Scientists Create Electric Jet Engine That Could Lead To Carbon-Neutral Air Travel

By: | May 12th, 2020

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

In a big breakthrough, researchers from Wuhan University have developed environmentally-friendly plasma-powered jet propulsion system. This prototype device will allow planes to fly using just electricity and the air around them as fuel. 

The study was published in AIP Advances 

Worldwide scientists are working to shift on to renewable energies and minimizing the usage of fossil fuels. Now most of the vehicles that move on land are turning towards electricity. In coming future even jet engines will also be powered by only electricity.

 Jau Tang, lead researcher of the study, said, “The motivation of our work is to help solve the global warming problems owing to humans’ use of fossil fuel combustion engines to power machinery, such as cars and airplanes,”

“There is no need for fossil fuel with our design, and therefore, there is no carbon emission to cause greenhouse effects and global warming.”

Science behind:

This innovative device compresses air and ionizes it with microwaves, resulting in generation of plasma that thrusts the engine forward. This new technology may one day allow planes to fly without usage of any fossil fuels.

In experiment, the prototype plasma jet device was able to lift a 1 Kg steel ball over a quartz tube. That’s the same thrust, proportional to scale, as a conventional jet engine.

Tang said, “Our results demonstrated that such a jet engine based on microwave air plasma can be a potentially viable alternative to the conventional fossil fuel jet engine.”

A schematic diagram of a prototype microwave air plasma thruster, Source: Jau Tang and Jun Li/Institute of Technological Sciences at Wuhan University


Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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