Electrokinetic Propulsion

The history of Electrokinetic Propulsion studies dates back to the 1920s.  The acknowledged founder of the field is Thomas Townsend Brown who discovered the so-called Biefeld-Brown effect in the 1920s.

Throughout the Cold War years, intense efforts were made to develop this technology. In 1956 the famous "Electrogravitic Systems" report predicted imminent announcements by a number of the major aerospace companies of the day. Since that time, very little has been heard on the subject although the patent record shows work continuing into the late 1960s.

In 1952 the USA carried out Project Winterhaven to assess the claims of TT Brown.  The results were classified but are referenced in the 1956 Electrogravitics Systems report.

The Electrogravitics Systems report, apparently originally obtained from the Technical Library at Wright Patterson Air Force Base concludes:

"7.    Electrostatic energy sufficient to produce low speeds has already been demonstrated.  Generation of a region of positive electrostatic energy on one side of a plate and negative on the other sets up the same lift or propulsion effect as the pressure and suction below and above a wing, except that in the case of electrostatic application no airflow is necessary".

"8.   Electrostatic energy sufficient to produce a Mach 3 fighter is possible with megavolt energies and a k of over 10,000".

MIR came to the same conclusion independently:  that classical aerodynamic Lift and Drag are Electrostatic Effects.  The whole of fluid and aerodynamics can be modelled with electrostatics.

This is the Electrostatic Theory of Fluid Dynamics.

A moment's thought shows that the interactions of a fluid with a body immersed in it must follow electrostatic principles, since all mechanical interactions of matter fundamentally involve the interactions of electron wave fields.

This means that classical Lift and Drag are essentially identical with Electrokinetics.

It is also well known that the mathematics of plane potential flows is identical with that of electrostatics.

In 1990, Dennis Cravens of Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) carried out the Electric Propulsion Study (NASA report AD-A227121 AL-TR-89-040) on behalf of the USAF. This analysed the work of TT Brown and other researchers, while "reviewing inductive theories and experimental approaches which provide for interactions between gravitational and electromagnetic fields."

The report abstract goes on to say that:

"Specific recommendations are made for experiments that would both verify the theories and serve as a basis for electric propulsive systems that would convert between electromagnetic and inertial momentum".

Since 1997 there has been a resurgence of interest in the field, fuelled by the improved access to information made possible by the Internet. Numerous companies are working quietly in this field, including BAE and Honda. The field of Magnetohydrodynamics, actively pursued by the Russian Ajax program in the 1980s and the USA since the 1960s, is in effect identical with Electrokinetics or Electrogravitics.

Throughout the 1980s it was known that BAe was working on "anti-gravity" at Warton. They have closely followed the work of independent inventor Sandy Kidd. The internal BAe employee magazine presented artists concepts of an "anti-gravity vehicle" in the 1990s which are actually in MIR's opinion not very far from an accurate rendition.

BAe's research was led by Professor Brian Young, who died in 1994, 3 months before he was due to retire.  In 1992 Professor Young was appointed to a professorship at Salford University and lectured to both the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and on the Radio 4 Science Now program on the subject of anti-gravity.

The 5th April 2002 edition of Air & Cosmos (No. 1837) made Electrokinetics the subject of its front cover with a 5 page article by Alexandre Szames reviewing the history and latest activities to see the light of day.

An interesting development has been considerable amateur activity in building so called "Lifters" which Szames covers in the above article.

These Lifters are based on the work of Major A.P. de Seversky and GE Hagen.

Hagen's US Patent 3,120,363 published in 1958 shows the basic cellular structure of the electrostatic lifter concept.

Major de Seversky's concept (US Patent 3,130,945, published in 1959) is a more advanced lifter design.

Both de Seversky's and Hagen's patent were assigned to Electronatom Inc. in Long Island City.  In August 1964, Popular Mechanics visited the company and published an account of a demonstration of a model weighing 2 ounces.

"Without a sound the peculiar spiky contraption rose straight up, hovered awhile .... and just sat there silently in mid air".

