Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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static ionized air balloon

The ions repel each other
  [vote for,

causing lower density at same pressure, and thus buoyancy.
pashute, Dec 04 2012

Ionic Gas Balloon Ionic_20Gas_20Balloon
like this? Looks like you were the last one there pashute. [bungston, Dec 05 2012]


       I like it. [+] to you.   

       Added benefit: rise and descend by changing charge.   

       Might want to use 2 insulating membranes separated by a few inches of very dry air to increase insulation.
Kansan101, Dec 04 2012

       [+] for originality... so let's see some math.
FlyingToaster, Dec 04 2012

       not to be flown in stormy weather.
pashute, Dec 04 2012

       This is certainly likely to give the balloon an inflated shape. I'm not so sure about it giving the balloon bouyancy, however.
Vernon, Dec 04 2012

       A balloon with a low modulus of elasticity would be more sensitive to charge changes, at cost of increased size. A Van der Graaff generator is a must.
piluso, Dec 04 2012

       It seems to me, after subconsciously chewing on it, that if the balloon was sealed before various atoms were ionized, then, AND IF the ions could actually be contained by the balloon skin(doubtful!), it would logically follow that the specified electrostatic repulsion would give the balloon the inflated shape, and as a result the air inside the sealed balloon would be occupying greater volume than before the electrostatic inflation happened.   

       And so the average density of the air inside the balloon would go down, and the balloon might indeed experience lift. However, it really does depend on keeping the ions contained inside the balloon skin, and ions are well known to behave differently than normal neutral atoms/molecules.   

       There is also the fact that, to make ions, you have to separate electric charges and keep them separated, when they naturally seek to get back together. Expelling the stripped-off electric charges from the vicinity of the balloon won't really be effective, because they'll be attracted back to the balloon. You will have to seal them away somewhere far from the balloon (like the Moon, maybe), if you want to keep the whole floating balloon from heading directly toward the storage site! :)
Vernon, Dec 05 2012

       Hang on. If the balloon fabric is conductive (say, metallized mylar), suppose you apply a huge positive voltage to it. This should result in a cloud of positive ions inside the balloon, repelling both eachother and the balloon walls; they should leak out even less quickly than regular gas.   

       The problem, shirley, is that you have to apply the voltage *relative to* something. The solution would therefore be to have a *pair* of such balloons, with the generator slung on a wire between them, pulling charge from one balloon to the other.   

       OK, so then the problem will be keeping these two oppositely-charged balloons apart.   

       I also suspect that the voltages needed would be astrophenormous.   

       But I still love the idea.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 05 2012

       [MaxwellBuchanan] It shouldn't be hard to keep the balloons separated. Rather than having a pair of balloons, have the main balloon above and a second charge storage device as part of the basket. The boyancy is pulling the balloon up and the weight of the caro is pulling the basket down, keeping them apart. The electrostatic attraction decreases with the square of the distance, so depending on the charge required, the distance between basket and balloon would need to be increased. It should probably be arranged so that only a small portion of the weight is supported electrostatically with most supported by fairly standard ropes.   

       Alternately, this could be arranged as two balloons stacked one above the other. The lower balloon would support half the weight of the basket, and the upper balloon would support the other half. The distance between the ballons would need to be larger than the distance between the basket and balloon in the first configuration because there is only half the force keeping them apart. I suspect this could be a largish distance, making the overall contraption hard to handle in a wind sheer situation.   

       When connecting the two, don't use a conductive wire. As you stated, the voltage will be astrophenormous, and the farther apart the charges are kept, the higher the voltage is. What you want is for the belt of the van-de-graff generator to extend from the balloon to the basket (or second balloon). You don't use a van-de-graff generator to charge the balloon. The balloon _is_ the van-de-graff generator. While constructing this, you may accidently set a new record for the world's largest air-insulated van-de-graff generator.
scad mientist, Dec 05 2012


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