WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
As we see breakthroughs in materials and control systems this concept might just be possible …
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So far we’ve seen all kinds of new aircraft propulsion systems prototyped and trialled, from common-a-garden electric and hydrogen powered aircraft, through to ones that are powered by biofuels and nothing more than the ionising gas in the air, and now a new kind of space race could emerge if the physics actually support the theory behind Eather One which could be powered by little more than friction and movement.
Designer Michal Bonikowski’s concept is probably four or five generations ahead of the current mode of thinking, but he says he was inspired by the recent Maveric concept by Airbus.
“That aircraft’s unique design helps reduce drag while providing more cabin space,” he said. “I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and wondered what could happen if a big company created an electric plane.”
Courtesy: Michal Bonikowski
What the Warsaw-based designer came up with is potentially revolutionary. Eather One uses friction between the air and high speeds of the jet as its primary source of renewable, on-demand energy.
While it looks like a jet from the future the primary difference between Eather One and contemporary hybrid aircraft are the triboelectric nanogenerators in the wings – not only do these novel mini-generators exist but they’re actually being lined up for some pretty weird new energy projects that even include using them to extract energy from the blood in people’s bodies to power medical gadgets like implanted medical devices and everything else for that matter.
The nanogenerators convert mechanical energy directly into electrical energy and in this case the aircraft doesn’t need fuel tanks or large battery banks since it will generate electricity directly from air molecules in the troposphere and stratosphere.
As Eather One travels at high speeds Bonikowski’s idea is to harness the friction generated from vibrations in the airframe and bend of the wings. The converted energy will power the electric motors and recharge on board batteries and it’s an interesting concept that actually could have some legs to it.
This readymade source of power means that Eather One will require smaller battery packs than aircraft relying on stored battery power alone. Bonikowski concedes that his aircraft will need some battery packs during frictionless points during take-off and landing.
Needless to say this concept may never fly out of the realm of sci-fi, but it demonstrates the same out-of-the-box thinking that powered the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk.
“I enjoy all attempts to revolutionize flying,” says Bonikowski, who also designed a new kind of rotorcraft called the Fusion Copter, and as the technologies mature and improve who knows one day you might be flying in a plane powered by nanotech… and friction.