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New “air plasma engine” works without fossil fuels

This article originally featured in The Skylark’s newsletter and was written as a condensed news in brief.

A new prototype jet engine has been developed without the use of fossil fuels, potentially creating opportunities for carbon free air travel. The device creates plasma by compressing air and ionizing it with microwaves. This process produces thrust which would propel the plane forward using just electricity and the air around the plane.

The prototype is a long way from becoming a reality. In a test, the machine was able to lift a one kilogram ball just 24 millimetres into the air. That may sound small, but it is the same thrust proportionate to scale as a conventional jet engine. With the aviation industry accounting for a significant proportion of transport emissions, this could become an important milestone in the search for carbon free air propulsion.

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