Direct Thrust Measurements of an EMDrive and Evaluation of Possible Side-Effects

The Emdrive has been proposed as a propellantless space propulsion.

NASA had investigated and found measurable propulsion.

Now German researchers Emdrive experiments have eliminated other possible sources of error and still measure a small (20 micronewtons) of propulsive force.

There is a lot of discussion of the Emdrive experiment on the NASA space flight forum.

Cavity Length(m) = 0.0686
Big Diameter(m) = 0.0541
Small Diameter(m) = 0.0385
Dielectric = None
Frequency = 2.44Ghz
Input Power = 700w (output of magnetron)
Pressure = 4×10^-6
Q = 20.3 (seems like this was measured and calculated after they finished all reported testing)
Force (milliNewtons) = 0.02 (20 micronewtons)

Martin Tajmar has looked at other possibile alternative space propulsion approaches.

* He looked at using “negative matter” from a theoretical perspective — theoretical because of the difficulty of producing such a substance, which is not as easy as simple antimatter.

* He has investigated claims of “electrostatic torque,” a twisting force meant to occur between charged spheres, and found the supposed anomaly was due to a slight asymmetry in the experimental setup.

* He experimented to look into claims of gravitational shielding with spinning superconductors. This led to a better understanding of sources of error in high-precision gyroscope measurements. These are cases where an apparatus apparently producing small anomalous forces needed to be examined closely.

Paul March had provided updates on the EMdrive and Cannae drive experiments at Eagleworks NASA in April.

If one envisions the quantum vacuum (Q-V) as a semi-virtual electrical plasma as Dr. White does, that would imply that the Poynting power flow vector would entrain the Q-V plasma and send it on its way toward the pillbox end of the cavity and then out of the cavity, the back-reaction on the cavity should be in the opposite direction towards the RF feed end of the Cannae test article, but the observed thrust vector is opposite to that surmise, i.e. toward the shorter RF sense antenna end of the cavity per the attached slide.

Now Per the newly authored Q-V plasma simulation code that Dr. White just finished, the equal bidirectional Q-V plasma flow for the Cannae cavity comes from the high-Q pancake section with a Q of ~9,000 for the un-slotted version of the cavity. However due to the high E-field region created n the throat of the RF feed, this cylindrically shaped high E-field volume acts as an obstruction to the Q-V plasma flow. This E-field obstruction created in the PTFE cylinder then accelerates the Q-V plasma around it in a Bernoulli like effect that accelerates the Q-V plasma flow coming from the main pillbox cavity. This unbalanced and accelerated Q-V plasma flow that goes away from the large pill box cavity in the direction of the RF input section is what generates the NET thrust in our model.

Next, using this new Q-V plasma simulation tool that utilizes the instantaneous E&M fields from COMSOL for one complete RF cycle in 5 degree increments as its input file, we are now seeing why we need the PTFE or HDPE dielectrics in the frustum while using near pure sine wave power levels below ~100W in the ~2.0 GHz frequency range to generate detectable thrust, and why Shawyer and the Chinese didn’t while pumping 80W to 2,500W using magnetron RF sources. We think the reasons are two fold.

The first is that Shawyer and the Chinese both used magnetron RF sources for their experiments. An RF source that generates large AM, FM and PM modulation of the carrier wave with typical FM modulation bandwidth on the order of at least +/-20 MHz. (These time rate to change of energy modulations increase the Q-V density in our model.)

The second reason we found running these 3D Q-V plasma simulations for the EMPTY copper frustum, was that increasing the input power tends to focus the Q-V plasma flow from near omnidirectional from the frustum at low powers, to a much more jet like beam at higher powers measured in kW to tens of kW-rf. In fact the simulation for the 100W run predicted only ~50uN for our pure RF system with dielectric, while the 10kW run predicted a thrust level of ~6.0 Newton without a dielectric in the cavity. And at 100kW-rf it was now up to ~1300 Newton, but the input power to thrust production nonlinearity was starting to taper off around 50kW. Of course these Q-V plasma thrust predictions are based on the Q-V not being immutable and non-degradable, a feature we admit is not widely accepted by the mainstream physics community, at least at the moment.

