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ELECTROPHORETIC THRUSTER - (TT BROWN 3,296,491)
In the present invention, the nonuniform fields are divergent fields. The divergent fields may be radial, wedge-shaped or conical. In such divergent fields, the ions are deflected, as well as accelerated, by electrophoretic forces. The effect commonly known as 'ion drag' also imparts momentum to the host medium. In divergent fields, the host medium is additionally influenced by electrohydrodynamic forces and tends to flow in the direction of the divergence. This effect is also known as electrostrictive hydrodynamics…
The host medium is the medium in which the emitter is operated. Usually, but not necessarily, the host medium is atmospheric air. A similar flow may be observed if the emitter is operated in other fluid dielectrics, such as transformer oil or gases at various pressures.
The two forces described above are influenced to some extent by a third force which is defined as dielectrophoretic. This force, also present in divergent fields, operates in the opposite direction and tends to move suspended polarized dielectric material from the peripheral electrode toward the central electrode of a radial generator [fig.1], or generally, from the larger electrode to the smaller. The tendency of the dielectrophoretic force is to move the suspended material into the electric field, ie, in the direction of convergence. It is observed in actual tests that dielectrophoretic forces in the present invention are relatively weak and usually are masked by the stronger electrophoretic (ion-drag) and electrohydrodynamic forces. Apparently, in the flat-vane and cylindrical emitters, subsequently described, operation results entirely from electrophoretic and electrohydrodynamic forces.
Ionization which takes place near the smaller electrode is caused by the EXTREMELY HIGH ELECTRIC GRADIENTS IN THIS REGION OF THE FIELD. This ionization results from the stripping of electrons from the air molecules and suspended fluid particles immediately adjacent to the electrode (see Electron Cascade page). The aero-ions or aerosol particles acquire their charge principally in the region of the smaller electrode. Upon acquiring a charge, the majority of aero-ions or charged aerosol particles follow the electric lines-of-force and move generally in the direction of the larger electrode but DO NOT STRIKE THAT ELECTRODE. In the case of the flat-vane ion generators, the observed flow pattern is first toward, then parallel to the surface of the larger electrode and continues in a relatively straight line downstream from the electrode. In the case of cylindrical generators, the flow is radial toward the walls of the cylinder, then out through the electrode apertures. It is obvious that this flow pattern DOES NOT RESULT FROM (NOR ENTIRELY CONFORM TO) SIMPLE ELECTROSTATIC (Coulomb) ATTRACTION, and because of this peculiar behavior the electrohydrodynamic force (electrostrictive hydrodynamics) is apparently largely responsible for the observed flow.
Additional ionization in the region of the smaller electrode can be provided by a radiation source, such as an ultra-violet lamp or radioactive material. The lamp or radioactive source may itself take the place of the smaller electrode so as to be in the proper position to feed ions most effectively into the divergent electrostatic field. Where radioactive material is used, the smaller electrode is composed of, or coated with, said material.
WHERE HEAVY METAL IONS ARE DESIRED, AS IN THE PRODUCTION OF THRUST, the smaller electrode is again modified. In this instance, the electrode may take the form of an electrically-heated tube containing molten cesium or other ionised or ionizable material. The tube is formed of tungsten sponge or the like so as to be permeable to said molten material. Upon reaching the outer surface of the tube, unipolar ions of the material are caught in the divergent electric field and ejected toward and beyond the larger electrode by the combination of propulsive forces described above…
The two electrodes [in figure 2] are maintained at different electrical potentials by high voltage power supply 15. The polarity may be reversed in order to reverse the polarity of the generated ions, but such reversal DOES NOT CHANGE the direction of flow either of the ions or the ambient medium. This basic structure is the same as that illustrated in two of the reference patents of which this is a continuation-in-part.
Figure  is a plan view of electrodes 10 and 12 showing the flow pattern of the ambient medium. It is to be noted that the flow is first divergent from the smaller electrode 10, then generally parallel to the surface of electrode 12 and projecting downstream therefrom in STRAIGHT LINES. The charged ambient medium in the region of electrode 10 is accelerated first toward, then beyond, electrode 12, so that the device, in effect, serves both as an ionizer and a thrust producing device…
In certain instances, it is found to be advantageous to substitute a wick in place of filiform electrode 10 or, alternatively, to sheath a wire electrode with wicking. The purpose is to more effectively conduct the liquid medium into the dispersing (atomizing) region. This type of atomizing results from the strong outward surface forces tending to 'explode' liquids adhering to an electrode in the region of intense electrostatic fields…
Figure  shows a structure similar to those shown in preceding figures except that an elongated ultra-violet lamp 28, such as a QUARTZ-TUBE mercury vapor lamp, is substituted for electrode 10. The lamp constitutes an electrode corresponding to electrode 10 in figure 1. In this embodiment of the invention, ultra-violet lamp 28 is energized by transformer 24. One side of the lamp can be grounded (as indicated), or the lamp can be made the highly charged electrode with electrode 12 grounded; in which case transformer 24 would have its secondary highly insulated from ground. Ultra-violet radiation from lamp 24 ionizes the air or other medium in the immediate vicinity of the lamp. Unipolar ions are selectively propelled by the field toward and beyond electrode 12, as indicated by the flow pattern of figure .
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