Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

In today’s age, carbon-free emissions are seen as a viable solution for combating climate change. In traditional engines, carbon is emitted through the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide are some of the biggest contributors to climate change. The biggest causes of pollution come from factories, cars, planes, as well as shipping boats. China has come out with a new prototype jet engine that may be the solution to reducing the carbon footprint of air travel.

How it Works:

This new prototype works by compressing air and using microwaves to ionize the compressed air. This in turn causes plasma, which is the fourth state of matter, to be used as propulsion. Plasma is a very abundant form of matter in the universe, being in stars, earth’s lightning, as well as in a fire. The results of tests conducted by a team of scientists from the Institute of Technological Sciences at Wuhan University show that the amount of power produced by this engine is comparable to that of jet engines used in aircraft today. This is very beneficial because it allows us to keep the aircraft design, allows us to reoutfit existing aircraft, and allows us to get more power without causing more pollution. This incredible invention may allow us to travel faster, safer, and help us to cut back on carbon footprints. There are increasing applications with plasma and may allow us to one day break free of earth’s gravity and reach space in a more cost-friendly way.

Not To Be Confused With An Ion Thruster:

This new technology may not be something entirely new, however. Nasa Created a new thruster with the hopes of not having to burn fuel. However, these can only be used effectively in space for the time being. They provide very little lift and are very ineffective on earth. The new plasmatic jet engine, however, can be used effectively on earth. This provides very large amounts of thrust and is comparable to normal jet engines used in today’s application. Ion thrusters are also all-electric, but they accelerate ions which in turn produce thrust because of Newton’s third law of motion, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The attributes are different thus causing different results, which can be seen in the difference in performance between the ion thruster and the plasmatic jet engine.

The Dumbest Science Experiment Ever:

Fossil Fuels have been used for thousands of years. In the form of petroleum, coal, liquid fuels, and gaseous fuels. In the past few decades, however, we are seeing that this is a big mistake. Big companies are now starting to combat fossil fuels through many different solutions. One such company is Tesla. Tesla has created all-electric cars that produce virtually no carbon footprints whatsoever. The factories that build cars also run off of solar power. Tesla also has supercharging stations that run off of solar power. CEO and founder, Elon Musk, said in a podcast interview with Joe Rogan, “We’re really playing a crazy game here with the atmosphere and the oceans. We’re taking vast amounts of carbon from deep underground and putting this neat into the atmosphere, this is crazy! We should not do this, it’s very dangerous so we should accelerate the transition to sustainable energy. The bizarre thing is we’re obviously going to run out of oil in the long term. We must have sustainable energy transport and energy infrastructure in the long term. We know that’s the endpoint, so why take trillions of tons of carbon from underground and put it in the atmosphere and oceans? This is an insane experiment. The dumbest experiment in human history.” So with this new jet engine technology, it seems as if we are accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. What he says makes a lot of sense because eventually the fuel is going to run out, and the only thing left is going to be sustainable energy, so why not transition now. Not to mention the very bad effects of pulling carbon from the ground and putting it into the atmosphere and oceans. Planes fly in the atmosphere, so by burning fossil fuels, they are distributed almost immediately into the atmosphere. With this new technology, the atmosphere may see less pollution and may even help the earth heal itself.

What Can We Expect In The Future?

What we should expect is that this technology eventually gets perfected and we can travel around the earth through the flight with very minimal carbon emissions. We can also expect to maybe see a decrease in the levels of carbon dioxide, thus making some of the effects of climate change more dismal. With this, we may even see safer flights, as well as a new era of technology. Plasma may be the future, and since this jet technology now exists, it could be very near.

Works Cited

Delbert, Caroline. “Wait, Could Plasma Thrusters Really Replace Jet Engines?” Popular Mechanics, Popular Mechanics, 9 May 2020, www.popularmechanics.com/science/a32405613/microwave-air-plasma-thrusters-compete-jet-engines/.

Dunbar, Brian. “Ion Propulsion.” NASA, NASA, 18 Aug. 2015, www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/about/fs21grc.html.

MacDonald, Fiona. “Elon Musk Warns We’re Living Through The ‘Dumbest Experiment in Human History.’” ScienceAlert, www.sciencealert.com/elon-musk-says-we-re-probably-living-in-a-simulation-and-warns-agains-our-insane-experiment-with-coal.

Makichuk, Dave. “Chinese Researchers Create Prototype Plasma Jet Engine.” Asia Times, 30 May 2020, asiatimes.com/2020/05/chinese-researchers-create-prototype-plasma-jet-engine/.

“Newton’s Third Law of Motion.” NASA, NASA, www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/newton3.html. 

 “The Complete History Of Fossil Fuels.” OilPrice.com, 1 Jan. 1970,     oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/The-Complete-History-Of-Fossil-Fuels.html.

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