Lifter Experiments

During the weekend of March 30-31, 2002, a series of experiments was conducted to determine what percentage of lift of this device is due to ion wind, and what percentage due to other effects.  We have seen an experiment done with an anemometer placed below a lifter, but we felt this measurement did not accurately measure the complete flow of air through and around a lifter, and that experiment gave no accurate determination of ion wind on the total lift component.  We decided to better pin down ion wind's contribution to lift.  

A standard 7 inch lifter was constructed and tested.  It weighs in at 1.80 grams. 

First, we had to isolate the lifter to eliminate air flow due to ion wind. A triangular enclosure was built of 10 inch balsa strips, covered with polyethylene from a dry cleaning bag.  The HV and ground wires enter the box through opposite corners.  Next, we taped a  support stick across the top of the enclosure and suspended it from a triple beam scale.  The scale used is accurate to 0.01 gram.


Scale on shelf, with lifter and box suspended from tray.  With balsa and ply enclosure and support sticks, cellophane tape, etc., total weight was 20.01 grams.

Applying the full 20 kV, a faint hiss was heard.  The scale indicated a net loss of 0.03 grams.  There was concern that the proximity of the work bench to the lifter assembly might be skewing the readings, so we decided to redo the setup so that the lifter was suspended in the middle of the room, far from any external influence.

One of the experimenters, measuring the distance from the lifter housing to the support plank, floor, other objects in room.  Measured distance to plank was 26 inches - other measurements were 26 to 29 inches.  Floor is wood, and earth ground is approximately 10 feet below.

Scale clamped to end of 5 foot long plank, 66 inches above floor.  Part of the suspension rig can be seen dangling from the scale.  With the new suspension system, total weight of lifter, housing, and suspension rig was 32.90 grams.

We reran the HV wires and began our second test.  Initially, we saw a minimal loss of weight, but let the experiment run longer than before.  After 20 seconds or so, we saw the weight slowly drop to a total of 0.24 grams loss and level out.  We reversed polarity and got a similar negative weight loss reading.  We turned the lifter and housing upside down and reran the test.  It still showed a loss of weight, and again showed a loss of weight, regardless of polarity.  All our measurements show a loss of weight when power is applied, and polarity of power to the lifter does not change this loss.  Even turning the lifter upside down did not reverse the loss of weight.  Our best determination of the small loss is that it is due to some small electrostatic force between the lifter and the surrounding room, though it might be possible that the weight loss is due to some other as-yet undetermined phenomenon.

The 0.24 gram weight loss, as compared to the 32.9 gram test unit represents a negative change of weight of 0.73 of one percent, a very tiny amount.  Definitely NOT enough to ever lift the 1.80 gram craft.

Next, we decided to mount the lifter on a test stand, with no housing to restrict air flow, so that we could measure the contribution of the ion wind on lift. Below is one of the experimenters with the exposed lifter suspended below the scale.  The lifer is positioned so that any air flow is directed upward, pushing the scale platform down.

Total measure weight gain from the upside-down lifter was 1.90 grams, which would be barely sufficient to overcome gravity.

Ion wind contribution to lift:         1.90 grams  or 88.785 % of total lift

Non-ion wind lift:                       0.24 grams.  or 11.215% of total lift

Total lift:                                    2.14 grams  lift

Our tests indicate that the vast majority of lift comes from ion wind thrust.  There is a small, but significant reduction in lifter weight that could be due to electrostatic influences with the surrounding environment, though more experimentation will be required.

Our work does NOT support other experimenter's contention that ion wind represents only 6% of lift.  Indeed, plain old electrostatic forces, especially generation of an ion wind,  appear to be the major, if not the entire source of lift.

The aluminum skirt on the bottom of the lifter is analogous to the skirt surrounding the bottom of conventional hovercraft - increasing the ground-effect of the downward flowing air.  We will soon build a new lifter that will prove or disprove this skirt theory.  We fully expect the triangular lifter will be unable to lift itself without a skirt, whether it be aluminum or plastic, but that it will be able to lift itself with an aluminum or plastic skirt.  A plastic skirt will probably weigh less than aluminum, reducing the weight of the craft and increasing its lifting capacity.

The experimenters were Bert Pool, Wild Bill Emery, and Jason Lutes, all of Fort Worth, Texas.

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