Institute of Special Technologies

Russian Academy of Sciences


Propulsors without mass transfer with the external environment

JSC Institute of Special Technologies RAS was established in 1995. Currently a number of research projects have been carried out on its own funds on the own initiative on the following topics:

  1. Propulsors without mass transfer with the external environment;
  2. Stepper propulsors;
  3. Pressure gradient propulsors;
  4. Creating a constant pressure gradient in a closed and semi-closed volume in gas and liquid medium.

Based on the review of scientific, technical and patent literature (from 1930 to 2013) and its analysis it was concluded that a new direction of activity is emerging in the world of scientific and technical practice — the creation of fundamentally new propulsors that will allow first of all dramatically expand technical capabilities in space exploration. It is obvious to us that the further development of this area of ​​scientific and technical activity will allow us to move on to the creation of universal propulsion devices for space, air and underwater vehicles for various purposes without the use of any working fluid (fuel), but using on-board sources of electricity or solar panels.
It is known that all the engines developed today and designed to create traction in various continuous medium or in outer space work on a reactive principle — either by discarding their environment or having some mass of the working fluid on board. However it is clear that the prospects for improving these engines over a hundred-year history of their development are already close to their physical limit and further work on their modernization within the framework of traditional approaches will no longer lead to a qualitative improvement in their technical characteristics and capabilities.
In connection with the current situation today when assessing the prospects for the development of modern engine building programs for creating engines that create traction due to other physical effects and principles are increasingly discussed and developed. As applied, for example, to space engines — a solar sail; gravitational tug; rotating oscillator in an external gravitational field; an engine interacting with an external magnetic field, etc.
In our country a number of monographs have been published on research into the possibility of creating propulsors without mass exchange with the environment. Currently, studies are being conducted in the USA, Great Britain and China to create a non-reactive method of motion using EmDrive technology (a propulsion system for spacecraft proposed by engineer Roger Shawyer uses a magnetron that generates microwaves in it, the energy of their oscillations is stored in a high-Q cavity, and, according to the author, the radiation is converted into jet thrust). This technology is patented in the UK by Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd. (author and developer — Roger Shawyer) and verified by NASA. In China, such studies are conducted at Northwestern Polytechnic University.
Chinese scientists and designers are currently preparing to fly into space an apparatus with non-reactive propulsion devices operating according to the above principle for testing in real space flight.
At our institute, a theoretical and experimental justification for new methods of mechanical motion of sealed systems of physical bodies (without mass transfer with the external environment) has been developed, as a result of which previously unknown possibilities of using a number of physical phenomena (mechanics and hydrodynamics) have been identified, on the basis of which the presence of motion of sealed systems of bodies has been experimentally verified, by creating within the latter a nonequilibrium state of kinetic energy between their components.
During the research work a special technique was created for measuring the traction force acting inside more than 30 versions of sealed mechanical systems, a test bench was created and more than 400 experiments were conducted.
The main conclusion: The reason for the manifestation of forces in material medium (bodies) is the nonequilibrium distribution of energy over the space of the medium (body), i.e. the presence of a kinetic energy gradient, which sets them in motion. To bring a mechanical system into unidirectional motion, it is necessary to bring it into a non-equilibrium energy state in which the «internal» forces acting on the set of bodies that make up the system are not balanced by the forces of «resistance to motion».
A system of bodies (or a material medium) limited by an airtight shell can be brought into a non-equilibrium energy state by means of electric energy transferred to it from internal or external sources, by converting the latter into mechanical energy, which allows to accomplish the unidirectional movement of such a system without mass transfer with the external environment.

Based on the research the classification of propulsors working without mass transfer with the external environment was carried out:

  1. Stepping (stepwise)
    They move the spacecraft a fixed distance without moving them further relative to a given reference point (in the end they do not accelerate the spacecraft and do not give them a relative speed).
  2. Pulsewise
    They accelerate (accelerate) the spacecraft with pulses with a certain frequency and ultimately accelerate the spacecraft and give them a relative speed.
  3. Step-pulsewise
    They can simultaneously or alternately carry out operations according to p. 1 and 2.
  4. Permanent action
    They move with the acceleration of the spacecraft like jet engines, but without using the release of any working fluid.
    A new type of propulsors based on the proposed methods is intended for correcting the orbit of the spacecraft lifting them to the height of the geostationary orbit and turning the plane of their orbit and can be used to automatically support the specified values of the parameters of their orbit. The propulsion unit is located inside a sealed spacecraft (currently existing engines are located on the outer part of the spacecraft hulls). This dramatically increases the engine resource and its reliability.

The advantages of the proposed method:

  1. The low starting weight of the propulsion device allows to reduce costs when launching a spacecraft into near-Earth orbit.
  2. The low cost of manufacture and operation of our propulsion systems is 20-100 times less than the currently used electric propulsion systems.
  3. For the power supply of the proposed propulsors it is sufficient to use standard solar batteries without their additional buildup.
  4. No need for consumable working fluid (no fuel or consumable required).
  5. Lack of environmental issues.
  6. The spacecraft can be placed in a non-Kapler orbit or the so-called levitated displaced orbit, its plane does not pass through the center of mass of the Earth.
  7. Easy to operate and high reliability.
  8. For the manufacture of the proposed propulsion there are enough technologies and materials that are used in modern engineering.
  9. The absence of restrictions on the technical resource of the propulsion by the criterion of energy consumption.

