Writing that the EmDrive is going full steam ahead would be somewhat of an understatement. Besides the obvious pun, British inventor Roger Shawyer was now able to have his latest patent application for a next-generation superconducting thruster published by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
So his controversial development to allow us real space propulsion is going ahead and as planned. You can actually check out the patent describing a thruster, featuring a single flat superconducting plate on one end and a unique, non-superconducting shaped plate on the other.
If you have been following technology like this more closely, you probably know that the renowned inventor needs to minimize the unavoidable internal Doppler effect. If you haven’t learned about that shift, it’s the change in frequency or wavelength of a wave for an observer moving relative to its source.
Shawyer ‘solves’ this problem to some degree by using circular polarization and a phase-locked loop to control the microwave input to the thruster, which then maximizes thrust while accelerating.
In a recent interview, Shawyer told IBTimes UK that he already submitted the patent for the next-generation microwave thrusters 18 months ago. At the moment, his patent is very difficult and pretty expensive to produce, mostly due to the fact that a shaped non-superconducting end plate needs to be mounted on a sapphire substrate. Mr. Shawyer went on to say that:
“This is pretty significant because it enables you to easily manufacture these things, and we want to produce thousands of them […] The patent makes the construction of a viable superconducting thruster easier, and it will produce a lot of thrust.”
Even though we’re all probably aware that we won’t trek the stars faster than the speed of light by tomorrow morning, but having this ground-breaking stuff patented is important and thrilling. We can now concentrate on producing the other technology needed and can go step by step leading up to the first planned tests in ‘real space’!