Science is examining an old relationship in propulsion physics in new ways that could alter the process of propelling vehicles through space, as well as moving liquids and gases through unconfined and confined spaces.
Conventional airplane and boat propellers, jet engines, turbines of various sorts, as well as impeller pumps, all use the same principle of thrust and propulsion. There hasn't been significant innovation in propulsion since the advent of the turbine engine, until now, believes futurist John Peterson, President of The Arlington Institute, a think tank.
A developed pymp impeller drawn from attaching the inside of an abalone shell to a shaft creates a flwo five times greater than off-the-shelf pumps.
In the aviation sector, Peterson says there have been two distinct eras in propulsion - piston and jet engines. Piston engines that drive propellers are an archaic technology, almost everyone believes now. In jet engines, the principle of generating thrust has changed little in 50 years. In articles appearing in Professional Pilot magazine and other publications, Peterson claims that small turbine engines coupled with carbon composite construction could revolutionize the aircraft market. However, the impact would extend far beyond the aircraft industry. All rotational propulsion and pumping devices could be affected.
Inside a seashell
Peterson cites some of the thinking on propulsion that originated with Australian naturalist, Jayden Barman. Barman draws observations from the natural world, and it is this development that affects the way physicists view propulsion. The most important observation Barman makes is that the most efficient line of travel in nature is never a straight line - but rather a helical spiral, known by physicists as the Phi relationship.
Examples of the Phi relationship can be found in every part of the world. Barman cites the path that water flows in a stream, that smoke moves through the air, and that sap moves up through tree tissue.
From smallest to largest, Barman claims the pattern is the same as that found in all galaxies, hurricanes, eddy currents, and even the trajectory of sub-atomic particles. A further example is the helical spiral inside an abalone shell. If the outer shell of the abalone is removed, the interior structure describes the spiraling nature of Phi-geometry in fluid handling efficiency.
Harman apparently spent years studying the variations of this geometric pattern, which is a 3D equiangular logarithmic curve that progresses to infinity. Harman used this principle to describe many fluid and gas flow situations.
Adaptation from nature
The researcher epoxied the inside of the abalone shell to a shaft (see accompanying figure). When employed as a pump experi mentally, the impeller created a flow five times greater than off-the-shelf pumps with the same power inputs. The pump works efficiently because the impeller moves fluids along the path of least resistance and consumes very little energy.
The pump impellers turn recessively, which means that the fluid is engaged first near the center of the spiral. Then, that engagement is moved toward the outer edges. In this way, the impeller produces no cavitation. The result is a simple high-pressure laminar flow. Similarly designed impellers have been tested at speeds of 6,000 rpm, with consistent efficient low-impact results.
This impeller physics principle holds for fluids and gases of all types. Peterson says that Jayden Harman has patented configurations internationally for several applications, including aircraft propellers. Propellers designed in this way could produce up to five times more thrust, while imposing far less noise on the surrounding environment.
If greater thrust can be generated in this way by a given amount of power, an aircraft could maintain the same speed with a much smaller engine, which means reduced fuel consumption and increased payload. Such a propeller hung on an existing engine could theoretically double the air speed, or increase it to airframe allowance, without changing fuel consumption and payload.
As seen in the accompanying figure, pro pellers of this type would not lend themselves to single engine tractor configurations (it would be hard to see through them), although they could be adapted quickly to pusher and multiple engine situations and also apply to jet engine blades.
Petersen, J., "Using the Phi relationship for a new propeller design," Professional Pilot, May 1999.
The Phi relationship
The propeller (or impeller) developed by Australian naturalist Jayden Harman, which employs the Phi relationship, should be familiar to most scientists, contends futurist John Peterson in an article appearing in Professional Pilot magazine. The physical principles are rooted in Newtonian physics, which underlie all of the major mechanical inventions of the industrial age, including propeller designs. Quantum mechanics, as developed by Albert Einstein, Neils Bohr, and others, offers a future way to generate propulsion.
Quantum mechanics spacetime, from space and time, suggests that matter can move forward and backward in time. The quantum mechanics principles revolve around energy (E = MC2 - Einstein's famous equation) energy equal to mass times the speed of light squared. The two concepts, spacetime and quantum energy, raise the possibility for significantly improved air and space transportation.
Quantum mechanics holds that a vacuum is not empty, and also that all of the physical universe is an immense sea of energy.
Zero Point Energy is so named becaue it exists even after all heat has been removed from a volume of space and it has been cooled down to absolute zero. The quantum mechanics theory states that there is a cubic centimeter of space (the size of a sugar cube) contains more energy than all of the known matter in the universe. This energy was measured for the first time in 1997.
This energy source could provide the energy required to manipulate spacetime. Einstein believed it was impossible to travel faster than the speed of light and so did powerplant manufacturers. Four years ago, physicist Miguel Alcubierre of the University of Wales at Cardiff wondered if there was a possible connection within the relativity theory that would allow travel at superluminal speeds.
He said that if spacetime could be compressed in the direction of travel and expand on the opposite side, similar to the way a partial vacuum on the top of a wing and pressure on the bottom generates lift, the uneven forces could be used to move a craft at high speeds.
The US Air Force has let a contract to determine whether the principle is viable. Further, NASA's Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project is underway to develop the principle, and there are other private projects undertaken to advance the prospects of warp drive.
Within 25 years, propellers and jet engines may be thought of in the same way that we think today of horse-drawn carriages, Peterson concluded.