Professor Marco Belan from the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology (DAER) of Politecnico di Milano coordinates the European project IPROP – “Ionic PROPulsion in Atmoshpere” ↗ funded by the European Innovation Council (EIC).

IPROP received a rating of excellence from the second EIC Pathfinder Open call, reserved for innovative ideas that can pave the way for new technologies. This very selective call awards just over 50 projects per year across Europe.

The consortium, led by Politecnico di Milano, includes Università di BolognaKarlsruher Institut fuer TechnologieTechnische Universitaet DresdenVon Karman Institute for Fluid DynamicsInstitut Superieur de l’Aeronautique et de l’EspaceCentre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the Aeronord company.

The PoliMi team includes at present Filippo Maggi ↗Carlo Riboldi ↗Stefano Cacciola ↗Raffaello Terenzi ↗Stefano Trovato ↗Davide Usuelli ↗Domenico Montenero and Marco Belan ↗ from DAER; Paolo BarbanteLorenzo Valdettaro and Carlo de Falco of the Department of Mathematics (DMAT).

The project intends to explore the possibilities of developing ion propulsion in the atmosphere, taking it beyond the current pioneering phase, with the aim of understanding whether it can become a widely used technology in the future. The program will engage the project partners in a vast phase of fundamental research, extending from the theory of ionization phenomena to the geometries of the electrodes, and then in the integration of innovative thrusters on flying prototypes. The demonstrator chosen for the project will be an ion-propelled airship model, intended as a first step for larger-scale and high-altitude applications, where great expectations are concentrated for the possible uses of this technology in the stratosphere, with long operating times without maintenance and very low environmental impact.