Due to the above non-linear thrust scaling with input power predictions, we have started the build up of a 100W-to-1,200W waveguide magnetron RF power system that will drive one of our aluminum RF frustum cavities. Initially the test rig will follow Shawyer’s first generation test rig that used a tetter-totter balance system in air only to see if we can generate similar thrust levels that Shawyer reported using a hermetic sealed box, which were in the ~16 to 300 milli-Newton range dependent on the Q-Factor of the frustum.

The other EMdrive experiment status

– Shawyer experiments in ambient air (as well as newer superconducting designs) are now kept under a shroud of secrecy.

– Chinese mid-to-high power experimental results (~ 2000 W) in ambient air are on the contrary regularly published in academic journals, but are still uncertain because Pr. Juan Yang is not able to share additional data, and spurious causes like air currents are not ruled-out.

There is information from Paul March on the testing of the controversial EMDrive at NASA Eagleworks. Paul commented on the NASA spaceflight forum.

Summary of EMdrive Past work

Experimental Thrust is at 50 micronewtons but need at least 100 micronewtons to go to Glenn Research Center (GRC) for a replication effort in the next few months

The NASA Eagleworks Lab is still working on the copper frustum thruster that was reported on last summer at the AIAA/JPC. They have now confirmed that there is a thrust signature in a hard vacuum (~5.0×10^-6 Torr) in both the forward direction, (approx. +50 micro-Newton (uN) with 50W at 1,937.115 MHz), and the reversed direction, (up to -16uN with a failing RF amp), when the thruster is rotated 180 degrees on the torque pendulum. However they continue to fight through RF amplifier failures brought on by having to operate them in a hard vacuum with few $$$ resources to fix them when they break, so the desired data is coming along very slowly. They are still working on obtaining enough data though that will allow us to go to Glenn Research Center (GRC) for a replication effort in the next few months. However that will only happen if they can make the thrust signature large enough since the GRC thrust stand can only measure down to ~50uN, so we have to get the thrust signature up to at least 100uN before they can go to GRC.

As to the theoretical side of Q-Thrusters, Dr. White has just developed the first cut at a quantum vacuum (QV) based plasma code written in C+ under Windows/Unix and VMD visualization software that utilizes the COMSOL E&M derived field data for a given thruster geometry that allows one to track the movement and velocity of a subset of the QV’s electron/positron neutral plasma pairs in the thruster over time as they respond to the applied time varying RF E&M fields in the copper frustum resonant cavity and to each other. This package also allows one to calculate the expected thrust for a given input power and quality factor of the frustum resonant cavity based of standard plasma rocket physics. So far the estimated thrust verses experimental observations are within 2% for the first experimental data run I compared it to, but we still have a long, long road ahead of us of experimental validation before we have any real confidence in this very new Q-Thruster design tool.

Six months ago there was the big splash from the EMdrive and Cannae drive results.

The 21 page Anomalous Thrust Production from an RF Test Device Measured on a Low-Thrust Torsion Pendulum paper is online at Libertarian News.

Abstract – Anomalous Thrust Production from an RF Test Device Measured on a Low-Thrust Torsion Pendulum

This paper describes the test campaigns designed to investigate and demonstrate viability of using classical magnetoplasmadynamics to obtain a propulsive momentum transfer via the quantum vacuum virtual plasma. This paper will not address the physics of the quantum vacuum plasma thruster (QVPT), but instead will describe the recent test campaign. In addition, it contains a brief description of the supporting radio frequency (RF) field analysis, ssons learned, and potential applications of the technology to space exploration missions. During the first (Cannae) portion of the campaign, approximately 40 micronewtons of thrust were observed in an RF resonant cavity test article excited at approximately 935 megahertz and 28 watts. During the subsequent (tapered cavity) portion of the campaign, approximately 91 micronewtons of thrust were observed in an RF resonant cavity test article excited at approximately 1933 megahertz and 17 watts. Testing was performed on a low-thrust torsion pendulum that is capable of detecting force at a single-digit micronewton level. Test campaign results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma.

