Tuesday, April 6, 2021

So Much for Impulse Power

I've posted previously on NASA's  highly experimental EM drive, the electronic drive system that purports to generate thrust (albeit miniscule amounts) by bouncing microwaves around in an asymmetrical metal chamber, thus violating the Newton's Second Law (conservation of momentum) without a throwing out a reaction mass. If It's Too Good to Be True . . ., well, it probably isn't true.

Science Alert: In a Comprehensive Test, The 'Impossible' EM Drive Has Failed to Produce Thrust… Again

But in the spirit of scientific replication, a team at the Dresden University of Technology led by Professor Martin Tajmar rebuilt the Eagleworks experimental setup.

And they found squat.

Reporting their results in the Proceedings of Space Propulsion Conference 2020, Professor Tajmar said:

"We found out that the cause of the 'thrust' was a thermal effect. For our tests, we used NASAs EM Drive configuration from White et al. (which was used at the Eagleworks laboratories, because it is best documented and the results were published in the Journal of Propulsion and Power.)

With the aid of a new measuring scale structure and different suspension points of the same engine, we were able to reproduce apparent thrust forces similar to those measured by the NASA team, but also to make them disappear by means of a point suspension."

In essence, the Eagleworks EM Drive apparent thrust came from a heating of the scale they used to measure the thrust, not from any movement of the drive itself.

"When power flows into the EM Drive, the engine warms up. This also causes the fastening elements on the scale to warp, causing the scale to move to a new zero point. We were able to prevent that in an improved structure," Professor Tajmar continued.

His conclusion puts the final nail in the coffin for EM Drive dreams: "Our measurements refute all EM Drive claims by at least three orders of magnitude."

Well, darn. Much like the Nessy and Bigfoot, I was rooting for it, without much hope. 

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