You have a material that greatly enhances electric and magnetic sources or electro-magnetism in general.

In this world, the material, is known to be a naturally occurring liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface. It would be commonly refined into various types of fuels or blended with other liquids to achieve different proprieties and meet a variety of uses.

When this material gets used, which is purely only possible through human interaction, it generates heat, which becomes greater, the longer it is being used.

The ships pictured below, have to be able to transport heavy cargo, stored in containers of the same shape and size.

These ships should be able to levitate above the ground, while being active and, fly at speeds of up to 120km/h at a height of approx. 300 meters.

Choosing either of the pictured designs, what would be the most simple, technically possible, engine/ moving apparatus, to move such a transport, without or minimally affecting its design?

EDIT: The transports have lengths of up to 70 meters and weigh up to 300 tons, comparable to commercial airliners. I could make them possibly 30% lighter though if necessary.

I also want to clarify that a possible theory should be as close as possible to reality but doesn't have to strictly follow every aspect of it. It can also be related to current theories in quantum mechanics.

Ships design

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding.SE! I've got a couple of questions for you, just to clarify things. Firstly, how much do these transports weigh approximately? That'll affect how much power is needed to move them. Secondly, what do you mean by "purely only possible through human interaction"? $\endgroup$
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ I like the pictures. Yours? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ @F1Krazy Thank you! My apologies for not being clear enough. The transports have lengths of up to 70 meters and weigh up to 300 tons, comparable to commercial airliners. I could make them possibly 30% lighter though if necessary. Please disregard what I wrote about human interaction with the material. It is not of any importance for this matter, I should have left it out. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 22:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Willk Glad you like them. Yes, I drew them. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ Please note, if you break energy conservation (like your heat producing material does), you are as far off from reality as you can be. With energy conservation violation, you can start violating pretty much anything else. $\endgroup$
    – Whitecold
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 12:01

3 Answers 3


I pick 1, because it is plausibly a hot air balloon.

It is hard to envision leveraging yourself up against the unmodified earth (i.e. no rails or tracks) just using magnetism.

But you have stuff which gets hot as you use it. You can use it to heat gas. The hotter the gas, the less dense it is. Hot enough and it has a density low enough to be buoyant and float. Enough low density gas and you can lift other objects - you have a hot air balloon. Hot air balloons are not fiction.

You can calculate the amount of lift - the maximum would be a "vacuum balloon" and so able to lift a weight equal to the volume of atmosphere of the same size. I am not sure how big your top one is because I am not sure if the lines under it are tiny people - if so, it is big. If that silver stuff is plastic (not metal) it will be able to lift a fair bit. I pick it because the shiny thing in the center I take to be the hot gas reservoir and it is more central than in the more angular brown ships.

As regards your material: you will be using it to produce heat but also to produce propulsion via ducts, propellors or what have you.

If you are really going to heat up your air, it is worth noting that flames (hot air) start at 600C. If your air is hot enough it will glow.

  • $\begingroup$ I had been considering to use the hot air balloon principle but sought it impossible due to the large weight of the ship. My understanding is that you need a high ratio of less dense air in comparison to weight to gain lift and that for an 800kg balloon you need to get the temperature to be at about 120°C. What is the highest temperature possible and at which point does the air or gas stop to generate lift? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ Theoretical maximum lift is with a vacuum or absence of gas. As you get a gas hotter and hotter its density approaches that of vacuum along an asymptotic line. You could assume very hot gas had the lift power of the same quantity of vacuum - that is it can lift the same amount of atmosphere it displaces. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/87057/… goes into that - a cubic meter of vacuum can lift 1.29 kg. 800 kg requires 620 m^3 of superhot gas to lift it. 1000 m^3 is ~the size of a shipping container. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ That's great. So if I make the inner area larger in volume than the ring structure containing it, I can achieve what I want, correct? How hot does the air have to be, in order to achieve vacuum? Thank you for your detailed and quick replies! $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ You will never achieve zero density with hot air but air gets less and less dense as it gets hotter and hotter. Check the graphs here engineeringtoolbox.com/air-density-specific-weight-d_600.html $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 23:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Willk I choose your answer because it is the most simple and can be easily applied to my design without much alteration. With other materials that I have in my world, I am able to make the ships light but also strong enough to lift with a fairly low amount of heat but also withstand it for long durations. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 10:23

The fact the the material (at least from my reading) seems to be violating the conservation of energy opens many doors. The most straightforward application of this would be to apply it to existing e-mobility solutions. (i.e. electric planes, cars, busses).