From the Full paper

Talk Polywell had an interesting comment on the full paper

Eagleworks tested one tapered (frustum) cavity, aka Shawyer’s EmDrive; and two Cannae drives which are also asymmetric but different resonant cavities. The Cannae drive is said to work on a purported different principle than the EmDrive, according to its inventor Guido Fetta (a net Lorentz force imbalance of electrons upon top vs bottom wall of the cavity). According to this purported working principle, one Cannae drive had radial slots on its rim as required by Fetta in order to produce net thrust, and the second Cannae drive didn’t have those slits and was intended to be a “null test device”. But the Cannae null test article… also produced net thrust (20 to 40 µN of net thrust depending of the forward or backward direction).

The null device having thrust means that the Cannae drive theory that the slits mattered was not true. However, this is irrelevant as to whether the Cannae drive produces thrust. Another theoretical explanation is needed but the anomalous thrust remains

We’re talking of net thrust because of course the setup was also tested with a null 50 ohm load connected, in order to cancel the effect from the drives and detect any detect any spurious force due to EM coupling with the whole apparatus (which exists, at 9.6 µN) and this “null” spurious force was evidently subtracted from any thrust signal due to the drives then tested on the pendulum.

All tests articles (the EmDrive version, the Cannae drive version, and even the Cannae “null test” version) had a dielectric embedded within. This is a hint for a different theoretical explanation involving EM fields, proper acceleration, mass fluctuation and dielectrics. Maybe Mach effects (due to Mach’s principle), as supposed by Woodward and Fearn within the GR theory, or within a scalar-tensor theory of gravity according to Minotti.

The Cannae drive website from 2011 is still available on the web archive. Guido Fetta’s Q drive work and his expectation to revolutionize space travel are on the site.

Fetta’s experimental results are detailed. Also, numerical work and what he believes are the Principles.

EMDrive thrust does not seem to scale with higher Q with these tests

What space missions are possible with early versions if this is true?

Based on test data and theoretical model development, the expected thrust to power for initial flight applications is expected to be in the 0.4 newton per kilowatt electric (N/kWe) range, which is about seven times higher than the current state of the art Hall thruster in use on orbit today. The following figures show the value proposition for this class of electric propulsion. A conservative 300 kilowatt solar electric propulsion roundtrip human exploration class mission to Mars/Deimos. A 90 metric ton 2 megawatt (MW) nuclear electric propulsion mission to Mars that has considerable reduction in transit times due to having a thrust to mass ratio greater than the gravitational acceleration of the Sun (0.6 milli-g’s at 1 AU). The same spacecraft mass performing a roundtrip mission to the Saturn system spending over a year around two moons of interest, Titan and Enceladus. Even in this last class of mission which requires only a single heavy lift launch vehicle, the mission has less mission duration than is common with a current conjunction-class Mars mission using chemical propulsion systems and which would require multiple heavy lift launch vehicles. 300 kW SEP Roundtrip Mission to Mars Deimos (50 day stay) departing from DRO 300 kW SEP

What are the next research steps ?

The lessons learned with antenna design and location have been factored in and the design of both the drive and sense antenna s have been explicitly optimized to excite the RF thruster at the target frequency and mode (e.g.,the optimal location has been analytically determined). The thrust performance of this next generation tapered test article has been analytically determined to be in the 0.1 newton per kilowatt regime. Vacuum compatible RF amplifiers with power ranges of up to 125 watts will allow testing at vacuum conditions which was not possible using our current RF amplifiers due to the presence of electrolytic capacitors. The tapered thruster has a mechanical design such that it will be able to hold pressure at 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi) inside of the thruster body while the thruster is tested at vacuum to preclude glow discharge within the thruster body while it is being operated at high power. A phase lock loop (PLL) solution has already been implemented and evaluated at the 1 GHz frequency range, and is being tailored to be able to support testing at multiple set points all the way up to 2.5 GHz. The near term objective is to complete a Q -thruster breadboard test article that is capable of being shipped to other locations which possess the ability to measure low thrust for independent verification and validation (IV&V) of the technology. The current plan is to support an IV&V test campaign at the Glenn Research Center (GRC) using their low thrust torsion pendulum followed by a repeat campaign at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) using their low thrust torsion pendulum. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has also expressed an interest in performing a Cavendish Balance style test with the IV and V shipset

SOURCES – AIAA, Nasa space flight forum, Wired UK