The cellular structure of these "Lifters" allows for constructive wave interference between the wave sources in each cell.  This augments the overall efficiency and lifting power of the devices.  Pulsing of the electrostatic fields with a sawtooth or ideally a capacitor discharge relaxation oscillator type of waveform (in which the voltage rise is not a straight line as in a sawtooth but exponentially decreases) is also necessary.

In 2000 Hector Serrano was awarded international patent WO 00/58623 for "Propulsion Device and Method Employing Electric Fields for Producing Thrust".  Serrano does reference TT Brown and his device is very similar to the first patent Brown was awarded in 1928 (GB 300,311) for a stacked capacitor "Gravitator".

It is interesting to note that Figure 7 of Serrano's patent shows an entire space vehicle powered by his electric thruster.  The design of the vehicle is very similar to the privately developed Roton Rocket which NASA initially funded and from which it then withdrew support.

In 2001 NASA were awarded patents 6,317,310 and 6,411,493 "Apparatus for Generating Thrust Using a Two Dimensional Asymmetrical Capacitor Module".  This is essentially a copy of TT Brown's work and the operating principle is identical.  NASA make no reference to TT Brown.

Marcel Pages was one of the leading French post-war researchers in this field.  In French patent 1,253,902 Pages postulated that a rotating electric current would produce an anti-gravitational effect.  This current was produced by a circulating beam of electrons held in a toroidal vacuum tube.  Dr Jaegu Kim presented experimental confirmation of this in 1994 in a paper in the Journal of the Korean Physical Society.

Honda have recently entered the aerospace field with a light business jet and small turbofan engine of their own design (HF118). A joint venture is being established with GE to manufacture and market the engine and a production plant for the engine is being established. What is less well known is that Honda's R&D Institute have also carried out experimental investigation into TT Brown's results since the early 1990s, including the interesting variation in the effect observed with the phases of the Moon.  Measurable weight reductions of 0.8% were produced.

The B2 Bomber

Analysis of inconsistencies in the stated performance of the B2 bomber by the French scientist JL Petit and others (LaViolette) show that this aircraft is almost certainly an electrogravitic craft. Photographs have been taken of the leading edge glowing with plasma. The front aspect of the craft forms a tri-arcuate structure, similar to that found by TT Brown to be the optimal shape for an electrokinetic craft. This tri-arcuate electrode was the subject of a thesis by a USAF officer at Wright-Patterson in 1960 - an analysis entitled "Ion Wind Device" was sent for comment to Brown's company Whitehall Rand Inc.


Work is still being actively pursued by BAe and the USA into the field of Electrokinetics under the name of Magnetohydrodynamics or MHD.

In May 2002 DARPA issued a call for tenders under the SBIR program called "Multifunctional Light Structures for Space Vehicles".  This is an MHD program supposedly to match the capabilities of the Russian Ajax program from the 1980s.  As with Electrogravitics or Electrokinetics, there is a great gap between the 1950s and today in which the subject of MHD dropped out of sight and nothing seems to have been achieved.  Magnetoaerodynamics was actually born in the USA in 1957 - but work being carried out today still seems to cover the same ground and not to have progressed.

Selected References

1.   Electrokinetic Apparatus, US Patent 2,949,550  TT Brown.

2.   "Gravitational Field of a Moving Spinning Point Particle", Jaegu Kim, Journal of the Korean Physical Society, Vol. 27, October 1994.

3.   Theoretical Explanation of the Biefeld-Brown Effect, T. Musha, Honda R&D Institute.

4.   Electrogravitics - What It is or Might be, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, AV Cleaver, Vol 16, No. 2, 1957.

5. "Shuttle Propulsion Using Electromagnetic Force Fields", J. Cox, AIAA 17th Joint Propulsion Conference, 1981.

6. "Electric Propulsion Study", DJ Cravens, SAIC, 1990, NASA AD-A227121 or AL-TR-89-040.


Copyright 2005 Meridian International Research
Last updated 22/09/05