  :o, that must be on a par with a lifter (in air)!
Gosh, I wish I had that kind of money to spend all worthless, but interesting stuff.  :-+ |O :-DD
 


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