The ‘Pulsing’ Electrostatic Field Engine

Science without religion is lame, religion without Science is blind…
A religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance of those super-personal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of a rational foundation…
Subtle is the Lord, but malicious he is not… (Nature hides her secret because of her essential loftiness, but not by means of ruse)…
–Albert Einstein

 …The following is a ‘paper’ I wrote in 1996 for Mr. Norman Augustine, lately the ‘head’ of the “what to do with NASA commission?”, but at that time Mr. Augustine was the CEO of Lockheed-Martin, a defense contractor.    

Mr. Augustine came to Georgia Tech to present ‘The Woodruff (Mechanical Engineering School) Lecture’ that year.  I attended the lecture that year, and at the end of the lecture when Mr. Augustine invited questions from the audience I rose and asked several questions about an application of a ‘pulsing’ electrostatic field engine for space travel.

Now even though my questions were edited out of the official transcripts; the dean of the ME school at that point was Dr Larson, whose specialty was MHD, and who had ironically recruited me for a Fellowship in MHD Studies, about ten years previously. 

Now Mr Augustine was interested enough in my questions to invite me to attend the reception, afterwards… I explained my concept of this engine to Mr. Augustine and he gave me his business card and invited me to prepare a descriptive report on Phil’s Engine and send it to him, and he (Mr. Augustine) would have his VP of Special Projects get in touch with me. 

I prepared the report and sent it.  I did not hear back after a couple of  months, so I called his office telephone number at Lockheed-Martin and found out that Mr. Augustine had retired. 

Phil’s Engine

The (Pulsing) Electrostatic Field Engine

Aside & Update:

Years ago, I had training in college in MagnetoHydroDynamics (MHD), which is a big word meaning the physics of a “plasma”, which is an electrically conducting fluid. [Magneto=magnetic, Hydro=fluid, Dynamics=movement) Keep in mind that well over 99% of the matter in the universe exists as a “plasma” & the movement of a “charged” particle is coupled with (creates) a magnetic field.

Now I met “Phil” in 1981 while working with a well-known consulting firm in Atlanta. Phil was a mechanical engineering grad from Auburn, who while vacationing on the beach in Florida with his family in the 1970s – saw a “flying saucer” in flight & passing overhead. With what he had seen, Phil developed an interest in researching everything in the history concerning flying saucers – and, he had an interesting collection of sketches and witness testimony from history books & the Bible. l found the sketches most helpful in developing my theory of how these spacecraft might operate: the Pulsing Electrostatic Field Engine, for inter-stellar space travel. A large engine produces more “power” than all the power plants on this earth, combined (in ~2012)… And, travel to Mars will be a “day trip”: leave earth in the morning, lunch on Mars and return to earth; all in the same day.


In the early 1800’s Faraday discovered that by changing the magnetic field (flux) in the vicinity of a conductor – he could induce a current in the conductor. Later Maxwell (hats off to him) developed the equations for the Electric and Magnetic fields. From this work, today we have the very useful electric motor/generator. Later Einstein in his paper the “Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” dealt with the asymmetries between the conductor and the magnet and further developed this theory. Now the most famous result of Einstein’s work was his special theory of relativity and the result that the speed of light was a constant value in any inertial reference frame. But something else…

Consider a stationary charged particle. In the presence of an electrostatic field, there will be a single force on the particle (either attractive or repulsive), called the Coulomb force, [F = qE = qQ/r^2]. However, as the charged particle is accelerated by the E field and begins to move, an additional force is induced, called the motional magnetic force. [F(mag) = v/c X B] . This force causes the motion of the charged particle to develop into a helix as it moves away from the spacecraft. It is by virtue of this force (and motion) that travel into deep space becomes feasible.

Such for the Maxwell/Einstein asymmetries……..

