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Charged ions and high pressure

  1. Oct 2, 2013 #1
    I apologize if this is the wrong category,

    Hello, this is my first time posting.
    I loved physics concepts and theories when I was younger but after taking two physics classes in college I realized that I was struggling with the math and had to give up on my dream to become a theoretical physicist.

    Having said that I always think about how to solve or improve things with my limited knowledge of physics (maybe applied science). After seeing documentaries on aircraft travelling at mach 3 or faster and the challenges faced by heat I started thinking.. That brings me to my question:

    Can aerodynamic friction/heat be reduced by ionizing or charging the wing surface of the aircraft when traveling through the Earth’s atmosphere (Nitrogen/Oxygen)? Can any other benefits can be realized? Radar/light spectrum bending/disruption?

    My thought would be to create a charged field that would ‘repel’ oppositely charged particles to reduce drag/friction that those particles cause. Maybe an ultrasonic field would do this also?
    I don’t have the physics knowledge about this but I would like to learn.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2013 #2
    What makes you think there would be any charged particles when the airplane is traveling through air?
  4. Oct 2, 2013 #3
    Oxygen has an Ionic charge of 2- and Nitrogen is 3-, noble gasses do not have a charge.
  5. Oct 2, 2013 #4
    I believe I am trying to explain refers to Coulomb's law and the interaction between charged particles. I was just wondering if anyone had any type of practical experience.
  6. Oct 3, 2013 #5
    Oxygen and nitrogen gas (O2 and N2) are what you are more likely to find in the atmosphere, and they are neutral in charge, as they are more stable that way. There would be very little charged particles in the atmosphere (percentage-wise) except maybe in the event of a storm or something like that, because charged particles are inclined to react with other particles to become more stable.

    I can't really help with what it would actually achieve though, as I have no practical experience.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  7. Oct 3, 2013 #6
    well for the sake of an argument lets imagine that the air would be full with charged particles , but how does it help you ? if the plane would be charged too that means it' s bod while flying through would interact with those charged particles thus slowing the plane down , coulomb electrostatic field interaction is very strong by the way.

    the way to think is how to get the stuff that is ahead of you out of the way , what you said is how to go from one way of friction to another way.
    The only way this would work is if you could somehow manage to say set the plane at some + potential and have a positive air potential at the back of the plane and negative at the front.But that is merely science fiction as already said by others you cannot make earths atmosphere that charged.

    If you could create a vacuum in front of the plane now that would be something.
  8. Oct 3, 2013 #7


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    Those are the charges that oxygen and nitrogen tend to have when they are ionically bonded in a compound. That doesn't mean that they are always ionized - all of the oxygen and nitrogen floating around in the earth's atmosphere is neutrally charged.
  9. Oct 7, 2013 #8
    Thank you all for the information, I appreciate the answers.

    Back to the drawing board!
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