Revolutionary space engine developed!

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Revolutionary space engine developed!

OK, if this isn't a joke, or hoax, this is amazing...
Translated using babelfish from German. Hopefully a better translation will appear soon...
HERE
The idea is 20 years old and was conceived by Manfred Hettmer, president of the austrian mars society. A new plasma-engine based on "Alfven-waves" could increase the thrust of a rocket while at the same time drastically reducing its fuel consumption. At least that is the theory.

And in practice, in tests the plasma-engine achieved fuel savings of around 90%, which is no small thing: "A sattellites weight is 50% fuel, because its fuel determines its life time. Without engines the sattellite could not keep it's exact position", says project coordinator Andreas Grassauer.

The basis of the development is a discovery by nobel prize winning physicist Hannes Alfven in the year 1942. Alfven was researching, among other things, magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), which describes the interaction between an electically conductive fluid with electic and magnetic fields, and also the propagation of waves in the fluid - now known as "Alfven-waves".

Now, for the first time, there is a technical implementation of the "Alfwen-waves", that, in Grassauer's words, "could be the start of a new era in rocket engine technology". The main feature of the technology is a ten times higher escape speed, that can otherwise only be achieved by a fusion engine, which doesn't exist yet. The measurements were taken on a prototype engine in a vacuum chamber. Also, corrosion of the engine is avoided since the thrust is achieved using the magnetic jet on the outside.

Economically, there has been some interest in the project already. Besides Grassauer and Hettmer the experimental physicist Norbery Frischauf, system engineer Tobias Bartusch and Otto Koudelka of the TU Graz are also involved. On the 15th of October the plasma-engine will be shown for the first time at the convention of the Internation Aeronatic Federation (FAI) in Japan.
By netchicken: posted on 17-10-2005

Now discussed on Slashdot. It might be the real thing, In which case its a massive breakthrough.

"There are reports of a working magnetic field engine prototype based on Alfvén waves designed by Austrian scientists. According to the reports fuel savings in rocket engines of 90% could be achieved. Other benefits include enhanced durability due to the nozzle forming outside the engine."

Abstract - It was in 1942, when the later Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén [wikipedia.org] published a letter, stating, that oscillating magnetic fields can accelerate ionised matter via magneto hydrodynamic interactions in a wave like fashion.

These waves were later called "Alfvén waves ", in honour of their discoverer. Although the evidence for Alfvén's hypothesis came already rather early with the observation of certain plasma phenomena, such as being connected with high solar wind Wolf-Rayet stars, more than 60 years had to pass by before a technical implementation of Alfvén waves for propulsive purposes was proposed for the first time.

The name of the concept, utilising Alfvén waves to accelerate ionised matter for propulsive purposes, is MOA - Magnetic field Oscillating Amplified thruster.

Alfvén waves are generated by making use of two coils, one being permanently powered and serving also as magnetic nozzle, the other one being switched on and off in a cyclic way, deforming the field lines of the overall system.

It is this deformation that generates Alfvén waves, which are in the next step used to transport and compress the propulsive medium, in theory leading to a propulsion system with a much higher performance than any other electric propulsion system.

Based on computer simulations, which we conducted to get a first estimate on the performance of the system, MOA is a highly flexible propulsion system, whose performance parameters might easily be adapted, by changing the mass flow and/or the power level.

As such the system is capable to deliver a maximum specific impulse of 13116 s (12.87 mN) at a power level of 11.16 kW, using Xe as propellant, but can also be attuned to provide a thrust of 236.5 mN (2411 s) at 6.15 kW of power.

Although a dual-use system, space propulsion is expected to be the prime application for MOA. As MOA works best in high-power mode and with ionised matter, utilisation concepts range from a high-efficient Nuclear Electric Propulsion System, to an 'afterburner' for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Systems.

This wide range of applications makes MOA a unique accessory for any nuclear propulsion system to overcome specific concept drawbacks, allowing a full-fledged hybrid nuclear propulsion system, with attune able thrust / specific impulse parameters, perfectly suited for nearly all types of space missions.

This article will be presented on Friday, October 21 2005, 08h30m at the 56th International Astronautical Congress [iac2005.org] in Fukuoka, Japan.
By netchicken: posted on 17-10-2005








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