The (Pulsing) Electrostatic Field Engine is essentially a very powerful electric engine. The propulsion is developed by coulomb repulsion of a plasma by a rapidly charging (and discharging) “wing”. The control of flight is by a magnetic field superimposed on the plasma as it is accelerated away from the spacecraft…


MagnetoHydroDynamics (MHD) is the study of electrically conducting fluids in the presence of magnetic and electric fields. An MHD generator produces electric power directly from the kinetic and thermal energy in a plasma. The (Pulsing) Electrostatic Field Engine is a particular application of the MHD Generator.

Together the MHD Generator / (Pulsing) Electrostatic Field Engine will be described as the power plant and propulsion system for a spacecraft which will one day (soon) be developed by mankind for deep space, interstellar travel. The “total system” of the Generator and Engine combines, overlays,

and utilizes several “pulsing” magnetic and electrostatic fields:

1)-to produce a plasma from a fuel source stored in the spacecraft; using an MHD furnace; and to contain and handle the plasma through the Generator and Engine.

2)-to generate the electrical power used by the MHD furnace, the plasma production and handling system, and the “pulsing” wing.

3)-to develop propulsion by accelerating the plasma away from the spacecraft (utilizing Coulomb’s law) by means of the “pulsing”, or rapidly charging and discharging the “wing”.

4)-and finally to control the direction of flight by superimposing a magnetic field from the spacecraft, to control the direction in which the plasma is repelled away from the craft.

Generator & Engine

The plasma “fuel” is first generated in a furnace powered by the MHD generator itself (or by nuclear fusion or fission). Next, in a (optional mode) process to greatly increase the Generator/Engine efficiency, the “free” electrons are separated from the plasma by Electrostatic Field Condensers. The plasma then flows through the several “field coils” of the combined electric power/magnetic field generator (Generator). The properties of the plasma as a conducting fluid are used to generate the electric power (MHD Faraday Generator) for the spacecraft. The arrangement and geometry of the “field coils” or “plasma ducts” enables the spacecraft’s Generator to develop the necessary “coupled” magnetic fields for the MHD power generator as well as the “pulsing” magnetic control field for navigation.

After passing through the “field coils” of the Generator, the plasma then becomes the “propellant fuel” of the propulsion system. Although the spacecraft’s propulsion requirements (“wing” charge and rate of charge) will be proportional to the power output of the Generator, the plasma flowrate within the “field coils” will be separately variable (to a degree) from the plasma “propellant fuel” flowrate.

The Fuel

Any primary element can be used for the “fuel”. However, the best fuels are those elements which will ionize to the highest charge in the environment of the MHD furnace. After years of research, I came to the conclusion that Potassium (K) is the most suitable fuel to begin with. Common in nature, potassium is a relatively large atom, with a low melting point, a low atomic ionization energy, a high charge/mass ratio and should be easy to process for use in the furnace of the MHD generator.  Design and construction of the MHD furnace will be very important.  Initial prototypes should develop a temperature of ~10,000 degs F to make this technology suitable for spaceflight; and at this temp potassium should ionize to a charge of +4 to +6 (or higher) in the environment of the furnace.  Later models of the engine will operate at much higher temps and develop considerably more power.  This high charge/mass ratio of the Potassium fuel will be important to the efficiency of the Generator and the Engine.

[In some of the earliest experiments with the MHD generator at General Electric and Westinghouse, potassium was used as a “seed fuel” to increase the thermal conductivity, efficiency, and power output of these generators.]

It Runs on Lightning

Very simply, the propulsion system of the Electrostatic Field Engine is based upon the principle of Coulomb repulsion (like charges will produce a repelling force). Observations of these craft flying in our atmosphere have reported discharges of ‘lightning’ coming from the craft, indicating that electrons are being condensed from the plasma fuel. While not necessary to make this propulsion system work, this process greatly increases the efficiency of the engine and reduces the amount of fuel required. When operating in this ‘high-efficiency’ mode, the engine must have the capability to discharge the electrons condensed from the plasma during the process, else the wing will “stall”. The Engine’s operating mode when flying in the earth’s atmosphere will likely be different from the mode used when flying in the vacuum of outer space.