In the process of docking spacecraft during close proximity and mooring operations jet engines are used which are designed to perform maneuvers that require a large operating fluid consumption. The latter imposes strict limits on the number of maneuvers and repetitions of docking operations.
Proposed by us method of “step-by-step” movement in outer space will allow to create propulsion devices that simplify docking technology and allow long-term maneuvering without fuel consumption. The electric energy used for this is spent on the step-by-step motion of the spacecraft, which for each cycle of movement of the “working” bodies moves to a strictly specified distance and direction in space with a complete subsequent stop as a result near another space object with which it is necessary to dock. Such a step motion of the spacecraft can be carried out (including simultaneously) in three mutually perpendicular directions in space which will simplify the process of docking (undocking). The step length of the motion of the spacecraft can be regulated over a wide range (from tens of meters to millimeters). At the end of a certain number of steps (cycles) performed by the spacecraft when approaching another object it stops relative to the latter which allows the docking process to be carried out safely because the apparatus does not accumulate kinetic energy.
Such propulsors can be used for the safe assembly of large structures in space.

Application of stepper motors:

  1. A universal propulsor for off-ship activities.
  2. A spacesuit with a propulsion device for moving in space around the ISS.
  3. Radio-controlled apparatus for the ISS flyby and various operations.
  4. Inhabited capsule to move around QC and KS.
  5. Rescue capsule (module).
  6. System of safe docking / undocking.

To create a qualitatively new aircraft, it can be used the energy of atmospheric air pressure. As known, the atmosphere of the Earth crushes with a force of about 10 tons per 1 square meter of the surface of any object. If we reduce the pressure by 10% on one side of such a surface, we will get a pressure difference that will act on this surface with a force of 1 ton. Physical models of such a process were experimentally tested by our experts. This method of obtaining traction was 1.5-2 times more efficient and more economical than propellers. Propulsors based on this method are designed to equip vehicles for various purposes (land, water and air) in order to give them new qualities:

  1. Such a propulsor creates the conditions for the direct effect of the difference in atmospheric pressure and pressure in front of the power screen, which brings the vehicle body into translational motion which allows not to use mechanical coupling with the external environment.
  2. Its use leads to the lack of dependence of the operating mode of ground vehicles on the degree of adhesion to various road surfaces and the terrain of their load-bearing elements as well as the need for a drive on wheels, tracks, and other similar elements.
  3. It implements the movement of water vehicles without the use of propellers (and other similar devices) the ejection of any working material beyond their limits and various kinds of sailing means which will allow them to be used in difficult places in shallow water, swamps and move on ice as well as significantly increase their maneuverability.
  4. Universality: one and the same propulsor can be installed on any vehicle regardless of its purpose, shape and layout.
  5. The reliability of the vehicle is increased due to the modular design and the batch installation of several propulsion devices on it and the design layout is simplified.
  6. There is no downward air flow.
  7. An air vehicle based on several propulsors can carry cargo on an external sling which allows transporting very bulky goods as well as performing installation work at heights replacing a crane, extinguishing a fire on high-rise buildings and carrying out rapid evacuation of people.
  8. The presence of a sealed bottom on an air vehicle based on several propulsors will allow it to land and move on the surface of water bodies.
  9. An air vehicle will be able to fly in areas inaccessible to airplanes and helicopters — in mountainous areas, forests or cities.

A multi-purpose flying platform is a wingless vertically taking off vehicle in which the lifting force is created by the pressure difference between the external and internal surfaces of the propulsors and it can perform vertical take-off / landing and horizontal flight.
The next topic of the work is called «Method and device for creating a stationary smooth pressure gradient in a limited volume of a gas or liquid medium.» The method is based on known physical phenomena in aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. The proposed method allows to create a constant stationary smooth gradient of gas (liquid) pressure in a given direction inside a closed or semi-closed volume.
Devices creating such a pressure gradient make it possible to regulate its level by changing the magnitude of the electric current supplied to them. Currently, a pressure gradient of 12,500 Pa per meter has been obtained in the air chamber of the desktop version of the demonstrator (diameter 0.10 m and height 0.15 m), which created a lifting force of about 8 N and lifted a container weighing 0.8 kg. Since the density of the substance of the container was 1250 kg / m³ and exceeded the average density of the human body, it is possible to create conditions for human swimming in the air chamber. In an aqueous medium, such a device created such a pressure gradient that a steel bar floated from the bottom of the water barrel.


  1. Use in the preparation of astronauts:
    • the ability to simulate in terrestrial conditions a long state simulating weightlessness;
      the use of an adjustable gravity simulation on board a space station;
      special places for rest and sleep of astronauts when simulating a certain gravity while the pressure gradient can be adjusted in magnitude along and across the axis of the body;
      creating a constant pressure gradient in the entire volume of the spacecraft or space station, i.e. imitation of sensation «floor — ceiling».
  2. The proposed method allows for non-contact lifting (hovering of an object) and moving objects in a limited volume of air or water.
  3. Use this method to develop a technology for separating a mixture of substances according to their density.

The basis of all the obtained results is a new understanding of the cause of the occurrence and action of forces on bodies and environments, as well as the physical conditions necessary to create their movement.