Ion Wind Propelled Star Trek Enterprise

[Steven Dufresne] recently demonstrated ion propulsion using high voltage, and someone pointed out it kind of looked like the warp drives on the Star Trek Enterprise… so he went out and bought a model Enterprise and rebuilt his demonstration!

His original video on Ion Winds gives a good summary of the beginning of his experiments. In fact, it’s actually a recreation of a design he saw at the International Symposium on New Energy back in 1996 of the Electrokinetic Apparatus which was patented in 1960.

By creating a high voltage arc of electricity, it appears that the resulting “ion wind” propels the Enterprise with respect to the fixed testing apparatus. Did we mention he made the high voltage power supply himself?

[Steven] also points out that the propulsion might be occurring due to dielectrophoresis, but hasn’t discovered any conclusive evidence to prove that. Even the patent is rather vague on how this works:

The invention utilizes a heretofore unknown electrokinetic phenomenon which I have discovered; namely, that when a pair of electrodes of appropriate form are held in a certain fixed spaced relation to each other and immersed in a dielectric medium and then oppositely charged to an appropriate degree, a force is produced tending to move the pair of electrodes through the medium.

Regardless of how or why it works, it’s a fun video to watch, so make sure you stick around after the break to see it!

28 thoughts on “Ion Wind Propelled Star Trek Enterprise

    1. I got the idea for doing the Enterprise after enough people pointed of the similarity to my previous ionocraft video Doing a T.I.E. fighter didn’t even dawn on me until after I released the Enterprise video and someone brought it up. If I’d thought of it I’d have put a T.I.E. fighter on one end of the rotor and the Enterprise on the other and had a Star Wars vs Trek situation. :D

    1. Yeah, it definitely is an ionocraft. In fact, I’m working on an explanatory video now that explains it as such. I think James got the idea for it possibly being dielectrophoresis from some related experimenting on my website where I immersed a similar device in mineral oil.

  1. Dear patent gods,
    Please do not grant this patent based on the extremely vague details provided. No one ever should use the word “unknown” in a patent filing.

    Tax payers, consumers, and the world.

    1. Yeah, I rolled my eyes at that. I mean, there’s an argument to be made that if you’ve invented a device that works then it should be patentable, but I think that if you can’t describe how it works then you can’t possibly have a patent that’s well defined enough to allow a court to tell what is and isn’t infringing.

  2. The advent of piezoelectric transformers makes these feasible at long last.

    The big problem with running these off a flyback is the weight, whereas a PZT series stack powered inductively with diodes to add the peak voltages allows a 10g assembly to generate >20g of thrust.

    I got as far as building a prototype but ran into issues with insulation which in retrospect would have been a matter of silicone encapsulation of just the HV outputs.
    The best sort to use here is the grey car stuff for making gaskets, this is the correct sort that doesen’t outgas acetic acid and has a breakdown in the 10KV/mm range.

    1. I hadn’t looked into piezoelectric transformers before. Looking now though… For a power source for my lifter type ionocraft I once did some quick calculations for a 10F/2.5V supercapacitor (1/2CV^2 = 31.25J). From my voltage and current measurements I showed in this video for my lifter 26,000V x 0.000275A for hover = 7.15W = 7.15J/s. So a supercapacitor could theoretically be used as a power source for at least a few seconds of flight. Mind you, the weight is still far too high. A bigger lifter would of course have higher current requirements.

    1. It’s sad that this (perfectly valid) “ion wind” effect has been interpreted by the free-energy/antigravity/UFO crowd as something “special” or beyond normal explanation. I groaned when I saw the link to JL Naudin’s site, since he is well into the whole area of cold-fusion/plasma electrolysis etc. I hope that having a link to his site on HaD doesn’t make people think this gives him credibility ;-)

      1. It’s unfortunate that the ufo crowd has taken the technology and interpreted it as anti-gravity, which it’s not. It’s electrostatic in nature. However it is significantly more advanced than conventional aerospace propulsion technology in that it’s solid state propulsion not based on the expulsion of matter.

        As for Naudin, he’s performed a number of rigorous and detailed experiments on lifters and as far as that subject is concerned he deserves credibility.

        1. It does involve the exulsion of matter, though. Air is charged one way by the top wire, which makes it attracted to the positively charged bottom section, air is moved to create lift.

          It doesn’t invovle moving aprts, so I suppose the ‘solid state propulsion’ bit is correct, if worded a bit odd.

  3. There have been space probes launched that used an ion engine, but the thrust of those things is very low so it’s for probes that have all the time in the world to get up to speed.

  4. I did see experiments which use a hot emitter dipped in potassium salts to get higher thrust to weight ratio.
    Similar concept to how vacuum tubes use thoriated tungsten to use a lower voltage on the tube.

  5. I was preparing to make a negative ion generator to clean the air in my apartment, and came across this, which I am going to build tonight, replacing Enterprise with SSV Normandy. It is VERY simple to go from Air Ionizer to Ion Engine propelled model/AWESOME Nightlight (err, at least it appears to be simple). It should STILL act as an air Ionizer also. So, what you end up with, is a Really cool and visually stunning model that also filters particles from your air….. I got 2 different Negative Ion Generators off Amazon, one runs off 120V AC Mains, and the other runs off 12V DC…. meaning it COULD be powered with a 9 volt battery. Both put out 7.5 Kv, and cost $15, and should have an effective cleaning area of 200 sq. feet (again, all assumed to I light this sucker off) Here is a link:

    It looks as if you just solder on a plug on one end, and run the other end to some heavy stranded wire, or single sharp needles, encased in a foil tube, mount them and go. You would basically follow the Video. as the Generator from Amazon gets you to start at the same steps as the youtube vid… Anyways, I’ll post a link to my build log/vid tonight/tomorrow if I don’t kill myself first.

    1. The danger in doing this for ionizing air for breathing is that the voltage you might need for propulsion might be enough to produce ozone, which in large quantities is hazardous to your health. There is some voltage below 10kV which doesn’t produce ozone but I don’t know what it is. Since the module you’ve referenced is specifically for ionizing air to clean it, I’d hope it’s below that voltage (it says 7.5kV so maybe that’s in the safe range).
      However, the voltage in this propulsion application is determined by a few things that I can come up with. One is the distance between the positive and negative electrodes, another is the amount of current in the ion stream between them, and then there’s the maximum voltage that the power supply can produce.
      The larger the distance, the higher the voltage. The more the ion current, the lower the voltage. I’d hope the power supply is limited somehow so that it doesn’t produce over 7.5kV, then you’d be safe (assuming that’s a safe voltage).
      It would be good if you had a means of measuring the actual voltage across the electrodes. See the method using the Fluke high voltage probe here high voltage probe here
      I look forward to your build log!

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