Considering a spacecraft flying in the atmosphere of the earth. With the wing at neutral charge, the “plasma” propellant is ejected immediately below the wing. Next, as the wing begins to build a positive charge it begins to repel and accelerate the plasma away from the spacecraft.


In less than two microseconds, the plasma has been accelerated to a velocity of 20% of the speed of light (c), and has moved to approximately 60 meters from the wing. The charge on the wing is then reversed. The negatively charging wing then allows the electrons condensed from the plasma to discharge back to the plasma cloud as a “lightning arc”.


The plasma has moved to approximately 100 meters from the wing when the electron discharge occurs. This sequence of events occurs in less than four microseconds and is repeated many times in each second. To vary the power level, the wing “pulsing rate” is adjusted between a minimum of approximately 20 cycles per second up to a maximum rate of several hundred (or greater) cycles per second.

Thus when flying in the atmosphere of the earth, the propulsion developed by the “positive wing charge” cycle must be “tuned” to maximize the power developed for propulsion but “dampened” to still leave the plasma cloud relatively close to the wing.

The “Pulsing” Wing in Outer Space

When flying in outer space, the positively charging wing may be used to accelerate the plasma to develop the maximum possible work per pulse, accomplished by maintaining the wing charge over a longer period of time. Under these conditions, the wing will be capable of accelerating the plasma to a velocity of approximately 50% to 60% of the speed of light, c. The discharge of electrons will then be handled in a different manner, based upon the desired engine efficiency.

The “pulsing wing” develops a tremendous amount of power for propulsion and it will be a challenge for mankind to harness this energy into a constructable, workable system. There will also be a practical upper limit upon the propulsive power, which can be produced with this technology. This limit will depend upon how quickly can one develop a charge over a large plate or wing. The amount of the charge, which can be developed, is of secondary importance. I would estimate the “upper limit” of this technology to be on the order of 10^18 watts…… (that’s 10E18watts!)

light bulb = 100 watts

1 Horsepower = 745 watts

Avg. Nuclear Power Plant = 1.5 x 10E9 watts

Combined world power ~ 20 x 10E12 watts (20 terawatts)

Electrostatic Field Engine = 10E12 to 10E18 watts (1 to 1,000,000 terawatts)

Our Sun = approximately 10E27 watts

The Generator

The geometry of the Generator of this spacecraft includes the plasma ducts or “channels” to be routed around the perimeter of the inner pod of the spacecraft. These ducts will be dual-wall or dual container construction. The inner section would include the “continuous electrodes” of the MHD generator. The outer sections of the plasma duct would contain “segmented” Electrostatic Field sections. These sections would be used to precisely control the flow of the plasma within the ducts of the Generator. The field strength of each segment would be increased in sequence similar to a “traveling pulse” of positive charge moving along the duct’s axial dimension. The plasma would flow through the ducts in discrete “pulses”, held by coulomb repulsion between these travelling pulses of positive charge.


The plasma ducts would be also be “coupled” and controlled in pairs to allow for the important economy of the induced magnetic field created by the flowing conductor in one duct providing the Lorentz force necessary for the MHD power generator in the “coupled” duct.

Control of the Engine

The control of the Electrostatic Field Engine represents the single largest challenge….

The ‘plasma fuel’ has been processed in a very high temperature furnace by “stripping away” the electrons from each atom. This electromagnetic force is approximately 1/100 as strong as the “strong nuclear force” energy that is used in the nuclear power industry. While nuclear fission produces heat for the Carnot cycle thermodynamic process in the typical power plant process, the electromagnetic (EM) force is an “inverse square law” force, which also acts at a distance above the nuclear level, and can produce electricity directly from the flow of plasma through an MHD generator. Thus, the plasma manufactured in the furnace is “hot” both in the sense of high temperature and in the sense of being available as a potential “high energy” source, concentrated for use in our macroscopic environment.

