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magneto-hydrodynamic concepts

Posted by: timallard - Wed Feb 16, 2005 3:30 am
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magneto-hydrodynamic concepts 
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Post magneto-hydrodynamic concepts   Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 3:30 am
My main interests are with MHD concepts being used first to reduce drag, then to replace mechanical controls with MHD surfaces and finally for these to lead to MHD propulsion. The propulsion concept was patented in 1964 so this is nothing new, what is new is materials science so, now, AFAIK it's possible to build these systems into the vehicle surfaces without too much weight or current requirements.

Imagine a vehicle with no drag ... that's what MHD can do. It's worth a determined effort to discover and design new systems using composites that employ the MHD concepts that can actually use the air molecules to accelerate the vehicle instead of slowing it down. In space the faster you go the more efficient this type of system can become.

Hopefully this will twist some brains ...

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:45 am
Sounds nice, but do you have some informative links to share?


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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 1:24 pm
Ran a couple of Google searches on the subject, but nothing stuck out at me.

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Post magneto-hydrodynamic concepts   Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 2:35 pm
No links to post, this is individual research which I started in the late 1980's on the subject, found it was patented in the mid-1960's as a propulsion system for the upper atmosphere. AFAIK I'm the only person now pushing for using the concept, the only "expert" and the only person seriously trying to put together working systems. I did notify the Air Force in 1989 of the concept and how it could be used. They wanted me to become a contractor but I'm not really the super business person. I recently sent off some emails to NASA to assorted places and got no replies ...

Since I'm very interested in public space flight, I see where using certain surfaces of a vehicle for drag reduction and control can lead to aircraft that can use this idea for propulsion, but not until more basic research work is done. Would really like to become a member of a working team, my main occupation has been software design but I grew up with an interest in electro-magnetism and never lost it so picked up some electronics, plastics manufacturing along the way. Also, became proficient at patent specifications and drawings and believe this concept can lead to many aerospace and commerical aircraft products. This concept needs today's composite materials to become practical, I think that's why nothing was done previously.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:37 pm
I'm not sure if i would understand the concept if you would draw it out for us, but wouldnt it require a huge electro-magnet with equivelant power? Thus meaning that the advantages will be very slim over the disadvantage off weight.

I'm not sure if you can find a (new?) job through us, there are a handfull people who are working on great projects, but those are more (excuse me) realistic for now. Developing technology can only be done with lots of money and a lot of people.

But if you want, would you like to draw it out?


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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:40 pm
This looks like a very interesting topic, but I know next to nothing about MHD propulsion. I worked one summer at Garrett Air Research and they had a demonstration MHD electric generator powering the cafeteria, but I don't know much about it. And of course I saw the Hunt for Red October and the movie version of a MHD powered submarine. But I have no idea how the physics works or how it would apply to aircraft or space craft. Any links or more info?


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Post previous MHD research   Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 5:04 pm
To add some to my reply:

If anyone researches MHD you'll find in libraries work on power generation and some rocket engine ideas, rather fanciful in practical terms so nothing ever came of it. However, my ideas were to use the basic concept in altering the boundary layer, not in macro flow streams. This led to the discovery of the 1960's patent in just such a system. But it seems no one followed up on it and to me that was a big mistake. It won't take much alteration to significantly reduce drag over a wing surface by altering how and where turbulent drag forms. Now if you're talking fuel consuption, acceleration and flight control, instead of constantly overcoming drag and adding drag for control, this use of MHD can provide drag reduction for both level flight and control of the vehicle. That translates into fuel economy and faster acceleration, shorter take-offs, longer range. In space if offers a way to keep accelerating that becomes more efficient as speed increases.

As I said, leaving this type of research undone was a big mistake, it's a field of study that can change a lot about commerical and space vehicles that exemplify what people are currently assuming is the only way to do business. As a designer I've always had a skill at boiling down the process to basics and working at that level. Today I see a lot in space research that looks to even more complicated and refined gizmos and doesn't at all deal with the basics. My view is that renewed focus on the basics is the way to the future using the more refined composites and manufacturing techniques to impliment the concepts.

