Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Professor Designs Plasma-propelled Flying Saucer

Date:
June 12, 2008
Source:
University of Florida
Summary:
Flying saucers may soon be more fact than mere science fiction. A mechanical and aerospace engineering professor has submitted a patent application for a circular, spinning aircraft design reminiscent of the spaceships seen in countless Hollywood films. The proposed prototype is small -- the aircraft will measure less than six inches across -- and will be efficient enough to be powered by on-board batteries.

Cut-away illustration of proposed prototype mini-flying saucer.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Florida

Flying saucers may soon be more fact than mere science fiction. University of Florida mechanical and aerospace engineering associate professor Subrata Roy has submitted a patent application for a circular, spinning aircraft design reminiscent of the spaceships seen in countless Hollywood films. Roy, however, calls his design a “wingless electromagnetic air vehicle,” or WEAV.

The proposed prototype is small – the aircraft will measure less than six inches across – and will be efficient enough to be powered by on-board batteries.

Roy said the design can be scaled up and theoretically should work in a much larger form. Even in miniature, though, the design has many uses.

The most obvious functions would be surveillance and navigation. The aircraft could be designed to carry a camera and light and be controlled remotely at great distances, he said.

Fittingly, Roy said his flying saucer one day could soar through atmospheres other than Earth’s own. For example, the aircraft would be an ideal vehicle for the exploration of Titan, Saturn’s sixth moon, which has high air density and low gravity, Roy said.

The U.S. Air Force and NASA have expressed interest in the aircraft, and the university is seeking to license the design, he said.

“This is a very novel concept, and if it’s successful, it will be revolutionary,” Roy said.

The vehicle will be powered by a phenomenon called magnetohydrodynamics, or the force created when a current or a magnetic field is passed through a conducting fluid. In the case of Roy’s aircraft, the conducting fluid will be created by electrodes that cover each of the vehicle’s surfaces and ionize the surrounding air into plasma.

The force created by passing an electrical current through this plasma pushes around the surrounding air, and that swirling air creates lift and momentum and provides stability against wind gusts. In order to maximize the area of contact between air and vehicle, Roy’s design is partially hollow and continuously curved, like an electromagnetic flying bundt pan.

One of the most revolutionary aspects of Roy’s use of magnetohydrodynamics is that the vehicle will have no moving parts. The lack of traditional mechanical aircraft parts, such as propellers or jet engines, should provide tremendous reliability, Roy said. Such a design also will allow the WEAV to hover and take off vertically.

Though the design is promising on paper, towering obstacles stand between the blueprint and liftoff.

No plasma-propelled aircraft has successfully taken flight on Earth. Such designs have found some success in space, where gravity and drag are minimal, but a vehicle hoping to fly within Earth’s atmosphere will need at least an order of magnitude more thrust, Roy said.

Also, the power source needs to be extremely lightweight yet still produce enough power to generate the necessary plasma. Not to mention the fact that the very same plasma that will allow the aircraft to fly also will interfere with electromagnetic waves necessary for communication with the vehicle.

But Roy is confident that the unique nature of his design will allow it to clear the technological hurdles and take to the skies, and he’s not deterred by the risk of failure.

“Of course the risk is huge, but so is the payoff,” he said. “If successful, we will have an aircraft, a saucer and a helicopter all in one embodiment.”

The propulsion system for Roy’s saucer sprouts from his extensive U.S. Air Force-funded plasma actuator research, the results of which have appeared in more than 15 scholarly journals.

The production of the aircraft will be a joint project of UF’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department and its electrical and computer engineering department.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Florida. "Professor Designs Plasma-propelled Flying Saucer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611135049.htm>.
University of Florida. (2008, June 12). Professor Designs Plasma-propelled Flying Saucer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611135049.htm
University of Florida. "Professor Designs Plasma-propelled Flying Saucer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611135049.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins