‘Ionic wind’ could power planes, save energy and fight wild weather

THE wind is nothing if not capricious. It can be a gentle breeze, making fallen leaves dance and clothes flutter on the washing line. Or it could blow a gale, tearing down trees and power cables and creating all types of damage. But what if we’re able to switch the wind on / off at the push of a button, or turn it along with a dial?

We’re not discussing a mechanical desk fan here. There is, since it happens, such a thing as electric wind – airflow induced by electric fields, no moving parts required. We’ve known about the phenomenon for years and years, but it is merely in the past couple of years that we attended to comprehend electric wind with the precision had a need to control it.

Now the task is to put it to work. Engineers have already flown a straightforward aircraft pushed along by electric wind. We may

use a gentler, finely tuned breeze to greatly help increase the efficiency of professional processes like steel-making and lubricate our transition to a greener energy system. Ultimately, we would even make make use of it to protect ourselves against the destructive force of natural winds too.

“Contraptions manufactured from foil and wire will hover in mid-air, supported by the electric wind”

Electric wind, sometimes called ionic wind, was uncovered in 1709 by Francis Hauksbee the Elder, then your curator of instruments for the Royal Society of London. Hauksbee reported that he rubbed a glass tube to give it a static charge and, when he held it near his cheek, he could feel a gentle force. Isaac Newton repeated …

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