Electroaerodynamic propulsion isn’t a new concept. In fact, it has been known since the early 1960s. Interestingly, this concept has been used by MIT researchers to fly their first plane of its kind that doesn’t have any moving parts!
Traditionally, propellers and turbines have been used for airplanes’ propulsion. Those are powered by fossil-fuel combustion. The innovative tech by MIT researchers uses a pair of electrodes for the movement of ions to create ionic wind. Although the technology has been known to be used by Apple for its laptop cooling system back in 2012, it is the first time it has been utilized to propel a plane.
This project by MIT researchers is just a prototype plane weighing only 2.45 kilograms. Using the tech to design a commercial aircraft will have many advantages like less environmental pollution, more safety, less noise, and maintenance benefits over the traditional airplanes. But it is not that easy considering the enormous power supply requirements. While powering the prototype electric plane was not an issue for the researchers but one can imagine the amount of energy required to supply the necessary 40,000 volts for an actual passenger plane! Hence, the researchers mention that the concept could be used in drones if not in a commercial plane.
The research has opened up the possibility for electroaerodynamic propulsion in commercial planes. But it sounds like a far-fetched dream to ever fly an actual plane without any moving parts!