A point: Energy is measured in a *frame of reference*. “Temperature” is a measure of the “quality” of heat energy. In the MHD furnace, this high temperature quality allows us to unlock a “new” reference frame. In this new reference frame we can access and utilize directly in our macroscopic environment…… the electromagnetic forces within matter. (All done in an instant of time, much faster than a “twinkling of an eye”)

A second point……. The Electrostatic Field Engine is truly a “Relativistic Engine”. A second in time is a “long time” for the dynamics of this Engine. Consider the motion of a charged particle moving in an Electrostatic Field.

In addition to the “repulsion force” from Coulomb’s Law: F= qE =qQ/r^2……

When the charged particle begins to move in the Electrostatic Field an additional force, the “motional magnetic force”, is contributed to the total force on the charge. This additional force is also a vector quantity. F = (q/c)V x B…….Where c is the speed of light, V is the velocity of the charged particle, and B is the magnetic field induced by the moving charge, defined by this equation. The total of the two forces is called as the “Lorentz Force”.

The general direction of the plasma motion is away from the “wing” in a perpendicular direction. By the vector cross-product, “right-hand rule”, the magnetic field induced by the plasma motion is in a clockwise direction, viewed from above. The direction of the “motional force” on the moving plasma, also by the “right hand rule”, is in a direction perpendicular to the plasma motion and to the “motional magnetic field” to the center of the helix – which the plasma particle begins to describe as it moves away from the wing. This helical motion of the charged particle makes spaceflight possible….

Now consider the characteristics of the additional magnetic field created by the plasma moving through the “field coils”, or “plasma ducts” of the Generator. The plasma moving also in a clockwise direction through the Generator “coils”, will create an additional magnetic field with a direction “down” through the center and “up” around the outside of the “plasma coils” of the Generator. Reversing the direction of the plasma flow through these “coils” will reverse the direction of this magnetic control field.

Close to the “wing”, the direction of the velocity of the plasma motion away from the wing will be the same or 180 degrees opposite to the direction of the Generator’s magnetic control field. The “vector cross product” will be essentially zero and there will be no control of the plasma motion. However, as the plasma moves farther away from the “wing”, the direction of the field lines of the Generator’s magnetic control field will become either toward the center of the helix of plasma motion or directly away from it, depending on the direction of the plasma flow within the “coils” of the Generator. The Generator’s control force, the “vector cross product” of the velocity away from the “wing” with this magnetic control field, will be tangential to the helical portion of the plasma motion. This force will be either in the direction of helical motion or directly opposite to this motion. Thus, our control of the direction of motion of the wing may be realized……

Consider now the flow of plasma within the Generator’s plasma “ducts” and with all the plasma “pulses” moving at a uniform velocity. Suppose we should wish to move the spacecraft in a particular direction, X1. Our strategy to accomplish this is to cause the plasma being repelled away from and below the wing to move in the opposite direction relative to the spacecraft, X2.


We accomplish this by temporarily reversing the plasma flow within the “duct” at the X2 location. As each plasma “pulse” flowing in the “duct” reaches the X2 location, its flow direction is temporarily reversed and then returned to the uniform flow direction. All in an instant of time. This additional “pulsing” in the direction of plasma flow causes a “pulsing” reversing of the magnetic control field in the X2 location. The plasma “propellant” below the wing moving into this X2 region will be caught in this “pulsing” control field.

As the Generator’s magnetic control field is “pulsed” in location X2, the direction of the “tangential force” created by the field will begin alternating. The plasma “propellant” moving into the X2 location will become caught in this “pulsing” control field and will begin to “zig-zag” away from the “wing” as its helical motion begins to alternate. This will cause the wing to move in the opposite, X1 direction…….

I have presented herein my very rudimentary concept of the (Pulsing) Electrostatic Field Engine. I would hope that the information I have offered here can give some direction to research in MHD and lead to the answers we will need to make this Engine a reality.

Your humble servant,

Captain Stan


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