You mentioned this "enhanced" emf sources. This could be applied to energy storage systems to yield a greater energy/mass ratio. This could also increase the efficiency of the electric motors. As most motors currently are somewhere between 78-92% efficient. (https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/electrical-motor-efficiency-d_655.html)

When Li-Po batteries are cycled they produce large amounts of heat. The bigger the battery and faster the draw, the more heat is produced and I imagine with your enhancer material would only increase this effect, especially because you said its use also creates heat.

In addition, any electrical component produces some amount of heat. Specifically in an electric motor, heat is produced in the windings mainly due to resistance. To get more magnetism (more torque) for the same form factor you need more amperage flowing through more wire loops. More loops in the same form factor mean smaller diameter wire. Smaller wire and more current mean more resistance and more heat. When I read your question I imagined the liquid to have some sort of damping on Ohm's law. I pictured instead of V = IR, V= IR/4.

So while there is less heat from the motor itself, there is more from the batteries, the liquid being used in the batteries, and the liquid in the motor. All in all a net positive amount of heat. This heat could be compensated for by using more active cooling, like the cooling system in your car's engine, (powered by the better batteries) or passively cooled in-flight. Passive in flight cooling, like whats used on jet engines today, (https://www.sae.org/news/2018/08/parker-aerospace-and-gkn-aerospace-to-develop-passive-cooling-solutions-for-next-generation-aircraft-engines) uses the lower ambient air temperature and high air flow rate to cool very hot components of airplanes that would otherwise melt.

In regards to the ship, I would recommend the second one as it seems to have the center of gravity most centralized (good for an easily controllable and build able ship). In addition it has a flat-ish area underneath that could conceivably house props.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your time! Really sorry for not answering earlier...I've had a crazy week. What you pointed out looks extremely useful. I just want to be sure I am getting everything straight: $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ -When you talk about energy storage systems and efficiency of electric motors, in which way do you imagine those changes may apply to the new transports? How could speed, material resistance, fuel consumption, heat generation be influenced by those factors in your opinion? Also could you better elaborate how the heat could be compensated for using more cooling or passively cooled in-flight? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ what do you mean by material resistance?, also I made an edit that should add some clarification. $\endgroup$
    – kknight
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your reply and the thought you’ve put into it. I might be able to apply the batteries as I could distribute them evenly throughout the ship and generate more heat through the wire loops you have mentioned. Sadly, as I want to keep designs and mechanics as simple as possible, I cannot select your reply as my final choice. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 10:20

For achieving flight, you have essentially three options:

Hydrostatic lift

As mentioned in another answer, superheating gas allows you to produce lift, essentially building an airship. The downside to this is that this requires an enormous volume as a lift body attached to your ship, which significantly alters their shape.

Hydrodynamic Lift

You could alternatively superheat air inside a compressor, and eject it out the back, making a fuel-free jet engine. This generates thrust, which can be turned into lift using a pair of wings. The downside is your craft now is not only the size of an airplane, but looks exactly like an airplane.

Pure thrust

If you don't care about efficiency at all, you can point your engines downwards, and lift yourself on pure thrust. Since you are using free energy, you don't care about fuel efficiency, but the thing will be still enormously loud, highly unsafe to any engine failure, and inferior to an airplane design

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately I believe that I cannot apply any of your suggestions to my idea. Hydrostatic lift cannot be applied to an airship and super heated gas is not used in one either. The principle of a hot air balloon is a different matter and has been explained very well by @Willk and doesn’t make huge alterations on the pictured ships necessary to my understanding. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ With hydrodynamic lift I assume you mean aerodynamic lift which is not an option for me. Pure thrust is not an option for me either as it would put too much stress onto a (human) being, interacting with the fuel. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 10:19

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