Home Science & Technology A plasma engine runs on clean air and electricity A plasma engine runs on clean air and electricityA large part of humanity's carbon dioxide emissions comes from air travel, but now scientists have developed a jet engine that uses plasma produced entirely from the air. Science & Technology 2023-05-26 by Space Navy 0 Comment A large part of humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions comes from air travel, but now scientists have developed a jet engine that uses plasma produced entirely from the air. About 2.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to passenger flights, and the percentage is constantly increasing. Now Chinese scientists at the University of Wuhan have succeeded in developing a jet engine that uses only air and electricity as propulsion. The Chinese even believe that it will be possible to expand the engine and use it to power a passenger plane. Air is compressed in the engine tube, where it is ionized with the help of microwaves produced in a so-called microwave generator with a power of 1,000 watts. The ionized air turns into a plasma that activates and creates an exhaust that provides propulsion. VIDEO: Here you can see a plasma engine lifting a steel ball in a laboratory. The prototype is capable of lifting a steel ball weighing one kilogram, and scientists believe its propulsion power is equivalent to that of a jet engine. Plasma can be used for air travel Plasma is one of the four states of matter, the others being solid, liquid and gaseous. Plasma is formed in nature when molecules in gases are ionized at high temperatures (eg in the sun) or in a powerful electromagnetic field (eg in lightning) . Plasma is, among other things, used in neon lights and television screens, and actually already in engines. Here’s how the engine works – in a nutshell: An air compressor in the jet engine initiates an initial flow of air, which is ionized in plasma and heated to high temperatures and high pressures by powerful microwaves. Older plasma engines produced a very limited amount of thrust, which is absolutely sufficient for a vehicle such as NASA’s Dawn high-altitude probe that moves in space where there is no air resistance. Low propulsion power can become high speed over months and years of acceleration. However, this is not the case in the atmosphere. The new engine may therefore cause current fluctuations. Scientists still have a big problem to overcome, but by that they have to test and find the right materials for the plasma engine. Plasma heats up so enormously that it melts most materials.