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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ionocraft Lifter: Study of Airflow Around the Electrodes

Doesn't the title of this post sound all scientific and official?! Well it's just me messing around in my garage again, nothing too scientific about it. Last week HERE I wrote about an experiment that I wanted to try with the Ionocraft "Anti Gravity" Lifter that I built. Click on the above link to read more about it... But as I mentioned I wanted to put that device in my Schlieren setup and look at any airflow patterns that might be happening around and between the electrodes. Last week I did just that and I made a video to show the results. To backtrack a bit and explain what this is all about the Lifters or Ionocrafts are devices that some say create anti-gravity and fly around. Does anti-gravity exist or doesn't it? There seems to be much debate. I'm not convinced by either side so I thought I'd throw my hat in the debate ring and look into it myself.

The first thing that I did was build a Ionocraft with instruction that I got off the web from THIS site by Jean-Louis Naudin. Once I had done that I put it in my home made Schlieren setup to look for any air currents around the electrodes. Those interested in Schlieren can read about it by looking at my Schlieren Topic or reading this post HERE for details on the setup I am using. Below is a picture of what I built. The top picture is the Ionocraft and the lower picture is a time lapse long exposure of it powered up. I couldn't see the purple corona, only after taking the long exposure 'night shot' with my camera in what appeared to be total darkness was it visible.

TOP: Ionocraft Bottom: Long exposure pic

Below are some pictures of what I saw while this was operating in front of the Schlieren mirror. It is clear that there is a lot of air flowing around the high voltage upper electrode wire and also in the surrounding area.

The first thing that I noticed when turning the power on is that the airflow around and between the electrodes is not smooth at all. There appears to be a great deal of turbulence with a significant amount of air moving in an upward direction, not down. Have a look at the pictures below.

Ionocraft in front of Schlieren mirror - powered Off
Ionocraft in front of Schlieren mirror - powered On

The two pictures above are screen shots from the video I made of the Ionocraft running in the Schlieren setup. The first picture is for reference and there is no power to the device. In the second picture the power has been applied and you can see turbulent airflow around the electrodes. Most interesting is that quite a significant amount of air is moving up and away from the lower electrode, not down toward it. You can see the 'fronts' of air motion in the second picture that look like clouds. I would think that this airflow would detract from the overall lifting force generated by this device. Additionally in the video below it is clear that the airflow is extremely turbulent and chaotic. I would also assume that the turbulence would amount to wasted energy in the system because some amount of energy is going in to pushing the air around in all sorts of directions and not just down toward the larger electrode.

I made several short videos in the Schlieren with various lighting settings and filters to try and get a better view of the effect. The two screen shots below are also from the video and were made using a red and green colored filter arrangement. Again the first picture is for reference only to see the difference, the power is turned off.
Ionocraft in front of Schlieren mirror - powered Off
Ionocraft in front of Schlieren mirror - powered On
In the second picture the power is turned on and again you can see similar turbulent airflow around and above the upper electrode wire.
After playing around with this I have come to a couple of conclusions. The first one is the airflow created with this type of device in it's existing condition is not producing an efficient airflow in one direction and therefore is not an efficient design. Second is the predominantly downward airflow is far from being a smooth laminar airflow resulting in a lot of wasted energy.
I think that with a better design of the electrode shapes and orientations a more efficient transfer of energy could be achieved and would maximize the lifting force created in the device. I'm not sure yet what those shapes would be but I have some ideas based on what I have seen in the Schlieren setup. Does all this amount to anti-gravity? Is there some force other than the understood Biefeld-Brown force going on here?

The next thing that I want to try, and have started trying, is experimenting with different electrode shapes and sizes and comparing the airflow created with each. Based on some initial tests I have a pretty good idea of what might work best. below is a screen shot from a video that I might out up showing what I am talking about.

Schlieren Photograph of High Voltage Wires

You can see in the above screen shot the two wires that have a high voltage potential. The wire on the left side is a ground wire and the wire on the right is the high voltage positive. There are 'jets' of moving air coming off of each of them almost like water squirting out a hose end. The effect is much more visible in the video that I am in the process of making. Unfortunately my HV power supply is now broken and I have to build a new one. I picked up a 37" Sony TV from a garage sale today and I'm going to take it apart this evening. Once I have a reliable high voltage power supply running again I plan on experimenting more with electrode shapes with the goal of getting a good laminar airflow.

If you have any questions about any of this please leave a comment or send me an email a ottobelden @ In the meantime check out the video to see the lifter tests I did - Enjoy!


  1. According to my understanding of ionocrafts, they work by ionizing gasses in the air, and repelling the particles from the anode. This would imply that they are repelled from all sides of the anode, including upwards. With this in mind I have devised a theory to increase the efficiency of the ionocraft. If you place a magnet above the ionocraft that has the same polarity as the charged particles they should be repelled from the magnet in a downward direction, as well as repelling the magnet away from the particles in an upwardly direction. Similarly, if you were to place similar magnets around the ionocraft, they should focus the particles to an extent. Please correct me if I'm wrong, and if this is a plausible theory, test it, as I have no way of testing it myself.

  2. Anonymous,
    Thanks for checking out my blog, I'm glad you found it interesting. I like the magnet idea that you offer, I think that is a neat thing to try. I am going to do more testing with high voltage in my Schlieren setup and in conjunction with a small wind tunnel that I am building.
    I'll try placing some magnets around the electrodes, on different sides and in different orientations and observe the effects. I'll post about it here on my blog when I do.
    Have you read this Wikipedia entry:
    You might find it interesting. Fell free to contact me if you have any other suggestions.
    - Otto