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Post power consumption and practicality   Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 5:22 pm
Stefan brings up the point of power requirements and practicalities. For a propulsion system it would seem to us at this time to take a huge generator and field coils to impliment and that is the reason I only propose drag reduction as a first goal of using MHD. This won't require massive current loads to work effectively and if you can imagine an aircraft without mechanical control surfaces, the weight and power trade-off of not requiring a lot of servos and pneumatics along with separate structural units seems at least equivalent verus MHD which would be implimented using surface coatings and flat field wirings and allowing a single structure with no moving parts.

So, I agree with you Stefan and others that a propulsion system seems outlandish and impractical, but I also now see where that opinion is only based on a lack of practical applications of MHD and not something inherent in the technology.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:04 pm
With a decent computer in control and granular control of your boundary layer, you could completely change the way an aircraft looks and is flown. A flying wing or lifting body could become even more efficient. Instead of edge controls, drag increases could move out ofver the wing in ripples topside or underside, or anything! Boogle.

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Post practical uses of MHD   Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:05 pm
Knowing the concern of being practical, say you have an existing vehicle design that can't quite make escape velocity, say it needs more fuel or more power. To anyone with this type of problem run the numbers, see how much drag reduction in your software model will allow the exisiting fuel or power to be adequate to the task.

Then estimate the real cost of increasing the size of fuel capacity or to refine the engine to have more power in dollars to your existing system to make it practical, and thus my argument is that it's very likely that this cost is in the same order of magnitude as installing a MHD system to produce the same results at this time in spite of the amount of basic research required. This is because the basic research is rather simple and can be done on standard wing sections in small wind tunnels, nothing fancy and rather straightforward to get proof of concept results that can be applied to the model for calibration.

For subsequent MHD systems this cost of course is reduced so long term this concept offers a cost savings to existing systems, they won't need much change to add MHD as they are simple additions of surfaces and circuitry, generation of power will increase but most systems have adequate power production to drive controls so the difference won't be very significant.

Then there is the real possibility that existing systems are overbuilt by virtue of having to push that much air instead of just accelerating. This changes the economy of the design, more payload is possible ... that means more passengers or cargo to existing vehicles if no changes are made to the powering systems.

Let these thoughts be paramount and leave MHD propulsion systems for later research.

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Post computer control   Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:14 pm
Right on Idiom ... all this is under computer control, plenty of possible shapes can be controlled this way. Rockets of course would use more linear concepts, quite simple to control and to apply overall drag reduction to improve acceleration and fuel economy.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:23 pm
What would having a magnetic field over your entire surface do to you radar signiture?

And having what? a near vacuum? as a boundary? what sort of optical effect would that cause?

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Post radar surface   Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:38 pm
Not certain what effects this would have on radar, it may redirect the energy into the field coils thus absorbing it, or, since my designs for lower atmospheric travel used ion generation to enhance the effect, there may be more reflectance.

Don't think there will be any optical effects since the energies are too small to affect the visible spectra much.

As for the boundary layer, it's not a vacume, it contains the same essential density of air molecules as the macro stream, the difference is that the layer will not be allowed to "stick" to the surface so the shear zone within the layer will be significantly less.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:43 pm
You mentioned a patent in the 1960's. Surely there is a document on file somewhere. For this kind of information, I'd be glad to write the patent office to get a copy.

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Post MHD propulsion patent   Posted on: Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:51 pm
spacecowboy wrote:
You mentioned a patent in the 1960's. Surely there is a document on file somewhere. For this kind of information, I'd be glad to write the patent office to get a copy.


I found the patent going through hard copies of abstracts and drawings at the Seattle downtown library, don't have the number handy but it was cross-reference to MHD. Have you tried to find it on the uspto website? There can be graphics for it to download ... since the system was specifically for upper atmospheric vehicles where ions are plentiful, it's only good as a conceptual model, won't be practical for the purpose of escaping the atmosphere from ground level.

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