0
$\begingroup$

Can using blimps to hold power lines and implement laser filamentation of ablout 7 meter span from the source of power for a contact free power supply to power an electric engine (designed to run on super high voltage low amperage) plane or blimp be done in this way?

enter image description here

Battery weight prevents an efficient means of travel and we are far from creating a battery light enough to be efficient. The plane does the lifting not the rail. In the event of a plane stall the whole rail would slowly descend safely.

enter image description here

enter image description here

I could not find pictures were anyone had done this with weather balloons. Could enough whether balloons be chained to even climb it?

Electricity arcing along a straight path of ions created by the high temperature laser on top picture transfers the most efficient way to transfer large amount of electricity or power without a wire currently. The air acts as a natural insulator can be projected accurately miles long if needed. The planes laser would shoot the rail many times a second and electricity would travel back to the plane with almost no loss of efficiency in transmission.

Related:

https://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/16980/what-are-the-hurdles-to-overcome-before-purely-electric-commercial-aircraft-can

What would make Electric Airlines possible?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Even if this is possible, why not just do a hyperloop (tunnel with evacuated air) or monorail (rail close to the ground)? Why is it important to get the rail as far off the ground as a plane? $\endgroup$ – Brythan Aug 5 '17 at 3:12
  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure a laser ionizing miles or air, and a lightning rod are lighter than batteries? If you are tethered a few miles from infrastructure what is the point of a drone not needing to refuel? $\endgroup$ – user25818 Aug 5 '17 at 4:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It would seem much simpler, and much more efficient, just to use the electricity to synthesize a hydrocarbon fuel. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Aug 5 '17 at 17:11
3
$\begingroup$

Liek Myrabo has taken that idea to 11 by bypassing electrification and harnessing the power of lasers to directly power aerodynes and spacecraft, something he calls a "Lightcraft".

enter image description here

Basic concept. The mirror on the bottom focuses the laser so intently the air explodes into a plasma for thrust

enter image description here

Model of the lightcraft

enter image description here

Model Lightcraft under laser power

While sadly the funding for this research has not been forthcoming, there have been proof of principle flights and open air flights, so this does work. (more about this here)

Now strictly speaking this is a ramjet or thermal rocket (depending on if you are using air as the reaction mass or an on board propellant like water or liquid hydrogen), but since the laser itself is likely to be electrically powered, then you could make the case this is an electric aircraft.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Myrabo has done calculations for laser powered spacecraft up to the size of the Space Shuttle, so in theory there is no limit beyond how much laser energy you can send. The best way to use this technology is to blast into a ballistic path and coast, using a laser at the receiving end to provide thrust to brake and land. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Jan 29 '18 at 4:26
  • $\begingroup$ I thought the concept was clear enough, laser energy from an off board laser shines on the focusing mirror and the focused laser energy turns air (or injected reaction mass) into plasma for thrust. You will be traveling at hypersonic speeds fairly quickly (since this was designed to launch ships into orbit). A ground laser shines on the craft, it lifts off and accelerates to speed, coasts in a ballistic arc to the destination and a second laser shines on the craft to land for suborbital flight. London to Sydney Australia in 2hrs. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Jan 29 '18 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ Of course there would be attenuation of a laser in atmosphere, but the loss of electrical conductivity over distance is, as a rule, worse than directed EM radiation. $\endgroup$ – jdunlop Jan 30 '18 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/103487/… I based this question off your answer what do you think? please please edit if you can. $\endgroup$ – Muze the good Troll. Jan 31 '18 at 3:47
6
$\begingroup$

This is potentially more a physics.stackexchange.com question than a worldbuilding one, but my (relative) layman's viewpoint:

Lightning (artificial or natural) is really hard to harness efficiently. In order to get an arc you need extremely high voltage, which, generally, means ultra-low amperage to go with it, unless you have an excessive amount of power. This means that you'd need ultra-heavy-duty circuits to handle the power, supercapacitors to be able to store the power in such a short window, etc.

This would also be extraordinarily dangerous, since, even with laser-induced ionization, you could run into the "rails" grounding out if a better path (say, natural lightning's positive trailers?) offered itself - which is far more likely in the air than with conventional electrified rails.

I'm also skeptical of "almost no loss of electricity". The energy expended by the ionizing laser is almost certainly lost in its entirety, and since what you're creating is effectively artificial lightning, you're losing energy to light and heat generated by its transmission as well.

Of potentially greater merit - if you've got a laser powerful enough to ionize the air to allow the electricity to arc to your receiver on the aircraft, why not skip the middleman and have photovoltaics on the aircraft to receive beamed power from the ground? It has to be more efficient, and this is actually a thing that has been demonstrated.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ You can think what you want; wireless delivery of electricity in bulk is no more efficient than collimated light delivery. Also, the longest distance over which laser filaments can deliver electricity is in the range of single-digit metres - not really practical for the speed and range of heavier-than-air flight. $\endgroup$ – jdunlop Jan 30 '18 at 2:18
  • $\begingroup$ A laser isn't a "really focused flashlight". The proof of concept was a focused flashlight, but was also inside a building and focused on a UAV. Tends to be cheaper that way. A practical beamed-power system would presumably use laser light to reduce both spread and attenuation. $\endgroup$ – jdunlop Jan 30 '18 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ Additional supporting information: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ – jdunlop Jan 30 '18 at 2:37
1
$\begingroup$

One big problem that I see from the three images of the balloon chain is that the chain is not straight. In the image with the pink balloons, if you could follow that path with any vehicle I doubt that it would be comfortable at over 60 mph. So if the plane is to go 500 mph, then the wire needs to be very straight which means very stiff and thus very heavy. By very heavy, I mean to the point where it isn't cost effective to hold them up with balloons.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ That requires a fine day from point A to point B, so the plane service would be at the mercy of the weather. As the speed of the plane increases the turbulence from the plane affects the balloon. $\endgroup$ – Jim Wolford Feb 4 '18 at 6:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.